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2014 Lab Leadership Awards

October 31, 2014
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Every year, the Laboratory Medicine Program presents the Lab Leadership Award to three members of our LMP team in formal recognition of the leadership they have demonstrated over the past year.

“Leadership can mean many different things in laboratory medicine,” explained Michele Henry, Senior Director, LMP, who presented the three recipients with their awards. “We have roles for ‘official’ leaders, but what makes these three winners worthy is that they demonstrate leadership in their everyday work.”

Staff are nominated by their colleagues and coworkers explaining at length why the nominee  was worthy of being recognized as a leader in LMP.

Our three winners for the 2014 Lab Leadership Awards are Wes Morrison, Jennifer Hardaker and Anselmo Fabros.

We spoke with out three winners about the award and what it means to be a lab leader:

DSC03862Wes Morrison:

What is your position in LMP?

I am a Medical Lab Technologist with a Molecular Genetics / Cytogenetics specialty designation

How long have you worked here?

I started in March 2004, so 10+ years!

What are some projects/activities that you are working on?

In addition to my day to day job responsibilities in the busy molecular lab, I am also a member of the LMP safety advisory group and serve as the clinical co-ordinator for Michener Institute’s Genetics Technology program.  I am a strong proponent of continuing education in the workplace and along with other like-minded colleagues we try to organize semi-regular con-ed sessions for our co-workers.  Outside of work I have continued my education by recently earning a Quality Management in the Clinical Setting certificate from the Michener Institute, and a LEAN 6-sigma greenbelt from the American Society of Quality.  Among other things, I have been able to use the knowledge from these courses to work with other members of the lab on a electronic data integration project.  As a result of the project, we as a lab have been able to reduce manual transcription errors, save technologist’s time, maximize existing electronic data technologies and take small steps towards becoming a paperless laboratory.  In all of my experiences it has been my interactions with my co-workers and being able to share in the successes of each other’s accomplishments that have been the most rewarding.

What would you say to others looking to serve as “leaders in the laboratory”?

Becoming a leader in the laboratory does not necessarily have to be a conscious decision.  For me, following my passions, respecting and listening to others and recognizing my own strengths and weaknesses were the easiest leadership traits to embrace and have led me to where I am now.

2014-10-24 09.49.47-2Anselmo Fabros:

What’s Your Position in LMP?

Senior Medical Technologist

How long have you worked here?

Nine Years

What are some projects/activities that you are working on? 

I help in Method and instrument validation, procedure implementation and staff training in serology testing and the intra-op PTH bench. I also help in troubleshooting the instruments, QC review and evaluation.

What would you say to others looking to serve as “leaders in the laboratory”?

I believe leaders should have the ability to communicate and listen, and bring out the best in others to accomplish outstanding results of a collective endeavor. A leader requires a vision and needs relationships with others to accomplish task.  Teamwork also plays a vital role in my shift, smallest contribution is acknowledged and recognized to keep co-workers motivated as leading by example is the best way in getting things done.

DSC03864Jennifer Hardaker:

What’s Your Position in LMP?

I am Senior Cytotechnologist in Cytopathology

How long have you worked here?

I have worked for UHN for 49 years as of November 8

What are some projects/activities that you are working on? 

I do routine microscopic screening as do all the other Cytotechnologists. At the moment, part of my duties involves following up specimens that get ordered in EPR, but for which we don’t get a specimen. This is usually due to order error or duplicate orders, but occasionally specimens lose their way. We notify the most responsible physician and if the specimen does exist, we institute a search, with the cooperation of Specimen Management.  It is partly detective work – our own CSI (Cytology specimen investigation). We interact with Risk Management in these cases. I also assist with training and evaluation of Cytotechnology Students from The Michener Institute and from Dalhousie University.

What would you say to others looking to serve as “leaders in the laboratory”?

My advice to those just starting out in any discipline of laboratory work: Be sure to accept any challenges offered by your supervisor or management. Volunteer for projects.  Take relevant courses and keep an open mind.

 

Usually these leadership awards are presented at the annual LMP Staff Appreciation BBQ in the summer, however with the move of the BBQ indoors this was not possible – so the awards were presented this week to each winner in their lab area.

“We heard examples of how these individuals support, teach and mentor their team members and how they tackled tough projects or volunteered for committees. We heard how these winners led by example and acted as problem solvers, positive thinkers and were enthusiastic about working with their team and for our patients,” explained Michele. “There were many outstanding nominees – which speaks to the incredible staff we have in our labs – and our three winners join an illustrious group of previous winners who all do outstanding work in our labs every day. It was a pleasure to present them with their awards.”

Wes, Jennifer and Anselmo were chosen as the 2014 Lab Leadership Awards winners from an impressive list of nominees who were all nominated by their colleagues and peers. Congratulations to the winners and all the nominees.

Lucy Andrighetti,  EM Pathology

Alfreda Antonio,  Histopathology

Daniel Cao,  Immunopathology

Carsen Chan,  Histopathology

Denise Dilworth, Specimen Mgt. Core Lab

Boris Ister,  Histopathology

Nasser Jowahir,  Surg Path

Eva Krolikowski, Specimen Mgt. Core Lab

Joy Lawrence,  Specimen Mgt. Core Lab

Pam McCartin,  Immunopathology

Patsy Raymond, Specimen Mgt. PMH

Judy Thorne,  Cytopathology

Wai Wong,  Histopathology

Dr. Rasmus Kiehl and the Gerry & Nancy Pencer Brain Trust Art Show

October 24, 2014
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art showOn Friday, October 24th, the Gerry & Nancy Pencer Brain Trust on the 18th floor of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, held an Art Show to showcase some of the art of the patients, volunteers and clinicians of the clinic.

LMP’s Dr. Rasmus Kiehl, one of our neuropathologists, showcased several pieces of his art in the show. Many of his pieces hang in the halls of Toronto General Hospital., on the 11th floor, outside the Anatomic Pathology lab. Dr. KIehl uses microscopic images to create “compositional microscopy art.” He uses digital microscopy images to re-create an existing famous work of art, with many of the topics in his artwork centred around brain tumours.

art show2Also, included in the art show was a piece by  Dr. Catherine Maurice, who is a neurologist currently doing a neuro-oncology fellowship at PMH and will soon be on staff at the Pencer Cancer Centre. Here she is in front of her oil painting “A Field Of Cortex” that she painted for the Pathology Department and that will be on permanent display here, in LMP, in the near future.

Text from the booklet for that painting:
“The cerebral cortex is organized in 6 distinctive layers, each of them having a specific function. The painting represents a garden composed of different types of flowers representing each cell population. It is a concrete painting with special attention to Neurology.”

LMP and OSMT: An Interview with Karim Bhaloo

September 26, 2014
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KarimLast week, Karim Bhaloo, MLT in our cytogenetics laboratory, was named Vice-President of the Ontario Society of Medical Technologists (OSMT) and Chair of the MLA/T Examination Committee during the recent OSMT conference in Kingston, ON. The editorial team of The Pathology Report recently had a chance to sit down with Karim and talk to him about the OSMT, his new role and why he encourages other laboratory professionals to get involved.

Congratulations on being names Vice-President of OSMT. What are some things you are looking forward to in this new role?

Thank you. The biggest thing I’m looking forward to as Vice-President of OSMT is interacting with various stakeholders, internal and external to OSMT, in order to advance the interests of our profession and members. I am also looking forward to enhancing my leadership and communication skills as a leader in the industry.

Why is being involved with OSMT important to you?

Being involved with the OSMT is important, and should be important to all MLTs and MLA/Ts, because they are the advocate for the profession before the College, they provide leadership opportunities, are part of many stakeholder groups, and provide value added benefits such as educational courses, conferences, and professional liability insurance required by our regulatory body to name a few.

How did you first get involved with OSMT?

In the late 1980’s I wrote my OSMT certification exam as part of my MLA/T education process and worked as an MLA/T at a private laboratory. After further education, I became an MLT and contributed an article on the RHPA for the ADVOCATE magazine.

A little over four years ago, I decided to put my name forward to be the District Director (5) representing Toronto and over that time period, I have been the Chair of the conference committee that was held in Niagara Falls and chaired the Editorial Committee. Even now, as Vice-President, I will continue to be a member of the Editorial Committee and contribute an article whenever time permits.

What are some ways that OSMT helps other MLA/Ts?

The OSMT helps MLA/Ts by administering the certification exam required by many employers, provide leadership opportunities by participating in various committees, keeping its members current and informed about the profession, and providing value added benefits.

What can others do who want to get involved?

Those interested in getting involved can either contact myself or the OSMT office and express their wish to volunteer. Members can serve on various committees such as the conference committee that will be organized soon for next year’s conference.

Changing the Way We Measure Pathologist Workload

September 19, 2014
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abacusPersonalized Medicine has been changing the way pathologists work. The volume of work, along with the type of work, has been changing in ways that would have been unimaginable before the incredible growth of complex informational parameters obtained from morphologic, proteomic and genomic analyses . This means that the way pathologists have been measuring and tracking their time and workload has needed to change in order to accurately capture the new ways that they have been working.

Dr. Carol Cheung, pathologist in LMP, has developed a new model, published in Modern Pathology, to capture pathologist workload that leaves behind previous methods based on counting specimens and samples, and rather looks at the whole picture and measures all the different activities of today’s pathologists.

“In the past the workload of a pathologist was manually assigned different values based on the type of specimen” said Dr. Cheung. “However, in today’s world, the same specimen types may require differing amounts of work.  Our new method captures individual components of our work regardless of specimen or tissue type. ”

The new model, called Automatable Activity-Based Approach to Complexity Unity Scoring (AABACUS) captures pathologists’ clinical activities accessed from Laboratory Information Systems (LIS), including specimen acquisition, handling, analysis, and reporting.

“All data used by AABACUS are captured and stored in a departmental LIS as part of usual clinical workflow,” explained Dr. Cheung. “Once those data are exported into AABACUS, they can be translated into clinical workload activities. It’s a robust, novel system that provides a much better picture of workload for modern pathology practice. AABACUS is adaptable to all lab environments and allows for better planning and utilization of the pathology team.”

“There has always been a clear need to define pathologist workload and to effectively measure it,” adds Dr. Sylvia Asa, Medical Director, LMP. “The AABACUS model is useful for laboratory management because it’s objective, automated and applicable across every laboratory discipline. The information it provides is illuminating in terms of the different activities in a pathologist’s day, but also helps us make decision in terms of resource allocation, pressure points within the system and where to spend time and energy growing and adapting our department in order to better serve our patients.”

The paper, entitled “Modeling Complexity in Pathologist Workload Measurement: the Automatable Activities-Based Approach to Complexity Unit Scoring (AABACUS),” can be accessed as an Advanced Online Publication (September 12) on the Modern Pathology website.

LMP and Alzheimer’s Disease Research

September 12, 2014
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alzheimer_brainRecently the Government of Canada announced a new national effort to study age-related neurodegenerative diseases in a Canadian context, which includes LMP’s Dr. Lili-Naz Hazrati, along with several other UHN researchers.

Overall, the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) involves more than 300 clinicians and researchers from across Canada. The teams will look at the current research on neurodegeneration and look at new and novel ways around the prevention, impact and progression of these diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, fronto-temporal dementia, and Lewy-body dementia.

We spoke with Dr. Lili-Naz Hazrati, a neuropathologist in LMP and one of UHN’s researchers involved in the project about her thoughts on the project and what this might mean for Canadians struggling with neurological disease:

“Alzheimer’s is a complex disease affecting a large portion of the population and with no known effective treatment,” said Dr. Hazrati. “And this initiative will place us upon a network of national and international researchers.”

In speaking about why UHN and LMP is involved, she explained that “we are one of the nationally recognized centers involved in research on Alzheimer’s disease. Our involvement is two-fold: direct basic research on Alzheimer’s Disease and brain banking of these cases.”

Dr. Hazrati tells us that most funding agencies do not support tissue banking which has limited the collection of brains with and without disease – which can limit how much you are able to investigate Alzheimer’s Disease. The collaborative project is designed to allow more coordinated research effort to understand faster the pathophysiology of this devastating disease and hasten the way to prevention or treatment.

“This initiative is hopefully just a start and if the interest in neurodegenerative disease is maintained at the government level, it has the potential to have a huge impact on the Canadian public,” she added. “Most neurodegenerative diseases are chronic incurable diseases that not only affect the patients, but are very difficult on the care givers and the health system with huge economic impact at all levels. The potential benefits of this project are enormous and I couldn’t be more excited to be involved!”

