American Association for Clinical Chemistry
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Setting the Agenda for Learning

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Setting the Agenda for Learning
AACC’s Educational Programs Offer Professional Development
By Nancy Sasavage, PhD

AACC’s Annual Meeting is a must-attend event with numerous opportunities for enhancing your knowledge, networking with colleagues, and seeing all the newest products for clinical labs. But when the meeting is over and summer has finally come to an end, what’s next? This fall season, and into the winter, AACC is offering some exciting programs for your professional development and continuing education needs. We are presenting a wide variety of meetings, audioconferences, and online conferences that will expand your knowledge of the newest innovations and hottest topics in the field of clinical chemistry.

Whatever your role in laboratory medicine, you'll find that our programs keep you in front of the changes that affect everyone involved in developing, performing, analyzing, ordering, and using laboratory tests. Here’s a preview of what we have planned.

AACC Programs in Europe

First up in the fall is a conference co-sponsored by AACC and the Association for Clinical Biochemistry (U.K.) on the latest advances in chronic disease diagnosis and management. Diabetes, thyroid and cardiac diseases are highly prevalent conditions that drive a large percentage of laboratory testing.  This conference will help you understand how best to use your testing resources for these most prominent disease states and also improve patient care. Among the topics are: emerging cardiac risk markers; screening for cardiac disease; cardiac risk in renal disease; and clinical and testing issues in thyroid disease.

An exciting feature of the program will be a debate on the use of HbA1c to diagnose diabetes. “Chronic Disease: Cardiac, Diabetes, and Kidney Disease” will take place at the Royal College of Pathologists in London, September 3–4.

Also in Europe this fall is “Molecular Pathology Essentials: Diagnosis and Targeted Therapy” in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is being presented by four organizations: AACC; ACB; The Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP); and the Danish Society for Clinical Biochemistry (DSKB). This program will focus on the essential knowledge and current practice of clinical molecular pathology, with an emphasis on diagnosis and targeted therapy. Topics to be presented include: prenatal testing; newborn screening; molecular oncology; pharmacogenetics; hemoglobinopathies; genetics of complex diseases; laboratory management; quality assurance; and regulatory issues.

Those who “must attend” this program include laboratory medicine doctors, clinical chemists, clinical pathologists, anatomic pathologists, geneticists, industry professionals, and others who seek a better understanding of molecular testing methods and their clinical applications. The course will be held October 1–2 at the Scandic Copenhagen Hotel.

Personalized Medicine in Oncology

First up in the U. S. this fall will be a conference organized by AACC’s Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Toxicology Division, in cooperation with the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The goal of the meeting, “Personalized Medicine in Oncology and the Management of Chemotherapeutics,” is to review current approaches to personalized medicine in oncology, as well as discuss new and promising developments in this area.  It will be held September 23–24, at the Sheraton Baltimore City Center.

In addition to case-based discussions from experts, participants will hear regulatory and payor perspectives on personalized medicine. Presenters will describe the role of TDM and pharmacogenomics in management of chemotherapy and how to overcome current obstacles in implementing personalized medicine approaches in oncology. Another area that speakers will discuss is the growing need for multidisciplinary support among laboratorians, clinicians, and pharmacists to achieve personalized medicine in oncology. CME and ACCENT® credit are available for participants.

Lab Automation Solutions

Now in its 11th year, our popular lab automation conference will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 29–30. The number of automation products for the clinical laboratory has exploded in the past 5 years. Lab segments that have long been cost centers due to intense manual processes are now being transformed by automation. But this proliferation of new technologies has left many institutions in a quandary. How do you decide which processes to automate? Should you focus on your poor performing sections, or automate the entire lab? Which products are best suited to the applications you want to bring on board? And what about LIS/middleware issues?

Participants in “Laboratory Automation: Finding the Right Fit for your Lab” will learn the answers to all of these questions. Whether you’re looking at the latest automation options for your small- to mid-size hospital lab or building a large commercial lab from the ground up, our conference faculty will help you find the right automation fit for your situation.

This year, the Lab Automation conference features a unique opportunity: tours of the highly automated facility at ARUP Laboratories. These free tours will take place on Wednesday, October 28—the day before the conference begins—and are available only to conference registrants.

