By Fred Rodriguez, MD
President, NAACLS Board of Directors
“inertia: indisposition to motion, exertion, or change”
(Merriam-Webster Dictionary, m-w.com)
Many individuals seek comfort in the “status quo.” They seek to be “inert.” They work to develop an understanding of the existing situation and “rules” in order to achieve a “comfort zone” in the here and now. There is resistance to change because change alters the “status quo.” Change forces individuals to learn new behaviors, or, at a minimum, to modify existing behaviors.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, the only constant in our lives, and our profession, is change. New knowledge, new technologies, new regulations, new standards, etc. are thrust upon us constantly. Change comes with new expectations, new demands, new challenges, but also with new opportunities.
Examples of where inertia needs to be avoided include the recent publication of the revised NAACLS standards, and the new reporting requirements regarding “outcome measures.” Just as “evidenced based medicine” is changing the patterns of practice of clinical medicine, so also, the monitoring and reporting of “outcome measures” for laboratory professional educational programs are an opportunity to document if what we teach and how we teach is making a difference in the success of our graduates and advancing our profession.
Some will criticize that the NAACLS “outcomes measures” seem arbitrary, or should not be applied to a specific discipline because of the uniqueness of the specific discipline. However, our profession has always been rooted in the principles of quality control, quality assurance, and performance improvement, and NAACLS focus on monitoring and measuring the “outcomes” of the students of our accredited programs is appropriate and justified. “Outcome measures” should not be mediocre, but should define high expectations commiserate with advancing the excellence of our profession.
I encourage the Program Directors of NAACLS accredited and approved programs to embrace the concepts of “outcome measures” in the same manner they have embraced the principles of quality control, quality assurance, and performance improvement. I exhort Program Directors not to be frustrated, and not to be “inert,” or “indisposed to change,” or satisfied with the “status quo.” I invite Program Directors to be proactive in the development of appropriate, innovative “outcome measures” to drive change in our educational programs to assure that our graduates are successful in the ever evolving environment of laboratory medicine. Managing change in the context of opportunity can overcome inertia and result in positive outcomes.