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.