By - July 05, 2023
Two extraordinary individuals who are making an impact on public health and patient advocacy will headline the ASCP 2023 Annual Meeting next fall in Long Beach, CA. Hollywood icon and cancer patient advocate Rob Lowe will be the keynote speaker on the opening day of the Annual Meeting, Oct. 18. The following day, the scientific keynote speaker will be Kizzmekia S. Corbett, PhD, scientific lead of the Vaccine Research Center Coronavirus Team at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
For decades, Mr. Lowe has leveraged his platform to stand up to cancer. A passionate advocate for resiliency in the face of adversity, The New York Times best-selling author delivers an inspirational message about the fight against cancer from a deeply personal perspective. When he lost three loved ones to cancer—his mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother—and his father survived non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the award-winning actor knew that he had to get involved and take a stand against cancer, becoming the first spokesman for breast cancer.
A devoted advocate, Mr. Lowe has talked with groups of all kinds about his experiences with the disease, his victories from the work he has been involved with in the fight against cancer, and the importance of continued work by everyone to support breast cancer survivors. His work is a reminder that patient care and advocacy are central to all that pathologists and medical laboratory professionals do.
Meanwhile, the impact that Dr. Corbett and her colleagues have made on the development of a coronavirus vaccine has made an impact around the world. She and her team were central to the development of the Moderna mRNA vaccine and the Eli Lilly therapeutic monoclonal antibody, both of which were first in the world to enter clinical trials. As a result, her work has had a substantial impact on ending the worst respiratory disease pandemic in more than 100 years. Dr. Corbett is an assistant professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in Boston, MA. Her work now extends beyond the development of the COVID-19 vaccines to the outlook of this pandemic and future viral pandemics.
These two inspirational leaders will kick off the ASCP 2023 Annual Meeting, providing you with the vital knowledge you need to stay at the forefront of your profession. From cutting-edge techniques and emerging trends to best practices, ASCP 2023 will help you build the skills and expertise you need to make an immediate impact in your lab.
Highlights of this year’s meeting will include a dedicated track for laboratory professionals, developed by laboratory professionals. Begun several years ago, this everpopular track includes a laboratory professional session in each time slot during the Annual Meeting. Renowned laboratory professional leaders will present all of the sessions, which are focused on the following four areas: Chemistry, Hematology/Coagulation, Blood Banking/ Transfusion Medicine, and Microbiology. Additionally, a number of pathology tracks have been developed, making it easier for pathologists for focus in on their area of practice. New tracks include Surgical Pathology, Hematopathology, Clinical Pathology, and Cytopathology.
There will be two new workshops offered for laboratory professionals and pathologists the day before the start of the Annual Meeting. There will be two concurrent, four-hour sessions, one focusing on GI pathology and the other focusing on technology trends in the laboratory.
The “Birds of a Feather” roundtables were a big hit at last year’s Annual Meeting and will return this year. Attendees do not need to register for these; they can just show up and engage with their peers who are in similar fields, to talk about top-of-mind topics in a lively and informal setting.
This year’s education program is being developed with your input. When ASCP sent out a call for topic proposals earlier this year, nearly 300 responses were received, with many suggestions being integrated into the meeting.
Over the past few years, the topic of wellness has become a concern of all healthcare providers, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when hospital staff worked around the clock to care for patients. That concern continues, especially as many have retired or left the profession because of burn out. In addition to sessions that focus on wellness, there will be several interactive activities built into this year’s meeting to help attendees de-stress, recharge, and have fun! And the ultimate in wellness activities— you’ll have Long Beach by the ocean so close by! So, bring the family and make ASCP 2023 a destination trip you’ll never forget!
Learn more and register at ascp.org/2023.
When diagnosing and treating a patient with breast cancer, the relationship between the surgical oncologist, the breast oncologist, and the pathologist is essential. Therefore, the pathologist must be current on new guidelines and therapies that can help patients with HER2-low breast cancer.
“As surgical oncologists and breast oncologists, we make a lot of our treatment decisions based on the pathology report,” says Barbara Craft, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, and director of the Breast Cancer Treatment and Prevention Program. “It is important to have a pathologist who is well trained and specializes in breast for most of their practice or had that for their fellowship. They need to be up to date on the new guidelines and they need to be accessible.”
This collaborative relationship is underscored in ASCP’s award-winning portfolio of education, which is designed to ensure pathologists and laboratory professionals are current in the latest clinical practice recommendations and best practices to ensure optimal diagnosis, testing, and treatment for patients with breast cancer. This education portfolio considers recent advances in research that are leading to new approaches for the diagnosis and clinical management of patients with breast cancer. It incorporates a variety of innovative learning approaches, including microlearning, Twitter-based education, peer-to-peer learning collaboratives, downloadable resources, and podcasts, as well as traditional online modules and recordings.
A critical component of the curriculum is the emphasis on the multidisciplinary team. The discussions among the medical oncologist, surgical oncologist, radiologist, breast radiologist, clinical trials coordinator, and plastic surgeon are beneficial because “we are all sitting in the room talking about the patient, looking at their mammogram or breast MRI,” Dr. Craft says.
Dr. Craft chairs a breast conference each week as part of the University Cancer Care Team, where physicians gather to discuss current patient issues, work with clinical trials, and participate in research on drugs that treat breast cancer. The weekly meetings also help the participants appreciate their colleagues’ areas of expertise and serve as a reminder to all that each specimen they review represents an actual patient. “I am not a pathologist or a surgeon, so I need their input,” she emphasizes.
For more information on HER2-low education and resources, visit bit.ly/her2low.
The ASCP Great Plains Chapter, based in Nebraska, recently concluded a successful spring meeting.
“Everyone had a great deal of energy and enthusiasm. We appreciated working with ASCP staff on marketing the meeting and with providing credits,” says Karen J. Hastings, MLS(ASCP)CM, a board member of the ASCP Great Plains Chapter who is a clinical laboratory manager at Pathology Services, P.C., North Platte, Nebraska.
Speakers for the two-day event included a CLIA inspector, a physician from Mayo Clinic via Zoom, a representative from Audit Microcontrols, Inc., who talked about calibration verification and guidelines, regulations, and troubleshooting, as well as local laboratory professionals and healthcare providers.
Virtually everyone on the Great Plains Chapter’s 10-member board pitched in to organize the event, secure speakers, and handle registration and education credits.
“The board makes sure that the meeting covers all of the main topics necessary for the ASCP Board of Certification, and it also incorporates sessions on laboratory leadership, since many of its members are laboratory leaders,” Ms. Hastings says.
Future meeting topics are based on feedback via surveys distributed at the end of each meeting. The CLIA inspector session was so popular at the chapter’s fall meeting that it was held again for the recent spring session.
With the meeting held in Omaha, in the eastern part of the state, it can be a challenge to draw attendees who work at rural hospitals that don’t have deep resources to send employees to meetings or who work in the western part of the state. The chapter board is considering holding future meetings in a central location and adding a virtual component as it did during the COVID-19 pandemic so that those who work farther away can participate.
Meanwhile, the chapter has developed an innovative way to engage younger professionals. It hosts an annual Emerging Leaders Award and provides a free, one-year membership to a talented young professional who has been recommended by a chapter member.
The Great Plains Chapter also hosts a fall educational meeting, a summer social event for all members, and a town hall meeting to present the board’s long-range, strategic plans. In addition to meetings, participating in regional chapters is a great way for ASCP members to connect with other laboratory professionals in their area. Learn more about, and join, the Great Plains Chapter or any of the 19 other ASCP Chapters by visiting ascp.org/localchapters
ASCP is urging Congress to include the laboratory workforce in any legislation it passes to address healthcare workforce shortages. ASCP’s comments were outlined in a March 20 letter submitted to Congress in anticipation of legislation the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions is considering tackling regarding the historic challenges affecting the nation’s healthcare workforce.
In its letter, ASCP addressed the causes of, and possible policy solutions for, laboratory personnel shortages. Among the causes cited by ASCP were educational costs, salary, workload, stress, and burnout. ASCP argued that high student debt load is one of the reasons why providing loan repayment options for laboratory personnel could help address workforce issues. In addition, ASCP urged Congress to provide laboratory professionals with access to the same federal workforce development programs— like scholarships, fellowships, and financial support for healthcare training programs—currently made available for other healthcare professions.
ASCP and 23 other major national laboratory, pathology, and healthcare organizations have joined forces to urge Congress to tackle the critical personnel shortages affecting the pathology and laboratory workforce. The new Medical and Public Health Laboratory Workforce Coalition wrote an April 25 letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee leaders asking Congress to ramp up efforts to address laboratory personnel shortages.
The coalition’s letter was submitted following a recent Senate HELP Committee’s hearing on healthcare workforce shortages. “Currently, most medical and public health laboratories suffer from significant personnel shortages, and many are operating at or near crisismode,” the coalition noted. The letter also addressed the importance of laboratory professionals to the upcoming reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, which is a key piece of the nation’s pandemic preparedness infrastructure. Much of the data on which pandemic response is based comes from work performed by laboratory professionals.
The coalition noted the federal Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA), which runs most of the federal government’s healthcare workforce development program, administers a number of programs designed to support the healthcare workforce. However, few of these programs—including grants for training programs, scholarship/fellowship programs, and loan repayment programs—are available to laboratory professionals. Providing laboratory professionals and laboratory training programs with access to these programs as well as improving visa and immigration options for laboratory professionals is essential to responding to laboratory workforce shortages.
ASCP communications writer