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Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene

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WSLH PT Blog

Bringing you clinical lab features, news, and updates via the WSLH PT Blog! If you are interested in receiving an email digest of news along with curated staff picks from around the internet, sign up for WSLH PT’s monthly newsletter, The MedLab Retriever.

The Search For CE Credits

Continuing Education Resources for Laboratory Staff

Continuing education instills in us a culture of life-long learning, which is intrinsic to the ever-changing nature of our scientific profession as laboratory professionals. There are a lot of resources available that offer both formal and informal training for a variety of purposes that help us achieve our professional development goals. For many laboratory professionals who work in CLIA certified clinical labs, it is required to complete CE credits to maintain certification with the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP). Cost can be a big factor in our search for credits, especially for those much sought after ASCP P.A.C.E.® certified credits. In this article, we look at some of the available resources by cost, review some pros and cons commonly associated with those resources, and discuss how lab staff can be supported in their efforts to attain Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

If you are one of those Medical Technologists who works to maintain their “MLS (ASCP)” certification every three years, finding reliable and affordable ASCP P.A.C.E.® certified credits can be a challenge. For many of us, we are constantly on the search, asking our clinical lab peers for recommendations on where to find free or low cost courses. Some companies and organizations that offer free, on-demand PACE® certified units include ARUP Laboratories, Beckman Coulter, and CDC Train, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s training system. To search for free, PACE® certified courses in CDC Train, select the option of “Free Courses” under “Common Filters” and “PACE” under “Credit Type” in the Filters side bar on their continuing education course offering page.

There are certainly pros and cons to individuals finding their own free, Continuing Education Units (CEUs). The availability of courses that are free is certainly one of the primary factors in an individual’s decision to conduct their own search for resources. However, a few of the cons that have encouraged some laboratory professionals to purchase access to online training and course competency tests include “peace-of-mind” and an “easy experience.” For example, many individuals are familiar with ASCP’s continuing education credit offerings; and may choose to pay for their courses. However, if an individual is expected to cover their own costs associated with attaining credits, then monetary investment may be a deciding factor in choosing to “go the free route.” Given such pros and cons in gaining CEUs, laboratory managers are increasingly offering their staff access to CEUs as a job perk, or advantage, to help their employees maintain their certification.

Increasingly, laboratory managers are offering free and easy access to attaining CEUs by purchasing continuing education packages for their staff. With WSLH Proficiency Testing for example, lab management can purchase training and competency bundles at minimal cost with access for up to 30 users. Additional users may be added for a small fee. WSLH Proficiency Testing partners with the University of Washington’s Medical Training Solutions (MTS) to offer online training and competency courses. This low-cost fee helps WSLH PT’s partner instructors assure that the 50+ Continuing Education (CE) coursework is fully customizable and stays in step with emergent learning trends. Full customization means that clinical labs can select their own tests tailored to staff training and individual professional development goals, as well as upload, streamline, and track your documentation. You can also expect high quality multimedia content developed by the University of Washington. Clinical labs can learn more, view products, and request a demo account online on WSLH Proficiency Testing’s website.

Whether or not the CEUs are attained for the primary purpose of maintaining certification, continuing education helps lab staff fulfill their needs and desires to expand their knowledge base and gain leadership skills as they progress in their careers. According to an article published by Lab Manager in 2019, laboratories indicated a variety of preferred training methods beyond the realm of attaining CEUs, such as: monitoring quality trends, conducting annual employee training documentation reviews, taking a class, attending workshops and joining a committee of a professional association. For those who can leave the bench for a day or so, attaining Continuing Education Units (CEUs) at conferences is one of the preferred ways many laboratory professionals receive the CEUs and other forms of training needed to stay current. For those attending conferences this year, ASCP and AACC will be hosting conferences in-person this year. The 2022 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo will be held on July 24-28 in Chicago, Illinois. The 2022 ASCP Annual Meeting and 100th celebration will be held in Chicago, Illinois as well on September 7-9. Continuing Education credits will be available for attendees to earn at both of these conferences.

Within the healthcare field, technology and testing protocols are ever-changing to meet today’s needs. To help us navigate our increasingly demanding jobs to gain CE credits, many more online offerings are available than ever before to bridge the gaps in training access. Having immediate access online and studying at your own pace can help to better balance all of the other necessary tasks in your day-to-day workload. Lab managers are also stepping in to provide easy access to their employees through purchasing continuing education packages that can be customized for their staff’s needs. There are a variety of ways people attain CE credits and other forms of training to help them succeed. Our purposes vary as well, from gaining CE credits for maintaining certification to developing our leadership skills needed to progress in our careers and to transition into leadership roles. However you are working towards professional growth goals, WSLH Proficiency Testing wishes your team the all the best in your pursuits and achievements. 

