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Outside the Lab Profession, Training and education

The Learning Never Stops

A century ago, patients were often treated in their homes and much of the practice of medicine went unregulated. Today, cutting-edge research and technology have helped establish guidelines and benchmarks that ensure patient safety across healthcare organizations, hospitals, and clinics.

A century ago, blood banks didn’t exist, the discovery of widely used antibiotics was still years away, and the common Pap smear that changed how we test for cervical cancer had yet to be discovered.

A century ago, pathology wasn’t recognized as a medical specialty. It wasn’t until a group of physicians made it so at the 1922 American Medical Association meeting in St. Louis that our discipline became recognized. One hundred years later, as we gather this September in Chicago at ASCP 2022, we celebrate a century of progress and continued advancement in pathology and laboratory medicine. Innumerable technologies and practices that exist today were unheard of mere decades ago – and, as leaders in healthcare, we share our excitement over what we have accomplished in the past 100 years and acknowledge the deep pride that comes from knowing that we have changed the face of medicine for the better. We know that our contributions to medicine stem from our refusal to simply coast on what is expected from the laboratory. Rather, we push ourselves to continually improve our skills and increase our knowledge. We know that educating ourselves, our colleagues, and our patients is critical to the success of the laboratory and providing extraordinary patient care.

It is part of the American Society for Clinical Pathology’s mission to provide pathologists and medical laboratory scientists – both in training and in the field – with relevant, up-to-date education that will help them at the beginning, middle, and conclusion of their careers. Our education doesn’t end when we leave our academic institutions, diplomas and credentials in hand. Instead, if we are to ensure that the patient is at the center of our practice, education must be a lifelong endeavor. If we are not continually gathering knowledge and educating ourselves on the latest technologies, treatments, procedures, information, and skills, then we are doing our patients a disservice. Our commitment to pathology and medical laboratory science moves in tandem with our dedication to educating ourselves and others.

The way we learn has also changed drastically over the past century, particularly in the last two years. Classroom learning has evolved to a hybrid model and online platforms such as YouTube can help students and professionals alike hone their skills. This increase in online education has enabled pathology and laboratory medicine to reach people around the world who would never otherwise have access to the field. As such, it broadens our practice and emphasizes the importance of the laboratory in patient care.

As we move into the next 100 years, we are excited to see how the profession – and our understanding of new skills, techniques, and technologies – unfolds. We can only build on the century of progress we’ve already established – and the next century is already proving to be an exciting time for pathologists, medical laboratory scientists, and patients everywhere.

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About the Author
E. Blair Holladay

CEO of the American Society for Clinical Pathology

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