By - November 16, 2022
As scientists, when we made the decision to pursue the field of pathology and laboratory medicine, we committed ourselves to lifelong learning. As laboratory scientists, we are only as good as the knowledge we’ve studied and gained most recently, and in order to provide the high-quality care our patients need and deserve, we must be vigilant in our search for knowledge.
Education over your professional lifetime can take many forms. No matter the stage of your career, you can always gain more knowledge or learn new skills. The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) fosters continuing education in many forms, and we members have shared our expertise across the globe. In doing so, we not only teach others, but teach ourselves, listening and learning what it means to be a laboratory scientist in our own labs, and in those in environments that are sometimes vastly different from what we’re familiar with.
Educating ourselves and others happens both in and out of the laboratory. We attend conferences and lectures to enhance our knowledge. We read original research articles or write them ourselves to explore new thoughts and advances in technology and medicine. Wherever we are, there is an opportunity for learning.
In this issue of Critical Values, we shed light on myriad topics that laboratory scientists should consider learning about. In their article, “Dealing with Unsavory Workplace Personalities: An Action Plan,” Drs. Prayson and Rowe look at how to handle different—and sometimes contentious—personalities to create a harmonious laboratory work environment.
Christina Bazanele-Sabatka and Erika Montoya share knowledge about being educated on the importance of quality in the article “Conquer Your QC Fears: Quality Control in the Modern Lab.” Taken in part from their presentation at the 2017 ASCP Annual Meeting in Chicago, the authors note that while the typical amount of education on tracking, monitoring, and regulating quality control measures is limited, providing laboratory professionals with this information is imperative and must be increased. “When a laboratory can assure a clinician that it is properly monitoring the performance of its instrumentation for errors and quality, this fosters confidence throughout the hospital that the laboratory is releasing high-quality results,” the authors write.
While so much of our learning stems from our training to be laboratory scientists, some of us are called to return to the classroom and share our knowledge of the lab with a new generation. While work in the laboratory and work in the classroom may seem to be on opposite sides of the learning spectrum, they have much more in common than one might think. Author Diane Valentin shares her experience of heading back to the classroom in her article, “Transitioning from the Lab to Academia: One MLS’s Perspective.” She writes, “As I’ve moved through time and the new field of teaching, I have realized that I can transfer many skills from my work in the lab to my work in academia.”
Just as important as educating ourselves is educating those outside of the profession on our skills, our services, and the integral part we play in patients’ lives. Aaron Odegard, president of the Jacksonville Area Microbiology Society in Jacksonville, Florida, shares his experience in promoting MLT/MLS programs. Mr. Odegard provides examples of activities that have helped their group increase awareness of the profession and encourages others to participate in activities in their own areas. As he says, making the difference in the future of our profession starts with us.
When it comes to educating ourselves and others in the workforce, the important thing is that we never stop. Never stop learning. Never stop seeking out new knowledge. Never stop digging for deeper truths and discoveries. Never stop sharing our knowledge, because when we share and collaborate on what we know and understand, and work together to discover what we don’t, we further ourselves and our profession. And that makes us StrongerTogether.
Thank you for your continued support of ASCP. Please send me your comments and suggestions at Blair.Holladay@ascp.org. My very best to each of you.