Nancy Maddox 2016-03-21 12:09:34
Filling the Leadership Pipeline Although there are only a few hundred public health laboratory leaders in the United States, they shoulder an outsize responsibility for quick and effective laboratory response to any number of possible emergencies: outbreaks of emerging pathogens, catastrophic flooding, foodborne disease, chemical spills and more. Precisely because the stakes are so high, APHL considers workforce development a leading priority. The association is pleased to report that 2015 was a remarkable year for its National Center for Public Health Laboratory Leadership (NCPHLL). Two past NCPHLL Emerging Leader Program graduates ascended to state public health laboratory directorships: Lixia Liu, PhD, MP(ASCP), became director of the New Mexico Scientific Laboratory Division, and Maria Ishida, PhD, became director of the NY Department of Agriculture and Markets. In addition, the NCPHLL: Graduated Class 7 of the Emerging Leader Program and launched Class 8. For its group project, Class 7 added a series of middle school science lesson plans to a website — www.thatssick.org — created by Class 6. As stated on the site, “THAT’S SICK is a virtual open house designed to introduce students to the exciting careers in public health laboratory science.” Class 7 also hosted an “Ask me anything” Q&A session on Reddit.com (a social networking and news site used by high school and college students) and hosted a hands-on science program for middle school students at the Indiana Public Health Laboratory, in conjunction with the APHL annual meeting. Graduated the first class of emerging laboratory leaders outside the US. This pilot program, involving 10 Lesotho scientists, was lauded by the Lesotho Ministry of Health. Updated the Practical Guide to Public Health Laboratory Leadership to reflect new and emerging issues related to public health laboratory management. Revisions were made by Emerging Leader Program graduates, who now have their own group — the Network of Laboratory Leadership Alumni. Sponsored the development of two webinar series — one on professional mentoring and coaching; the other on Lean methodology, a management approach that emphasizes continuous quality improvement to maximize efficiency and minimize costs. Celebrated the MMWR publication of the NCPHLL-developed competency guidelines for public health laboratory professionals. The guidelines were completed in 2014 and run to 350 pages in length. They will now serve as the starting point for development of training tools, job descriptions, performance plans and career ladders. Also in 2015: APHL hosted 63 webinars with over 23,000 participants from clinical, academic and public health laboratories from the US and 16 other countries. Topics ranged from biosafety and antimicrobial resistance to quality systems, next generation sequencing and biomonitoring. The APHL/CDC National Laboratory Training Network (NLTN) offered 70 courses for over 3,500 registrants and sponsored the biennial meeting of state public health laboratory training coordinators in Atlanta, GA. You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure With this maxim in mind, APHL works to assure that its member laboratories do measure and track quality metrics. In 2015, the Iowa State Hygienic Laboratory and the Montana Laboratory Services Bureau completed their second Laboratory System Improvement Program (L-SIP) assessment, designed to measure a laboratory’s ability to carry out the 10 essential public health services. Virginia’s Fairfax County Health Department Laboratory and Kentucky’s Louisville Metro Health Department Laboratory completed their first L-SIP assessments. In Denver, CO, and Silver Spring, MD, APHL hosted two workshops, addressing the three elements of laboratory quality management systems: non-conforming event management, internal audits and quality indicators. In the virtual realm, the association developed two webinars on the use of quality standards in biochemical genetic testing. APHL released the results of its biennial Comprehensive Laboratory Services Survey, the only data source for Healthy People 2020 (HP 2020) Objective PHI-11—to “increase the proportion of [governmental] public health agencies that provide or assure comprehensive laboratory services to support essential public health services.” Results show that several HP 2020 targets were met, among them data management, food safety and emergency response. The only area with movement away from the HP 2020 target is environmental health.
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