February 2009 Mentor of the Month Interview: Barbara Goldsmith
Biography
  1. What is your job title and affiliation?
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background
  3. What are your Board certifications?
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
  5. Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself.
Career
  1. What area(s) do you specialize in?
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
  3. What are your clinical and research interests? 
  4. What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
  5. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
  6. What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
  7. How would you recommend achieving an optimal work/life balance?
  8. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
  9. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
  10. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
  11. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
  12. Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
  13. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
  14. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
Biography
  1. What is your job title and affiliation?
    President, AACC
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background.
    Hobart and William Smith Colleges, BS in 1975, Major in Biology, Minor in Chemistry Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University, Ph.D. in 1982
    Assistant Director, Clinical Chemistry, Children’s Hospital National Medical Center, Washington, DC, 1982-1987
    Director, Clinical Chemistry, POCT, Blood Gas Laboratories, 1987-1999
    Acting Director, Dept. of Laboratory Medicine, 1995-1999, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and Associate Professor MCP Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, PA
    Executive Director, Alliance Laboratory Services, Health Alliance and Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, 1999-2005
    Vice President, Laboratory Services, Caritas Christi Health Care, Boston, MA, 2005-2008 and Medical Director, Caritas Medical Laboratory, 2006-2008
    Director, Laboratory Services, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Boston, MA, 2005-2008
  3. What are your Board certifications?
    N/A
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
    AACC, NACB
  5. Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself:
    • Family
      N/A
    • Favorite activities/hobbies
      Photography, bicycling, going to the movies
    • Favorite places you have traveled
      All international travel
    • Favorite book/movie
      Movie-Crossing Delancey
    • Most fun/adventurous thing you’ve ever done
      Worked on a Kibbutz milking cows for one year, before graduate school.
Career
  1. What area(s) do you specialize in?
    Point of Care Testing, Laboratory Management, Pediatric Clinical Chemistry (previously)
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
    I grew up (literally) in the laboratory. My mother owned a clinical laboratory for about thirty years and my introduction (at age four) included washing test tubes and delivering reports to physician’s offices. My mother, Lottie Goldsmith, has been a laboratory Director and active AACC member since 1950, and recently retired at age 84. I accompanied her to AACC meetings before college. After college, my mother and Dr. Miriam Reiner (first female AACC President) suggested that I apply to a new doctoral program started by Dr. Hanns Dieter Gruemer and Dr. Greg Miller at the Medical College of Virginia. Dr. Gruemer became my doctoral thesis advisor and mentor and has remained a major impact and influence on my career. Following graduate school, I joined Dr. Jocelyn Hicks (former AACC President) and Dr. Roger Boeckx at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center, where my focus in pediatric clinical chemistry began. After five years in Washington, I moved to Philadelphia where I continued my specialty in pediatric clinical chemistry, continued as director of clinical chemistry, and later as director of the clinical laboratories at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, where I remained for thirteen years. It was then off to Cincinnati, where I was recruited by Dr. Wendell O’Neal, another special mentor and colleague, to oversee six hospital laboratories within a healthcare system, and then to Boston, where I had responsibility for a laboratory with a large outreach program and six hospital laboratories within a system.
  3. What are your clinical and research interests?
    Point-of-care testing, general clinical chemistry
  4. What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
    I have had the opportunity to teach residents, medical students, and medical technology students throughout my career. I hope my contributions have been through teaching and mentoring, and through my activities in developing programs and organizing meetings for AACC.
  5. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
    The politics, in certain settings, can become challenging and can be a distraction. In management, you must often make difficult choices due to budget constraints. Though unappealing, these difficult times train us to be creative and resourceful while, hopefully, remaining compassionate.
  6. What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
    The most rewarding moments have been the interactions and knowledge I’ve gained from my colleagues and the opportunity to “give back” through giving lectures and advice. The challenges lie in articulating the value of our profession to those (e.g. hospital administrators) who may not be familiar with what we do.
  7. How would you recommend achieving an optimal work/life balance?
    Having hobbies and interests different from work is essential. Family and friends can provide that balance, if you let them. Exercise is important, and I try (though often unsuccessfully) to fit that in when possible, particularly when traveling.
  8. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
    Providing a service that I know is vital to taking care of patients. Improving the quality of what we do, troubleshooting problems, and answering questions and concerns from physicians are key motivators for me.
  9. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
    Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine will be heavily influenced by the economy and by health reform. Testing by molecular methods and the applications of genomics and proteomics, I believe, will expand. Hospital laboratories perform 64% of all testing, and are dependent upon the development of tests by IVD manufacturers. Health reform (which influences test utilization and reimbursement) and the economy (which provides the stimulus to manufacturers to develop tests) will impact the future of laboratory medicine. I am optimistic that our new Administration will have a renewed and positive impact on medicine in general and laboratory medicine specifically.
  10. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
    Retirements will have a significant impact, and I am concerned that there will not be enough programs or mentors to teach our young scientists. It is imperative that we encourage students to enter laboratory medicine and fill the slots that exist so that additional programs will be created (supply and demand).
  11. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
    Stay informed about developments in your area but do not restrict yourself to one area of interest. Flexibility and the ability to take on additional responsibilities, even if outside of your “comfort zone” are important in a changing healthcare environment.
  12. Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
    Staying involved with the AACC, which begun during graduate school, has allowed me to grow tremendously both professionally and personally. The stimulation I receive from colleagues, friends, and staff from AACC has helped me develop areas of expertise, such as POCT. Through involvement in Divisions, organizing meetings, and participating on Committees I can contribute expertise and bring back what I learn to my workplace.
  13. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
    I had the unique opportunity to attend AACC meetings when I was very young. Later, I became involved as a student member in graduate school, and my involvement grew as I developed in my career. My advice to young people is to attend a local section meeting and volunteer to organize a meeting or as an Officer. Each section needs help and “new blood”, and your willingness to participate at any level will be appreciated by your colleagues and begin active involvement in the Association.
  14. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
    The AACC is a very special professional organization. It provides opportunities through participation and networking, professional and personal growth, numerous educational opportunities, and a support system that encourages and stimulates people in our field. Take advantage of these opportunities. Also, as I stated above, it is important to have mentors and to be a mentor throughout your career. The bonds that form remain for a lifetime. Be proud of the field you’ve chosen as it truly contributes to the health and well being of the communities we serve.
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