Scholarship program for aspiring clinical laboratory managers helps them sharpen their skills
Over in Africa, one of Uganda’s main clinical laboratory organizations is about to go “Lean.” Credit for that development goes to one intrepid medical laboratory leader and his trip across the Atlantic to participate at the Executive War College on Lab and Pathology (EWC) that took place in New Orleans last May.
Faithful readers of Dark Daily will remember Ali Elbireer, MT (ASC). He was this year’s winner of a unique clinical laboratory education scholarship that is awarded annually by The Dark Report and Medical Laboratory Observer. This scholarship is designed to advance the medical laboratory management skills and careers of the clinical laboratory industry’s most promising “up and comers.” (See Dark Daily, “ Teaching the Next Generation of Clinical Pathology Laboratory Managers, April 11, 2011“.)
Elbireer holds certification with the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) as a Medical Technologist. He is also a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ), as well as a certified Six-Sigma Green Belt.
Operating a Clinical Laboratory in Kampala, Uganda
In Uganda, Elbireer is the Laboratory Administrative Director for the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) in Kampala. This clinical laboratory is part of the Makerere University-Johns Hopkins University (MU-JHU) Core Lab in Kampala. In addition, he is a founding member of the Becton Dickinson (BD) Laboratory Training Program at the Infectious Diseases Institute.
Elbireer’s Comments on the 2011 Executive War College
“Participating at the Executive War College was one of the best laboratory interaction experiences in my entire career as a laboratory professional,” said Elbireer. “Having so many laboratory professionals, leadership, regulatory, industry, and international laboratory colleagues from different parts of the world in the same room to discuss many of the concerns that face laboratory professionals—nowadays and in the future—is absolutely magnificent.
“For me, it opened the doors for many opportunities to take new knowledge back to my clinical laboratory in Uganda,” Elbireer continued. “It was a rich learning experience to sit in sessions and hear how progressive pathologists and medical laboratory managers were improving the performance of their laboratory organizations.”
Learning How to Use Lean in Medical Laboratories
In Elbireer’s case, the biggest “aha moment” came while he was attending the EWC’s full-day “Lean for Laboratory Leaders” workshop that took place on the day following the close of the Executive War College.
“As a Six Sigma Green Belt, I am familiar with many of the techniques for continuous improvement and reducing the variation of work processes,” observed Elbireer. “However, that full-day Lean session that was taught by Steve Stone of Argent Global gave me the big picture on how Lean techniques and Six Sigma tools can be combined to improve the clinical services a medical laboratory delivers to physicians and patients while helping the lab staff boost productivity, reduce average lab test turnaround times, and cut costs.
“In particular, that Lean training was tremendously helpful for me to understand laboratory layout challenges and the opportunities for creating an efficient laboratory structure,” Elbireer explained. “These concepts are particularly helpful in some resource-limited settings in Africa, where efficiency—and the ability to reduce costs while providing quality outcomes—are needed not only in laboratories, but for the entire healthcare system.
“Currently, I am preparing a Lean training session for my team and other healthcare colleagues in my healthcare center in Uganda to explore ways to help improve lab and healthcare service delivery with the least possible cost,” Elbireer said.
With planning underway in Uganda for a future new clinical laboratory facility, Elbireer found sessions at the Executive War College devoted to laboratory automation—and advanced ways to organize an automation laboratory—to be very relevant to his situation. “There were several sessions about the latest world-class laboratory automation designing and operation,” he stated. “I am working with my team in Kampala to apply these ideas as part of the prospective laboratory plans we are developing here in Uganda.”
As Elbireer’s comments indicate, this scholarship program designed to help the next generation of clinical laboratory managers acquire new knowledge and skills is effective. The Dark Report and Medical Laboratory Observer magazine will offer this scholarship program once again for the 17th Annual Executive War College on Laboratory and Pathology Management, which will happen on May 1-2, 2012, at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans. Stay tuned for announcements that the scholarship program is open and accepting applications.