Quality Assurance (QA) is the single most important function in any diagnostic laboratory because it ensures that the results churned out from the instrument are accurate, but it can be one of the most challenging aspects to maintain. Now when this is applied to point-of-care (POC) testing where the testing personnel are not laboratorians and the minimum requirement to perform a POC test is a high school diploma, it’s a whole new ball game. This is where the POC Coordinator comes in. They are the ones that are given the daunting task of educating, training, record keeping / document organization, problem solving and investigating issues that arise with this complex mix of workers from diverse backgrounds. Since a high school diploma is the minimum educational prerequisite for performing a POC test, users comprise: physicians, perfusionists, respiratory care practitioners, paramedics, nurses, medical assistants, university students, members of the public and armed forces. Almost everyone is included. What this essentially means is that the POC coordinator has to have excellent communication skills, in addition to sound knowledge of regulations, good laboratory skills, computer literacy – and willingness to be a life-long learner. It is often said that “quality assurance is a journey not a destination.” QA is the bulk of what POC Coordinators do and mind-set open to new ideas of assuring quality at each stage of the testing process is essential.
Like most jobs in life your attitude to the work is what counts. Money aside, POC Coordinators can be one of the most sought after jobs for the right person. You are often left to organize your time and prioritize your work, learn about the different diagnostic devices they will use, covering the disciplines of chemistry, hematology, and infectious diseases. This often also means that you will be teaching and training new users. Knowledge of using Microsoft office software such a Word, Excel and PowerPoint is a given. Your travels throughout the hospital or health system will allow you to meet all types of employees including senior administrators. No two days will be alike – guaranteed. In my view, with improvements in technology and bedside testing, there will be a greater demand for POC Coordinators, or people with these skill-sets. So why is being a POC Coordinator a blessing in disguise? Because it hones those important skills that help you be marketable in almost any field!