So what exactly do I do on my international escapades? I work with my laboratory professional association (mostly), American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) who is under contract with the CDC to help improve laboratory capacity, quality, standards and processes in developing nations. Basically, I work with labs around the world to help them establish lab processes and procedures that meet international standards to collect, handle and process and test laboratory specimens safely and with accuracy, so that the results: 1) are the right patient 2) can be counted on for accuracy and 3) provide info to the clinician in a timely manner so he/she can diagnose and initiate treatment if necessary. And, most of the lab work in these nations are for the “big three” HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis (and in some places, malaria). So…I get called to work closely with international colleagues, review processes and procedures, help mentor lab scientists with quality and process improvement—and do a lot of training, especially in the blood collection part of the process. My last trips over the past several years have included a variety of these things and recently in Central Asia, mostly blood collection training.
The work I get to do is rewarding, engaging, energizing, humbling, and one small way to give back some knowledge and experience to things I am passionate about—but it’s always so good to be home!
-Beverly Sumwalt, MA, DLM, CLS, MT(ASCP) is an ASCP Global Outreach Volunteer Consultant.