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Volunteer Opportunity Deadline is February 6th

Even though we are just half way through the society year, we are already looking forward to our next year that begins at the Annual Meeting in San Diego this summer.

Applications are now open for a number of volunteer opportunities that begin this spring as well as the national committee appointments for terms beginning in August.

The lifeblood of ASCLS is its volunteers whose talent, passion, insight, experience, effort and wisdom of is what powers the Society’s good work, amplifying the single voice of the laboratory science profession.

National volunteers on committees are critical to the achievement of the ASCLS mission, and grass roots members like you, who serve on them, are the people that GET THINGS DONE and help keep our organization moving forward.

ASCLS Representatives serve as the face of the Society to other organizations, such as the Board of Certification, the American Hospital Association and NAACLS. Serving ASCLS in one of these capacities allows you to have an influence within your professional organization which, in turn, sets the direction for the medical laboratory profession.

Diversity within the volunteer ranks makes ASCLS stronger. A mix of new and experienced professionals on all of the committees rejuvenate the organization with fresh ideas while those who have served ASCLS in various capacities over the years bring a wealth of institutional knowledge.

ASCLS utilizes an online system that matches volunteers with positions. Adding yourself to the volunteer pool is as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Login to the ASCLS Connect Community and fill out your regular member profile.
  2. Review all of the open volunteer opportunities.
  3. Apply for the opportunities where you think you can make the biggest contribution.

Deadline for application on the current volunteer opportunities is Monday February 6th, but your profile will be used throughout the association year to fill other volunteer opportunities as they arise.

Speaking with One Voice, Laboratorians Convince VA to Change Rule

It is our great pleasure to inform you that the efforts you made to alert the VA to problems with the agency's proposed rule expanding the authority for APRNs to "perform and supervise" laboratory testing has met with success.

Tomorrow, the VA will publish the final personnel regulations in the Federal Register with changes ASCLS and its members pursued.

We have successfully convinced the VA to adjust the language to better protect patients while expanding access to care for our nation’s veterans. Further, the VA calls out the "crucial role" laboratorians play in the care of VA patients. The key language explaining this change is below (with our emphasis added).

“Several commenters stated that they were concerned with proposed § 17.415(d)(1)(i)(B), where we stated that a Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP) may order, perform, or supervise laboratory studies. The commenters stated that the proposed language does not “adequately appreciate the levels of complexity involved in laboratory testing” and that there are rigid standards for laboratory tests that require rigorous academic and practical training, which are not part of the training for APRNs. Another commenter stated, “While the VHA uses the word ‘interpret’ in reference to laboratory and imaging studies,” the commenter “…infers that the VA’s intent is to grant the ability for CNPs to interpret laboratory and imaging results, not to interpret or report raw images or data.” The commenter suggested that VA amend the term “‘interpret’ and recommends instead to use ‘integrate results into clinical decision making,’ or some other phrase” in order to avoid confusion between the duties of an APRN and those of a laboratory specialist. We agree with the commenter in that the proposed language might be construed as allowing CNPs the ability to perform laboratory studies. It is not VA’s intent to have APRNs take over the role of laboratory specialists. These specialists perform a crucial role at VA medical facilities and are skillfully trained in performing the various testing techniques that allow health care professionals to properly treat a veteran’s medical condition. We are amending proposed § 17.415(d)(1)(i)(B) to now state that a CNP may be granted full practice authority to ‘Order laboratory and imaging studies and integrate the results into clinical decision making.’”

Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard and with so much passion to address this issue!

BOC, ASCLS, and ASCP Meet with CMS on Nursing Degree Equivalency Rule

The ASCP Board of Certification (BOC), American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) and American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) met on Sept. 27 with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in opposition to the Agency's April 1st declaration that a degree in nursing is equivalent to a degree in the biological sciences.

The groups representatives presented CMS with a petition, signed by more than 35,000 individuals opposed to CMS's degree equivalency policy. The petition drive was a community-wide effort led by ASCP and ASCLS to raise concern about CMS's policy that the nursing degree is equivalent to a biological sciences degree for purposes of doing non-waived laboratory testing under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of 1988.

The Agency's action, outlined in an April 1 memo, could allow an individual with a bachelor's degree in nursing to perform high complexity testing. Per the CLIA regulations, individuals with a bachelor's degree in a chemical, physical, or biological science are not required to complete training prior to performing high complexity laboratory testing. The April memorandum provided no reasoning behind the decision.

During the meeting, agency officials stated that the memorandum reflected a long standing "internal policy" that had been developed to address concerns about a shortage of testing personnel at physician office laboratories in rural areas. These testing sites are not often staffed by qualified laboratory professionals, such as those individuals who may be certified by the BOC. In response, representatives from ASCP, ASCLS, and the BOC raised concerns about negative impacts on patient care and the need to ensure the accuracy and reliability of all laboratory test results.

