Continuing Ed for Med/Lab Workers
By Jennifer LeClaire | Monster Contributing Writer
Medical lab workers could be described as the detectives of the healthcare industry.
Just as detectives use fingerprints to help police and prosecutors find, arrest and convict criminals, medical technologists use patient specimens to help doctors diagnose, treat and monitor diseases. Likewise, just as detectives must strive to keep up with the latest sleuthing techniques and technologies, medical lab workers must strive to keep up with the latest scientific research and discoveries in their field.
That’s where continuing education (CE) comes in.
“Things change so quickly in the world of medicine, and it’s important to be aware of those changes,” says Ann Tiehen, education coordinator for the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) in Chicago. “It’s also important to go back and review the basics every once in a while.”
Therein lies the dilemma.
With the current shortage of laboratory workers across the country, when does the information-seeking medical technologist find the time to take off work to attend a CE course? Experts say there are more options than you might think. From journal reading to computer-based options, CE is evolving to meet the needs of busy med/lab professionals.
Reading, Writing and CE
The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) in Bethesda, Maryland, features bimonthly articles on new research in its Clinical Laboratory Science journal. For a nominal fee, laboratorians who wish to earn CE credits need only read a series of articles, take a quiz and send it to the ASCLS for grading.
A similar CE opportunity is available through the “Learning Scope” reading program, which the ASCLS offers jointly with the Advance magazine group.
“Reading of any sort is one of the hallmarks of being a professional,” says ASCLS executive vice president Elissa Passiment. “Taking the test validates that you read the material. It’s as valid an approach to continuing education as going to a live class.”
For its part, the ASCP offers “Tech Sample,” a self-paced home-study program designed to help busy laboratorians keep their skills sharp. Tiehen says Tech Sample courses are practical, because students receive a case study along with color images or other lab data to illustrate the problem.
CE in the 21st Century
The healthcare industry is also embracing computer technology to deliver educational opportunities. CD-ROMs and Internet-based classes are gaining popularity among medical lab workers.