Career Tip: Commit to Being a Lifelong Learner

May 02, 2018

Many people wonder what they can do to become well-rounded and competitive while advancing their career. An often overlooked yet simple way to improve is to increase your knowledge by being a lifelong learner. Hear the advice of two ASCP members on how they have advanced their careers.


Lab Professionals

“I have found that there are two characteristics that propel laboratory professionals ahead. The first is what I call hunger. The ‘hungry’ individuals are those who are driven to succeed and are willing to put in the work to gain the experience and knowledge they desire. They often take on additional responsibilities at work and are active in professional associations such as ASCP. They know that although they aren’t getting paid for their volunteer time, they will reap great benefit from their work in the form of knowledge and experience gained, as well as valuable networking all while serving the laboratory community.

The second characteristic is committing to being a lifelong learner. This goes hand in hand with being ‘hungry.’ How often do you see those who have risen to the top of their profession with multiple credentials including certifications and degrees? Lifelong learners recognize that they can always learn more for the benefit of their laboratories, their patients and their career paths in general. My advice is to take the course, go to the conference, pursue the degree and/or sign up for the certification exam if it interests you. Mentor others and allow yourself to be mentored. Follow your passions and you’ll be surprised how far you’ll go and the impact you will make.” 



Pathologists and Residents

“Keep an open mind and consider new opportunities as they arise, even if they aren't on the path you thought you would be taking. When I started residency, I thought I would do basic science research and clinical work; teaching was something I did because I was good at it and enjoyed it, but I never thought seriously about medical education as a career path. A few years into my postdoc, I was offered the chance to participate in designing and teaching a new medical school curriculum. I said yes, and I’ve never regretted my decision. It’s also important to cultivate a network of mentors in different fields, and with diverse expertise and experiences, since you never know when you'll need advice from an unexpected place. The people who can advise you now may not be the people whose guidance you will need five years down the road. I was lucky to have mentors on the medical education track who could advise me, and help me to establish myself in the field.”

Scott Lovitch, MD, PhD, FASCP