CAP@Your Service – Residents Issue – Fall 2008
How would you define the word “progress?” According to Webster, there are two definitions. The first is “a moving forward or onward.” I feel that there is something missing from this definition. For example, you can keep moving forward or onward in time without improving or changing your current status.
The second Webster definition is “advance toward perfection or to a higher or better state; improvement.” While perfection might be a fairly lofty goal, I think the key to this definition and to the heart of progress, are the words advance, higher, better, improvement.
Now is the time for progress in the profession of pathology. We aim to not just move forward or onward in a stagnant matter, completing our daily tasks in a manner consistent with the way it has always been done. We aim to advance and to improve our profession to a higher or better state.
How are we going to do this, you ask? Enter the College of American Pathologists.
The CAP has just launched a brand new initiative called Transformation of the Specialty of Pathology. The goals, which must be embraced first and foremost by residents to whom the future of the profession is the most grave, include helping pathologists become more pervasive in the practice of medicine. The CAP believes, and I happen to agree, that for our profession to continue to be successful, the pathologist must evolve his or her skills in preventive, diagnostic, and prognostic medicine. With the rapid pace of technological advances in today’s world, it is feasible to have concern over whether some of the pathologist’s expertise can be accomplished through automation or other professionals or staff persons. If the pathologist can carve a niche of necessity to his or her clinical colleagues, by becoming an integral part of the decision-making process in patient care, then the future of the profession can be ensured. We might hope to accomplish this with the help of the CAP, who is taking a leadership role for the profession by addressing the future and launching its transformation platform.
What can we do as residents? Importantly, we have to be active.
It’s inspiring to think about change and imagine a great new role for ourselves in the future where we’re consulted by clinicians to interpret test results that might shape their treatment choice for a patient. Unfortunately, thinking and imagining isn’t going to get us there.
We can start by understanding that our knowledge of the natural history of disease, its cellular and molecular makeup and alterations, and its prognoses are already an enormous building block to taking the next step in helping to guide treatment. We can get up from behind the microscope and go visit patients, talk to their clinicians, and review the charts. We can interpret labs and provide information on differential diagnoses, the necessity of additional testing, and which steps to take next, which will not only make ourselves indispensable, it also will aid in patient care and cut down on unnecessary testing. Certainly, focusing on quality improvement of current practices will help us advance the profession, as patient safety and being economically savvy are of tremendous importance in today’s world.
Start your own progression by visiting cap.org/transformation and learning how to achieve the first step into ensuring your future as a pathologist.
Want to have the Residents Forum take action? Contact me and we’ll figure out how to get it accomplished. Together we will build a successful future for our profession.
Amanda Brehm Wehler, DO
Chair of the Residents Forum