 

 

 

This article is featured in our monthly newsletter, The MedLab Retriever. Sign up to receive your digest of clinical lab news, memes, and more:

WSLH PT Blog

Bringing you clinical lab features, news, and updates via the WSLH PT Blog! If you are interested in receiving an email digest of news along with curated staff picks from around the internet, sign up for WSLH PT’s monthly newsletter, The MedLab Retriever.

Developing ourselves, together through service

We all know that making connections and continuing our education matters for our development as clinical laboratory professionals. Joining a professional clinical association can be an excellent avenue for boosting our professional development. There are countless benefits for our membership in a professional association. We network and connect with others at conferences hosted by professionals associations, for various reasons. We obtain continuing education credits (CE) at conferences and year-round online. We also take other avenues to educate ourselves and others through training and competency coursework offered by colleges or other providers dedicated to clinical laboratory improvement. Taking advantage of these learning opportunities help us stay proficient in our knowledge, skills, and abilities and helps us stay up-to-date on industry trends. What we may not always take into account is the beneficial return we receive when investing some of our precious time and energy to take on a leadership role or invest in our education. Clinical laboratorians are very busy year-round; how do we justify the time we spend on our professional development initiatives?

Our time and energy is precious. If you are thinking about volunteering, be sure to spend plenty of time reflecting and discerning why you’re taking on a leadership role. Choosing volunteer opportunities that provide a selections process can help determine if the project or committee goals align with your professional development and leadership goals. Regardless of the organization’s process, understanding why you are getting involved can help determine if the service position is relevant to you, and a nourishing environment for your development. Do you want to deepen your professional relationships? Do you want to find ways to increase knowledge-sharing in the industry? Do you want to develop your leadership competencies to help you step into a managerial role? It is important when considering your involvement in a professional association that you feel an enthusiastic “Yes.” If you are feeling neutral about the subject, you may need more time or different questions to determine your interest. If you are not feeling enthusiastic about getting involved, it may mean that other areas of your work and life need your attention and care instead.

Volunteering can significantly impact our learning experience, assuming that our model of leadership development is based primarily on direct, practical experience. Taking on a leadership role with a professional association can therefore be a great way to supplement our current on-the-job experience. Seeking volunteer experiences outside of our industry and in the communities where we live also provides us learning and leadership opportunities that we can carry with us into our careers. There are so many skills that you already use every day at work and at home. What do you want to learn? When seeking volunteer opportunities outside of work, cross out the “can do” skills and focus on the “want-to” skills – the ones that you could see yourself using every day without getting bored. Learning skills outside of work that you will enjoy will help you develop strengths that can impact your career and quality of life in ways that you may not expect. Start out by recognizing the strengths that you are already using in your everyday life. Print out a list of strengths or gifts, circle the skills and abilities that you have and underline the ones that you want. Don’t forget to add your own, if you do not see your particular strength or gift listed!

If you are interested in getting involved in a professional association, maintaining annual membership is the very first step, of course. There are many national and international professional associations with regional and state chapters where you can get involved. Below, you will find a list of the professional associations known for their substantial membership and volunteer opportunities. Click on the hyperlinked text to discover ways to get involved, including governance councils, program committees, and communications teams.

  • AABB: International, not-for-profit association representing individuals and institutions involved in the field of transfusion medicine and cellular therapies. Formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks.

    Get Involved: AABB Assessor, Mentoring Program, Committee Membership, Junior (Student) Committee Membership, Social Media Collaboration, Leadership-Run for Office, Transfusion Medicine Section, Cellular Therapies Section, AABB Hub (Knowledge Sharing Forum)
  • American Society for Clinical Pathology: Mission is to provide excellence in education, certification, and advocacy on behalf of patients, pathologists, and laboratory professionals across the globe

    Get involved: Public Policy, Career Ambassador 2.0, Patient Champions, Partners for Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment in Africa, Center for Global  Health, Choosing Wisely, Social Media Team, Governance and Member Councils, ASCP Product Development, and BOC Exam Committees
  • CLMA: An international association whose mission is to empower laboratory professionals to achieve excellence in leadership through forward-thinking educational, networking, and advocacy opportunities

    Get Involved: Regarding CLMA Chapters, ASCP is now coordinating the activation of CLMA Chapters in your local area. For 2022, ASCP is waiving the Chapter administrative fee, as CLMA members transition to membership with ASCP.

Getting involved by volunteering, whether with a professional clinical association or with a community organization of your choosing, is a great way to reflect on the strengths you have and to gain the strengths that you want. Giving time to reflect and ask ourselves discerning questions can help us frame our thinking in ways that align our achievement values, professional goals, and leadership development choices. Developing our professional selves with more care and intention helps us become more aware of our strengths and areas of improvement as leaders, helping us joyfully grow our impact for ourselves, each other, and for next generation of clinical laboratory professionals. When we purposefully engage ourselves in community-centered, learning experiences, we open up the doors for more leadership opportunities in our career, and beyond.

This article is featured in our monthly newsletter, The MedLab Retriever. Sign up to receive your digest of clinical lab news, memes, and more: