While the 68th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo will be jam-packed with groundbreaking research and educational opportunities, there are also numerous hidden gems designed to enhance your own career trajectory. CLN Stat talked to presenters at three such programs.

Trends in Allied Health Education: How Will We Educate the Laboratory Workforce of the Future? (34201)

The American Society for Clinical Pathology released a task force report in 2013 that documented the barriers to meeting laboratory workforce demands in the future. One option to overcome those barriers is online/distance and blended learning, which is already transforming allied health education.

The Mayo Clinic’s School of Health Sciences is investing extensively in these models, said Brad S. Karon, MD, PhD, who chairs this session. The goal is to increase access to programs across time and geography, enable sharing of resources between educational sites, and better prepare students for clinical rotations. Another goal is to ease the burden on clinical preceptors and laboratories that provide clinical training.  

“Having the didactic portion of programs in a blended (online) format also minimizes re-work necessary when faculty leave the program, and ensures that the knowledge received is standardized between classes and over time,” Karon explained.

Karon will be sharing the podium with his colleague, Sue Lehman, who will discuss specific strategies for educating medical laboratory scientists.

Meet The Experts: Clinical Chemistry’s Inspiring Minds… Live! (62203)

Attend this session and a behind-the-scenes look at how three prominent individuals in our field, Steven Soldin, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health, Fred Apple, PhD, of Hennepin County Medical Center, and Carl Wittwer, MD, PhD, of the University of Utah, got to where they are today.

CLN Stat talked to Wittwer about his own experience, asking what he believes have been the keys to his success. “Find a place to work where your creative input is valued,” he said. “I have had great academic chairmen over the years.” Attracting the right kind of co-workers is also key. “In my case, I had very bright and challenging compatriots both in academics and private industry.”

Which brings up another point: “Don't be afraid of the ‘dark side’ (companies, patents, entrepreneurialism),” Wittwer advised. “If you find yourself lucky enough to be courted by business, give more than you receive; it will pay off in the long run.”

His advice for others? “Take advantage of opportunities when they arise, even if they are disjointed from your long-term plans. Be nice to people and treat those less fortunate than you as equals.” And, finally, “Don’t worry about being scooped. Only publish data that you believe in and feel good about.” Wittwer also recommended:

“Focus on being a competent, superior scientist—not on acquiring titles with power over others.”

Laboratory Management Essentials (73121)

Whether you are a board-certified clinical chemist acting as CLIA laboratory director, a scientist developing the latest technology, or a laboratory manager, your ability to influence a high-functioning team is essential to the success of your endeavors. Rodney W. Forsman, assistant professor emeritus of laboratory medicine and pathology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine takes center stage in this session to share the key attributes of good leaders. CLN Stat asked him for a preview.

“Good leaders create trust,” he said. They are also masters at managing conflict, motivating their staff to be committed to the project and team, embracing accountability, and focusing on results.” When it comes to influencing their team, he said, good managers “sell” their ideas. They also coach team members, identify and overcome barriers, and have an effective persuasion style. Most important, he said, is that they understand the individual personas of the people they lead.

Getting That New Job: A Guide to Applying, Interviewing, and Negotiating (43120) (Repeats as 53220)

The first step on the road to becoming a lab leader is getting that landmark position. In this session, Joe El-Khoury, PhD, of Yale University, focuses on several aspects of the job search, from applying, interviewing, and contract negotiation to accepting an offer. He wanted to lead this session, he said, because as a recent clinical chemistry fellowship graduate and job hunter, he found himself inadequately prepared for the basic process of getting a job.

“Where should I look? What will they ask me? How much should I ask for?” were some of his unanswered questions.  Unlike other positions, he said, this information is especially difficult to obtain for newly minted clinical laboratory professionals and cannot be found in large national salary databases for our field.

Luckily, he said, the Society for Young Clinical Laboratorians recently released a report containing detailed information on salaries, benefits, and other helpful information for young clinical chemists. He’ll go over the report as part of his presentation.