For laboratorians in Asian Pacific countries, the third edition of our information-packed conference, “Laboratory Automation: Integrating Quality and Efficiency,” is where you will find all of the information you will need to keep your lab and lab automation projects on the road to success.  The previous conferences, which took place in Singapore, attracted more than 200 people from over 25 different countries. The dates of the conference are October 22–23 in Kuala Lumpur.

Update on Proteomics

Also this fall, AACC is pleased to partner with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Heart, Blood & Lung Institute (NHBLI) to present a conference titled “Translating Novel Biomarkers to Clinical Practice: Role and Opportunities for the Clinical Laboratory.” On November 5–6 in Bethesda, Md., conference participants will hear leading researchers, regulators, lab professionals, and industry representatives discuss how these groups are working to move proteomic technologies into clinical healthcare settings. Plus, you’ll learn about the latest proteomics initiatives from NCI and NHBLI.

The program will feature discussions of clinical proteomics, biomarker discovery, co-development of therapeutic compounds and proteomic assays, regulation of proteomic technologies, and developments in standardization. In addition, a poster session will allow participants to review the latest research in this emerging medical field.

Listen and Learn Opportunities

Not everyone can travel to conferences during these tight economic times, so AACC has a full line up of audioconferences for the fall. In September, we’ll explore the future of vitamin D testing, examining why orders for these tests are going through the roof, why it’s important to be aware of the tests’ analytical challenges, and what laboratorians need to know about how clinicians are using the test results. The speakers for this audioconference are Andre Valcour, PhD, Ravinder Singh, PhD, and Gregory Plotnikoff, MD.

The new generation of bone-turnover markers is more robust than its predecessors, and in October, Michael Kleerekoper, MD, will conduct a 60-minute webinar that examines how these new tests can be used to assess and manage secondary causes of bone loss. This webinar complements an audioconference held earlier this year that examined the role bone-turnover markers are now playing in osteoporosis management. At the end of the month, AACC will host an audioconference that takes a hard look at what healthcare reform is going to mean for clinical laboratories.

In November, an audioconference on using molecular techniques to diagnose hospital-acquired infections will explore how far technology has come in enabling the rapid diagnosis of infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile. Later in the month, AACC’s Professional, Government and Membership Affairs Department will provide its annual Reimbursement Update audioconference to help labs prepare for the changes that await labs in the 2010 payment arena.

Dates for these events were still being finalized as CLN went to press, so please check AACC’s website for current information.

Learn Online for Free

Along with AACC’s face-to-face meetings, audioconferences, and other educational programs, you can take advantage of our Expert Access Live Online. Expert Access is a real-time, Internet-based program that brings leading lab experts right to your desktop. The program is supported in part by an education grant from Siemens Healthcare Solutions Diagnostics, which keeps the program free to interested medical professionals.

Participants can view course materials and submit questions prior to the scheduled 1-hour discussion or during the live portion of the event. So far this year, the Expert Access program has highlighted a wide variety of topics including: infectious disease testing, building an ISO-compliant laboratory, issues in syphilis testing, and defining and reporting critical values. Don’t forget to join our experts in the coming months for more information on other timely topics.

Keep Earning Credit

Most conferences, educational programs, and meetings sponsored by the AACC are available for two types of continuing education credits. The first is ACCENT® credit, which is for laboratory professionals who need to document their continuing education to meet requirements for licensure or certification. ACCENT credit is accepted by the American Association of Bioanalysts, American Society of Microbiology, National Registry in Clinical Chemistry, and the National Certification Agency for Medical Laboratory Personnel, to name a few.

The second type of continuing education credit that AACC offers is Continuing Medical Education (CME). AACC is accredited by the Accreditation Council on Continuing Medical Education to sponsor continuing medical education for physicians. CME credit is offered for selected programs sponsored by AACC.

Along with the continuing education credits received from attending one of our educational programs, AACC also supports credentialing of clinical laboratory practitioners through certification, licensure, and registration. The Professional Certification Boards in Laboratory Medicine and other resources are provided for laboratory professionals interested in professional certification. For a complete listing of all of the organizations and states that accept ACCENT and CME credits and for certification boards, please visit our website.