Becoming a lifelong learner is a deliberate act. It can enhance our understanding of the world around us, provide us with more and better opportunities and improve our quality of life. Hear from an ASCP member pathologist, lab professional and resident about how they foster lifelong learning skills.
“There are moments that stick with us for a lifetime. In 1974, during an interview for a first-year pathology residency position at a well-respected academic institution, the residency program director told me that completing residency and fellowship training did not make a person a mature, independent-functioning pathologist. He went on to say that at least five years of post-training experience would be needed to allow a person to serve as a competent pathologist with enough judgment to manage difficult and uncommon cases. For the past forty years, I have appreciated the wisdom of the program director’s insights, which taught me that the practice of pathology requires years of patience, a high titer of humility, a willingness and ability to build relationships with pathologists who serve as collaborators, who help nurture our growth, and who inspire a commitment to lifelong learning. In 1984, when I joined the faculty of the University of Washington, I met Earl Benditt, MD, one of America’s most accomplished pathologists. Earl was 68-years-old and, at the time, held the longest, continuously funded grant in the history of the National Institutes of Health. While he was already a preeminent investigator in atherosclerosis, Earl turned his attention to the development of molecular techniques to enhance his research. Because Earl never stopped learning, he always excelled.
“The pathology residency program director and Dr. Benditt taught me valuable lessons: be patient, be a lifelong learner, consult with others, don’t be afraid to ask for help, stay humble, devote yourself to your patients through commitments to excellence in pathology practice, seek mentors and role models who reveal the best in personal qualities and practice, and regardless of age or accomplishments, learn new technology and apply it to your work. The journey to become a good pathologist lasts for the duration of our careers. Persevere!”
Stanley J. Geyer, MD, FASCP
“For an ambitious individual in any field, one should start craving the progression of wanting to be a more well-rounded professional. That can be come in form of being more technically sound, taking on more administrative responsibilities, or pursuing additional degrees and certifications. An interesting avenue I ventured off into was taking an interest in the logistics and supply field, specifically for the laboratory. While being a tedious and daunting task at times, it has been rewarding, and I felt like I was exposed to a whole new world. Some of my highlights of working in the logistical field were learning about and writing supply contracts, managing annual operating budgets, and reviewing competitive bids from suppliers and manufacturers for laboratory equipment and products. This experience, along with pursuing an MBA in graduate school, has given me different insight of the overall functionality of the laboratory from a budgeting standpoint. A thirst for professional and personal development are key concepts for success. ASCP is an excellent organization for networking and helping to spark that fire of ambition. I urge everyone to challenge themselves every day to be better, be creative, be innovative, and be relentless in all aspects of being a professional.”
Keron A Liverpool, MLT(ASCP)CM
“Simple things can make all the difference. Cultivate relationships with co-residents and also staff you see on a regular basis but do not know well. Being friends with the file room and accessioning teams and custodians can strengthen your sense of belonging to a work community. Do not underestimate the power of small acts of kindness. Check in with those ‘under’ you who are climbing learning curves, and do not forget what it felt like to climb. Reaching out to a co-worker who looks sad and asking if they’re up for a coffee break, or sending a short text message that says ‘you’re doing a great job’ may be the one thing that keeps someone going. Some may say that Pathology is ‘in the basement,’ but we can also be seen as the heart of the hospital, where specimens get shuttled in, and answers get pumped out. Take pride in being part of a team that works hard and humbly behind the scenes to provide answers that affect patients.”
Kelly Mooney, MD