Empowerment Through Education

As I have just finished a phenomenal week at this years #ASCLS2018 national meeting, I am reminded of the intense and critical need to educate others. I was humbled and honored to have the many accolades given to me this week, including the Board of Directors Award, and to have so many individuals, both seasoned laboratory scientists and new professionals, ask me about the DCLS. While much of my week was spent in various meetings with either vendors or in ASCLS leadership capacities, one fundamental purpose of these meetings is education. To share our own knowledge and experiences with others and to learn for another’s expertise.

As I began to over-analyze my experiences this week, as I am prone to do, they mirrored experiences I have on nearly a daily basis since becoming as practicing DCLS professional. Only these have been experiences in sharing my knowledge and expertise in laboratory science with physicians.

I have providee 15 minute to 2 hour teaching discussions on a variety of laboratory science topics to physicians. Some are for CME credits, others are purely to improve professional practice, patient safety, and the quality of healthcare delivery. Some may think that this education is not needed, however, the response I have had from the physicians I work with tells a different story. They ask to record these sessions for others in the specialty groups who, because of patient workload, were unable to attend the teaching session. A session that I had given to Family Medicine on one day I was then asked to present to a Critical Care group two days later. Word travels and word travels fast. They want assistance, and we should be able to provide it to them.

So what topics could physicians possibly be that eager to learn about that they are requesting these teaching sessions and discussions?

  • Hemoglobin A1c and hemoglobinapathies
  • PSA: what it means and what it doesn’t
  • Which Vitamin D is appropriate in which patient?
  • Urine Drug Screens
  • Autoimmune testing and appropriate utilization
  • Difference between Emergency Release & MTP, and when are they appropriate
  • Sepsis markers, appropriate utilization and interpretation issues
  • Reference ranges, limits of detection, and limits of quantification
  • Medication interference in laboratory testing
  • and more …

The list of topics is generated from issues identified within the laboratory in test utilization, but also from requests for specific topics from the physicians and my own observations while an active member of patient care rounding teams. What could I possibly have observed? Repeated cases of residents thinking that a serum creatinine going from 1.09 mg/dL to 1.10 mg/dL is an upwards trend and indicative that the patient is developing an acute kidney injury (no, no they are not).

So why is this not being done during patient rounds? Simply because we often do not have time for adequate in-depth teaching and discussion on these issues. I had one discussion with a team on urine drug screens that lasted 3 hours. Thankfully the patient load was light that day and I was able to stay to ensure that all their questions were answered.

So, in conclusion for today, I urge each of you to become educators. I don’t mean that you need to become professors (although if that is your passion – there is a shortage of those in the laboratory science community as well). Instead I mean for you to share your expertise and passion with others. This may be simply writing an article and submit it to your state society newsletter or write up a case and submit it to the national newsletter or journal. You can make a presentation for either your institution, local high/middle/elementary school, or state/national meeting. You could educate nurses on pre-analytical errors in laboratory testing. You have expertise … you should be sharing it!

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