Opportunity in Education
How virtual learning benefits pathology and laboratory medicine
E. Blair Holladay | | Opinion
The challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic have not left any area of our lives, personal or professional, untouched. In pathology and laboratory medicine, we’ve seen an evolution of testing and research. Advocacy efforts have grown as we’ve amplified the voices of medical laboratory scientists, making ourselves heard and stepping into the spotlight to show patients and healthcare colleagues the critical work we do every day. Where we were a year ago is barely recognizable compared with where we are – and what we know – now.
As the landscape of the laboratory continues to evolve, we are seeing significant progression in the way we educate and train our current and future workforce. Traditional in-person learning is not always possible in today’s pandemic environment. Over the past year, there has been a significant pivot to online education to maintain the standards and knowledge pathologists and medical laboratory scientists need to provide high-quality care.
At the beginning of the pandemic, establishing a footprint in virtual education was not without pitfalls. But, as we developed a sense of normalcy around living our lives online when we couldn’t be together in person, educating and learning in a virtual environment got easier, more expansive, more creative, and more targeted toward meeting the needs of the community. From the start, ASCP committed to bringing virtual education to the pathology and medical laboratory community in multiple formats. We launched a series of Town Hall events as a resource for the most up-to-date information on advocacy efforts, laboratory test developments, and health disparities affected by COVID-19. Knowing that pathology and medical laboratory professionals are working tirelessly under the weight of the pandemic, we offer a free course on burnout prevention. And, starting this March, we are launching our newest educational experience to date, Virtual Pathology Grand Rounds, which brings academic Grand Rounds directly to the learner.
As virtual education grows, it benefits the pathology and laboratory community not only in the US, but around the world. Virtual educational events allow people to join in who would not otherwise have been able to attend. Expanding our educational opportunities to include virtual learning gives the information we share a broader reach and improves patient care globally.
COVID-19 has pushed us all to innovate in ways we never thought possible – and access to education is one of the benefits. Whether online or in person, educating the future of our workforce – as well as continuing our own education throughout our careers – is essential. Education lets us provide the critical knowledge our patients rely on and establishes our seat at the table of effecting change in healthcare. At this time of unparalleled challenges, continuing to expand virtual education opportunities is essential to not just our patients, but healthcare as a whole.