Lab Lifesavers Raise More than $22,000 for the Princess Margaret

September 10, 2014
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photo (4)

Dianne Chadwick, Maria Amenta, Yvonne Bedford, Cherry Have, Michele Henry, Dr. Sylvia Asa, Brad Davis and Tom Clancy

It was the third year that members of the Laboratory Medicine Program took part in the Weekend to End Women’s Cancer and the team proudly pulled in an incredible fundraising total of $22,341.55.

Every penny goes directly to the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in support of women’s cancers research, clinical enhancements and survivorship programs.

20140906_111357Thanks to the generous support of everyone in LMP who bought and played in this summer’s 50/50 draws and those who came out for our two Buffet Staff lunches, every member of the team exceeded their goal and the entire Weekend, overall, raised $7.7 million for our cancer centre.

Yvonne Bedford, has participated in the Weekend for the past three years. Initially she joined because Dr. Asa, LMP’s Medical Director, was taking an active role in promoting the walk and she wanted to support her efforts.

“This year, going through my own journey as a cancer patient, I knew that I had to do it,” she says.

“I wanted to prove I had the energy to complete it. In year’s past, I would walk one day and run the second. (Even though you’re not supposed to run!) I didn’t want to run this year,” she added. “But I walked on Saturday with my sister and my friend as support. It was very overwhelming and was great feeling being able to finish.”

DR G small group

Dr. David McCready, Lead, Breast Cancer Site Group, Dr. Danny Ghazarian, Lead, Melanoma and Skin Site Group and Dr. Fei Fei Liu, Head, Radiation Oncology and Chief, Radiation Medicine Program

“I was also surprised by my fundraising total – $5,283.55 – which is incredible to see the support from my friends and colleagues. Of course, it’s not about the actual amount. I’d have been happy just to raise the minimum. But, knowing everybody wanted to help makes me feel truly grateful.”

Cherry Have, MLT from cytogenetics, who participated in the walked as a member of the Lab Lifesavers team talked to us about her experience as a walker:

“I was fortunate to meet and walk with another walker, Kelly, who has been participating for 8 years! She shared her very moving story of why she is walking. Her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer 8 years ago,” Cherry tells us. “Kelly felt helpless and decided to join the walk as it made her feel like she had some control and could make an impact in her mom’s care.  She was empowered to learn she was making a difference!”

Working at UHN, we get to see, first-hand, some of the impacts our investment in cancer care and cancer research. The Princess Margaret Foundation provides literature to all the walkers about the work they have accomplished through the Weekend to End Women’s fundraising efforts, such as a research study that investigates conditions to minimize the side effects of radiation treatment on the heart.

20140906_131052

Cherry, 101 and a half year old walker Kitty Cohen and Kelly

In this particular study, the investigators clinically proved that the simple holding of one’s breath during radiation treatment to the left chest minimized damage to the heart.  During the walk, Cherry talked to Kelley and learned that her mom directly benefited from this research in her treatment at Juravinski Cancer Centre.  She witnessed first-hand how research at PMCC was benefiting patients everywhere.

Maria Amenta, a manager in LMP, when asked about her experience, said “I don’t know if it was the small group of young adults wearing t-shirts that read “I’m walking for my mom” or the courage of friend with cancer who walked along side us but one thing is for sure, it was a very humbling experience and I was proud to be part of it.”

She added, “I have to say, walking through the different communities was a blast.  Diversity truly is a wonderful thing!”

Cherry, in summarizing the event and the experience, said that “even if we don’t find a cure in our lifetime, we will certainly be improving the care of our cancer patients.”

LMP and Student Education

September 5, 2014
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2014-09-02 15.19.08-2

From L-R: Michele Henry, Senior Director, LMP, Abby Tan, Christa Axworthy, Rumman Khondker, Sarah Andrews, Patrick Olal, Kathleen Buck, Chris Cursio, Manager.

Education is at the core of our mission statement in the Laboratory Medicine Program. As an academic laboratory we not only have an obligation to teach the future laboratory medicine experts, but it is also something we enjoy and take pride in. We always have rotating medical fellows and residents working in our labs from across the country, but we also invest in teaching the next wave of medical laboratory technologists and assistants (MLTs/MLAs) who will be working on the bench and working for our patients from inside our laboratory. Read more…

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