In the third part of a series on the importance of promoting our profession and the field of lab medicine, I’d like to present to you a recent interview on this subject with Dr. David Kinniburgh. Dr. Kinniburgh is outgoing president of the Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists; he is also Director of the Alberta Center for Toxicology at the University of Calgary.

  1. Clinical biochemists are integral to the delivery of modern health care. Despite this, however, our profession is relatively unrecognized outside of the laboratory community. Why do you think this is so?
    There are a number of reasons for this. First, we are a relatively small group of professionals and not particularly visible.  We have not actively promoted ourselves and the value of the work that we do.  We have not spent enough time outside of the laboratory, working with the healthcare colleagues that use the information we provide.  We don’t have patient contact and thus, for the most part, the general public does not know we even exist. Unfortunately, laboratory testing is considered by many to be a commodity and thus it is undervalued.
  2. What are the main disadvantages of being an unrecognized profession?
    One of the most significant disadvantages is that we are overlooked and not consulted on decisions that have a great impact on our profession; decisions that we could make a valuable contribution too. Also, for individuals it can be frustrating to not be valued for the work one does.
  3. You have spent a lot of time promoting clinical biochemistry outside of the lab. Can you briefly describe some of your work and its outcome so far?
    Over the years, I have had the opportunity to participate on many committees with other health care providers. I believe that this participation has been an opportunity to demonstrate to other healthcare professionals that clinical biochemists can make a valuable contribution; thus gaining credibility for our profession.
  4. What is your long-term goal and what still needs to be done to achieve it?
    One of my major long-term goals has been to see clinical biochemists regulated under the Health Professions Act in Alberta and become members of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. I believe that if we can achieve this in Alberta that other provinces will follow.
  5. Can you name some other key individuals and/or organizations that are also working towards increasing recognition of our profession (both at a national and international level)?
    Professional recognition is a major focus of the CSCC EPOCC committee. Other groups with an active interest in this area are the AACC and the IFCC. Dr. Graham Beastall, the outgoing President of the IFCC, delivered an excellent keynote address on the Value of Laboratory Medicine at the Charlottetown CSCC Conference this past year.