Many medical and laypeople are not fully aware of the critical role laboratory professionals play in the detection, diagnosis, treatment, and management of human diseases. Annually, more than 6 billion clinical tests are performed. And approximately 70% of patient care decisions—from whether to admit the patient to the hospital, to how to manage the patient during admission, or when to discharge—are based on in vitro diagnostic test results produced by the clinical laboratory.

This afternoon’s President’s Invited Session, “Waking Up the General Public to the Importance of Laboratory Tests: Using Effective Story Telling,” will provide attendees with strategies to effectively articulate to the public the significant contributions of the profession to patient care.

The impetus for the session’s theme comes from one of Dr. David Koch’s own goals for his term as AACC President: increasing the public’s awareness of who laboratory professionals are and the importance of laboratory testing. “If the public understands with increasing clarity about the important role of clinical laboratory professionals, we have a realistic chance of overcoming the sad fact that we are often ignored by people, by policy makers, and by reimbursement decisions,” Koch said.

Co-presenter Lori Silverman, MS owner of Partners for Progress, a management consulting firm, will engage attendees though storytelling examples, demonstrating how attendees can craft their own stories that articulate their profession’s contributions. Silverman will also challenge attendees to rethink the current strategies they use to communicate with others about the profession.

The presentation will continue with Alan Wu, PhD who for several years has been creatively promoting the profession using story telling as a vehicle. Wu has authored three books that are collections of anonymized true patient events: The Hidden Assassin: When Clinical Lab Tests Go Awry, Toxicology! Because What You Don’t Know Can Kill You, and Microbiology! Because What You Don’t Know Will Kill You. Using examples from his books, he will share the path he has taken to promote the profession.

During the second half of the session, John Crothers, BSc, Chair at Pathology Awareness Australia, will provide an overview on the pathology system in Australia. He will discuss strategies employed by Australia to promote the profession, including the initiative ‘Know Pathology Know Healthcare’, and explain ways in which the Australian initiatives can be translated globally.

Rounding out this innovative session will be Bruce Ribner, MD, of Emory University School of Medicine. In 2014, TIME named him America’s Top Ebola Doctor for the critical role he played in preparing his hospital. He spent more than a decade working to ensure the hospital was capable of caring for patients, consulting with other hospitals, and caring for several Ebola patients in the US. Ribner will give a first-hand account on the collaborative effort his medical team and the clinical laboratory played in the management of Ebola patients. He will emphasize that the successful patients outcomes achieved were in part due to the support provided by the clinical laboratory, compare and contrast the laboratory support that is available to patients in western Africa, and challenge attendees to develop and provide high quality laboratory support globally to areas in need.

“I want attendees to be newly inspired about the vital role we play in the health of society,” Koch said. “And I hope that all of us will be encouraged to tell our stories in improved ways, whenever we have the opportunity.” With a multi-talented panel of speakers, this session is set to do just that.