Where can early-career laboratorians turn for good networking and mentoring? The AACC’s Society for Young Clinical Laboratorians (SYCL). At this year’s Annual Scientific Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo, look for a dedicated workshop and mixer on Sunday, July 23, to benefit SYCL members.

This year’s meeting will return to the pre-pandemic style of combining a workshop and mixer back-to-back, said Yachana Kataria, PhD, the SYCL subcommittee chair and assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

“The workshop is a great time for all of us to engage and network, and we’re really looking forward to having that back, especially because it’s a Saturday night,” Kataria said. “Once the meeting starts on Sunday, everyone’s running around between workshops and sessions.”

The workshop, “Use What You’ve Got! How to Tap Into and Leverage Data,” will be held from 1-5:30 p.m. at the Marriott Marquis, with a mixer following from 6-8 p.m. “Data generated from medical laboratory results is very valuable, and a resource of information for clinical decision-making,” Kataria said. Laboratories can harness the power of their data to optimize processes that advance the laboratory, or to advocate for resources and support changes aimed to improve healthcare delivery.

“We see a ton of classes and sessions on doing and learning the computer programming language R, and learning how to code,” Kataria said. “We all agree that the importance of data is clear but accessing and using that data can be very complex, especially for laboratorians without a degree in computer science.”

The workshop aims to provide tools for attendees of all backgrounds, she said, “so you don’t need the knowledge of fancy data analytics to develop critical skills needed to connect clinical data and relevant lab results with the goal of guiding decision-making.”

One skillset that will be highlighted is how to effectively advocate for the laboratory using available technologies while having zero programming skills, she added.

“We also hope to educate attendees on the basics of how clinical databases are structured, and how to navigate extracting relevant data to use in clinical and quality improvement projects,” she said. “We have asked all of our speakers to have engaging activities that will enable attendees to learn how to successfully carry out lab information system changes and to provide real-world examples of how to better navigate the world of data to successfully guide their laboratories.”

Back for the first time since 2019, the mixer following the workshop is widely attended both by SYCL members and others, including AACC leaders, she said. Newcomers should feel welcome to come to these events to meet colleagues, or to stop by the SYCL booth to get to know potential other peers, Kataria said. “We’re try to be a platform to provide access to resources or create resources that other SYCL members are looking for.”

SYCL, started by AACC in 2004 to serve the needs of student members and those under 40 years of age, “is a great starting point for the larger AACC membership,” Kataria said. The group has a number of resources including an active presence on the Artery, AACC’s online community; a salary survey; help for fellows preparing for board exams, and more. For more information about how to get your career started, visit www.aacc.org/community/for-early-career-members.

Karen Blum is a freelance medical and science writer who lives in Owings Mills, Maryland. +Email: [email protected]