Message from Dr. Eva Wocjik, the ASC President

It is my greatest honor to serve you and the Society as your President, and I am looking

Eva M. Wojcik, MD, MIAC  Loyola University Medical Center Maywood, Illinois

Eva M. Wojcik, MD, MIAC

forward to working with and for you in the upcoming year. The customary objective of the President’s Message is to describe the future and what is ahead for the Society. Of course, I do not hold a crystal ball in my hands and cannot predict all potential unexpected events; however, I am certain that whatever happens, we will be successful in this coming year simply because we all hold our future in our hands.

As Abraham Lincoln once said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it,” and that is what we’ll do this year – we will create our future! We also have to keep in mind what Theodore Roosevelt did say: “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” Therefore, what we do know:

  • We have a strong Foundation – Cytology is relevant today more then ever. We are the best suited to provide a diagnosis on minimal amount of material that is obtained in a least traumatic way.
  • We have a proven record – When we say “We Save Lives One Cell at a Time,” we mean it. This is not an empty slogan – that is what we do, every single day!
  • Our Membership is strong, dependable and growing.
  • We have a solid structure – our Bylaws are effective and our National Office is composed of people who devote their careers and lives to this Society.
  • We are financially stable due to the prudent stewardship of previous ASC Presidents and the Executive Board.
  • We are flexible and we can adapt – our Strategic Plan is being reviewed constantly and adjusted as needed to address new, unpredicted changes in our health care environment.
  • We are very proud of and committed to the Society – after all, the ASC is OUR Society.

Success Starts with Opportunity

The ASC has been MY Society for a quarter of the century. Exactly 25 years ago, I attended my first ASC Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington, DC. That was one of the proudest moments in my life. Just a few years earlier, I arrived in this country not speaking any English and then at this national meeting, I am a senior pathology resident presenting two posters! From day one, the ASC gave me an opportunity and that continued through all those years. Considering that “success starts with opportunity,” when it was time to work on committee appointments, I have followed these guiding principles: opportunity for everyone, inclusion, transparency, rules, and accountability. From the beginning my goal was to include all members who have volunteered through the Call for Volunteers. In order to achieve this, in most cases no multiple appointments were made and Executive Board members were not appointed to serve on other committees this year; however, Board members will have advisory roles as liaisons between the Board and their assigned committees.

I am very happy to report that whoever volunteered, 100% became a member of a committee! We made 95 new appointments out of 246 committee members (38.6%). Each committee has defined responsibilities, initiatives and charges according to the updated Strategic Plan. In addition, I asked each committee to identify a specific, measurable goal to be completed by the end of one year. Each project has to follow the “3T” rules: what is the final measurable Target, what is the Timeline and what is the Team responsible for individual milestones? I plan to write a Presidential Blog to keep you informed on the progress of our committees’ work.

In addition, each member of a committee will be expected to provide at least one question for the Progressive Evaluation of Competency (PEC) question pool. Of course, those members who have any conflicts of interest would be exempt. Also, each member will serve as an ad hoc reviewer for our journal, Journal of the American Society of Cytopathology (JASC). Therefore, there will be plenty of opportunities for everyone to serve our Society.

Theme – What’s your value?

I am not sure if you know, but once you are the President-Elect, everyone will ask you: What will be the theme for your presidency? For many months, I have been thinking, what will be my theme, what will be my theme? Considering all the changes around us while we are entering into a value based health care, the logical question coming to our minds is – what is our value and, the most important one, how to measure it? Currently, we are living in the “world of dashboarding.” Everything is measured and tracked, therefore, how to dashboard our value? How to translate our values into numbers? Many may see this as a challenge, but for me, I see an opportunity, opportunity for research.

So, I challenge you – provide basis, evidence for our value. Think outside the box; think about downstream effects of your contributions. For example, how your timely diagnosis affected the length of stay (LOS) or patient satisfaction. Use any opportunity to present your data locally, show your colleagues how your work positively influences patients’ outcome. Most importantly, we have to publish these data. We have to remember, published evidence-based data is the basis for any new guidelines, regulations, reimbursement, codes, etc. Therefore, let’s gather in New Orleans at our next Annual Scientific Meeting and share all these data with each other. I will work with the Scientific Program Committee to ensure a venue to exchange our experiences.

But that is not enough……remember, our future is in our hands; therefore, we have to become visible and become advocates for our profession, for ourselves. It is time to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. It is time to get out of our “basements,” from behind our familiar, comfortable microscopes and tell everyone who we are and what our value is. We have to meet patients, most importantly talk to them, tell them that based on our diagnosis they can be treated, they can be healed.

We also have to remember, we are part of the Pathology family and we share visions and goals of our sister societies, and we also face common challenges. The scope of practice changes will affect all of us regardless of specialty or the level of training. What keeps us apart from others is that indeed we are taking the future in our hands and working on defining and discovering new career pathways. We are putting our words into action and we see the first results of our inter-societies collaborations. The best example is the work of the ASC/ASCP Workgroup, “Focusing on Emerging Role of Cytotechnology” and their very successful launch of an Advanced Cytopathology Education (ACE). The next ACE will take place on May 21-22, 2016 at the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago.

New Strategic Plan

We have been very proud to follow our robust and visionary plan initiated in 2012 by our previous President, Dr. Lydia Howell and recently extensively updated under the leadership of Dr. