Laboratory excellence requires investing in our people
Pathologists and laboratory scientists are obsessed with quality – and rightly so. Accurate results, data registries such as ASCP’s National Pathology Quality Registry, quality assurance reports, and quality control measures… it’s safe to say that we all eat, sleep, and breathe quality. All of these elements require the right people to operate and manage them – which means that, if we invest in those people, we invest in quality. How does that concept apply to pathology?
It means investing in cutting-edge technology. We can digitize pathology services, implement telepathology systems to better serve rural and international areas, or expand molecular analytical departments so we are one step closer to providing truly personalized laboratory diagnostics. Investing in technology also means we invest in our communities.
It means supporting continuing education efforts. That education can come in a variety of forms, such as teaching courses at a university, accepting residents into our workplace, attending professional society meetings, and engaging in leadership training. Investing your time back into the community enriches us all. By teaching new residents, networking with new colleagues through social media, and providing in-service education to laboratory staff, we improve morale and strengthen relationships. When we support pathologists’ lifelong learning, we support quality patient care.
It means being appropriately remunerated. Whether working within merit-based incentive systems, securing fair payment practices from insurance companies, or ensuring competitive pay scales, we need to make it clear that our contributions have monetary value.
It means work-life balance. Burnout in the medical community is an ongoing concern, so it’s important to remember that we have a life outside our practice. Taking time away from the microscope or clinical care team meetings allows us to stay emotionally balanced. Time off can often act as a reset button and allow us to remember what brought us to the profession in the first place – helping others through scientific advancement.
It also means advocating for those working in other roles. Our laboratory professional colleagues – from phlebotomists to pathologists – deserve the best we can provide. Upgrades to equipment, regular continuing education, and competitive pay practices are important for every rung of the career ladder. A rising tide lifts all yachts, so it’s imperative that we invest the necessary resources into the entire laboratory ecosystem. Laboratory practices that invest in people invest in quality and allow quality to flourish.
CEO of the American Society for Clinical Pathology