The Dark Report and MLO Magazine provide scholarships to the next generation of medical laboratory managers
With so many clinical laboratory managers and administrators of the Baby Boomer generation making retirement plans, it is timely for laboratories to address succession planning in their organization. One essential step is to intensify training for all up-and-coming medical laboratory managers.
As its contribution to this effort, The Dark Report collaborates with MLO Magazine to regularly publicize and offer scholarships to each year’s Executive War College on Laboratory and Pathology Management for a select number of young clinical laboratory managers. This year, one scholarship recipient was Doreen Ng, NCA-CLCP (for Clinical Laboratory Compliance Professional). She is the Manager of Quality Management and Compliance for Baylor College of Medicine Medical Genetics Laboratories in Houston, Texas.
Dark Daily contacted Ng after this year’s Executive War College, which took place on April 27-28 in New Orleans, Louisiana. We were interested to what someone from the next generation of clinical laboratory leaders took away from the conference. “I learned much that is both useful and practical,” she said. “For example, the information on current trends in the laboratory testing industry helped me understand why certain projects should be a high priority for our medical laboratory.
“With my compliance responsibilities, I attended a session on the HITECH act. I learned that the HITECH act is going to affect HIPAA rules even as it provides incentives for physicians to adopt and use electronic medical records (EMRs),” recalled Ng. “Our laboratory will need to understand the changes to make sure we are in compliance. As soon as I returned to Houston, I contacted our IT department to learn more about how the law will affect the lab. They plan to talk to the lab staff in August, after the federal government publishes guidance about the specific rules.
Ng participated in the full-day session “Lean for Lab Leaders” and found it to be immediately useful. “Before the session, I didn’t really understand the differences between Six Sigma and Lean,” she explained. “I learned that Six Sigma is about eliminating defects and reducing variation. By contrast, Lean is about eliminating waste while improving process flow to achieve speed and quality at lower cost.
“As a manager, this has reframed how I identify the sources of poor quality, while giving me new management tools to confidently attack the source of errors and inefficiencies in work processes,” added Ng. “Our instructor in the Lean sessions was Anne Daley (Senior Consultant at CHI Solutions) and, as a manager, she made an impression on me when she recommended that each work flow step should have one owner, not many owners. One person should be accountable for a specific element of work flow in the laboratory. This ownership helps ensure that continuous improvement takes place and that these gains are sustained month after month.”
Ng said the scholarship to the Executive War College was both an honor and a tremendous opportunity. “The cost of attending the Executive War College had not been budgeted, and this was not a year that I could ask them to add anything to the budget,” Ng stated. “Without the scholarship from The Dark Report and MLO, I probably wouldn’t have been able to attend.”
Ng earned a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry from the University of Kansas. She worked for two years as a research technician and then a project manager in a pharmaceutical research environment before moving to Houston to work for Baylor. She has been with the Baylor College of Medicine for seven years, with three of those years in lab management. In her scholarship application, she said that she considers herself a very junior member of the management team and that one of her responsibilities is to educate herself in management principles and tools.
“I’ve been a subscriber and regular reader of Dark Daily since 2009, and I’ve learned a lot through reading the articles about developments in the lab testing industry. I knew the information I’d get would be helpful,” Ng said. At this point in her career, she added, the opportunity to come to an educational session like the Executive War College and to mingle with more senior laboratory managers was invaluable. “I heard a lot of good ideas talking with other laboratory managers in the hallways between sessions,” said Ng. “Now I want to put some of these ideas to work in our laboratory.”
To share the knowledge she gained at the Executive War College, Ng plans to create a report on what she learned and circulate it to colleagues at Baylor. She also plans to present the information at her laboratory’s monthly operational and Quality Management Committee meeting.
Doreen Ng’s experience demonstrates how the Executive War College can be a rich learning experience for younger laboratory managers who want to advance their management career and make a bigger contribution at their clinical laboratory. For more than five years, The Dark Report and MLO Magazine have offered these scholarships to the Executive War College.
In late fall, The Dark Report and MLO will announce the availability of applications for scholarships to the 2011 Executive War College. Pathologists and clinical laboratory administrators should encourage their brightest young management stars to apply. —K. Branz