In addition, laboratory representatives provided CMS with side-by-side comparisons of typical nursing degree programs and laboratory science programs, noting that nursing degrees fall far short of the scientific coursework required to earn a degree in the biological sciences. In its June 22 letter to CMS, the BOC Board of Governors articulated concerns that nursing degrees provide only a fraction of the scientific coursework required for a biological sciences degree and that what scientific coursework nursing programs do require does not approach the level of achievement involved in obtaining a biological sciences degree.

During the meeting, representatives cited comments received from their respective memberships, including those from several individuals who hold degrees in both nursing and the biological sciences that agreed that the nursing degree does not provide the scientific foundations necessary to perform non-waived laboratory testing reliably.

The Agency indicated that it understood and appreciated our concerns. Agency representatives also indicated that CMS will be working to address this issue, and that it is currently examining how best to implement a change in policy. CMS noted that fixing this issue may require the Agency to propose new regulations and that if such a change is required it will soon begin working on draft regulations.

ASCLS appreciates its invaluable, federated partnership with ASCP through the BOC that has allowed the laboratory community to speak with one voice. Together, we will be working with CMS to develop a solution and hope to report progress on newsworthy developments soon.

Attending the meeting were ASCLS Executive Vice President Jim Flanigan, CAE; ASCLS Executive Vice President Emeritus Elissa Passiment, EdM; ASCP Chief Executive Officer E. Blair Holladay, PhD, SCT(ASCP)CM; BOC Executive Director Pat Tanabe, MPA, MLS(ASCP)CM; ASCP Chief Officer for Science, Technology and Policy Jeff Jacobs, MA; and ASCP Director for the Center for Public Policy Matthew Schulze.

To share your thoughts, visit the ASCLS Open Community or our Facebook page.

Share Your Advancements That Bring Efficiency to the Clinical Laboratory

ASCLS is participating with the Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA) on its Increasing Clinical Effectiveness™ (ICE) program designed to demonstrate positive contributions to the laboratory through increasing efficiency and value. Each year, CLMA collects abstracts that demonstrate these innovations and shares them with the laboratory community.

Health care is in the midst of unprecedented change, as it moves from a fee-for-service model to one that reimburses for value. This “volume to value” shift requires laboratories to re-think their approach to meeting the needs of their institutions or their agencies. This shift will require laboratories to broaden their focus beyond cost savings and operational efficiency to include measurable positive impact on patient outcomes.

Participate in ICE by submitting an abstract describing testing-related interventions and the quantifiable positive impact for patients produced. Winners will be recognized at CLMA's annual KnowledgeLab, March 26-29, 2017 in Nashville, Tenn. The highest rated abstract will also have the opportunity to present at the IFCC EuropMedLab 2017 in Athens, Greece, with paid airfare and registration.

Abstract submissions are due Friday, September 30. Abstracts should be 750 words or less across all four sections:

  • Statement of Problem or Background
  • Intervention/Study
  • Plan/Measures Data Analysis and Results
  • Discussion and Lessons Learned

If you have made important advancements to efficiency in the clinical laboratory field receive recognition for your contributions by submitting an abstract, sharing the results of your efforts and helping your peers learn from your experience.

Resources
Frequently Asked Questions
Library of Previous ICE Submissions
Program Requirements and Guidelines

Why do we need the ICE initiative?
In the USA, a shift in reimbursement is occurring from fee-for-service to value-based. Since the clinical laboratory represents only 3-5% of the national health expenditure, value cannot be impacted by focusing only on reducing laboratory costs. Therefore, it is imperative we shift our focus to clinical effectiveness to address the larger opportunity of waste that the IOM estimates at 30% of health expenditures.

What kinds of projects would meet the published criteria?
There are many kinds of projects that could meet the criteria. The current focus on reducing unnecessary repeat testing is an example if it can be clearly shown it is unnecessary and not just a means to save money. Data mining efforts that reduce the absence of follow-up testing associated with abnormal results is another example. Projects that increase the screening of appropriate adults for diabetes could be another. In each case, the key will be identifying appropriate outcome measures.

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Clinical Laboratory Science Editor-in-Chief

Applications for editor-in-chief (EIC) for Clinical Laboratory Science are now being accepted.

The EIC provides leadership and direction that results in the publishing of a well-respected, peer-reviewed, scientific journal. The EIC develops and reviews manuscripts, organizes journal functions to maintain editorial integrity and evaluates and makes adjustments to the journal as appropriate. Applicants should be a member of ASCLS, have authored peer reviewed publications, and served as a section editor of the journal or a similar position with another journal.

Clinical Laboratory Science is the official journal of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS).

Interested applicants should review the complete job description.

The journal is published quarterly by Westminster Publishers and is listed in PubMed. Application can be made vie email by September 1, 2016 to ASCLS President-Elect Suzanne Campbell (suzanne.campbell@hotmail.com).