Laboratory Leaders in a Post-Pandemic World
Welcoming new pathologists and laboratory professionals at a tumultuous time in healthcare
E. Blair Holladay | | Opinion
Right around now, the future clinicians of the US are starting their medical residencies. Typically, it’s a time filled with both excitement and anxiety – the start of an intense, all-consuming period in their lives. But now, in a year that has been rocked by a pandemic and upended by major social and economic issues, we can easily say that 2020 will be a unique experience for medical residents.
And maybe that’s not a bad thing.
As leaders in healthcare – and as the cornerstone of patient testing – pathologists and laboratory professionals undoubtedly have the expertise to know that there will most likely be a second wave of the virus, that it will affect more people, and that many countries are still at risk. But we don’t have a crystal ball. There is a lot we don’t know about how the SARS-CoV-2 crisis will play out. We can’t predict when – or how – this pandemic will end. Nor can we say exactly the future will hold after it ends, so we will continue to adapt and to learn from research and discovery.
The ability to pivot and adapt practice patterns as needed will be one of the first skills pathology residents and medical laboratory scientists learn as they enter the field – and it is a skill that will serve them throughout their careers. Normally, it is learned over time, but the past six months have shown us that time is not always available.
The post-COVID-19 world is going to look vastly different than it did before and its challenges are unprecedented. But one of the greatest things about every new wave of scientists that enters pathology and laboratory medicine is the fresh perspective they bring to the field. No matter what kind of world we live in, leaders are always needed – and leadership is not an easy role to assume. For some, it comes naturally; others must work toward it one step at a time. Leadership requires flexibility, constant diligence, and the ability to evolve based on what’s happening in the moment, as well as what may come in the short and long term. With the launch of the ASCP Town Hall events, we’ve seen current and future leaders in action, joining us as expert panelists to discuss the latest research and share their experiences around COVID-19. Without their knowledge, we wouldn’t be as well-positioned as we are within healthcare, and we wouldn’t be driving progress toward better patient care.
These experts – along with new pathologists and medical laboratory scientists – will be informing the next phase of COVID-19 diagnoses. Although it’s not ideal to enter a new career in the middle of this kind of worldwide upheaval, now is the perfect time for the new perspectives these individuals will bring. This is an opportunity to learn, grow, and innovate – not only for themselves, but for the profession overall.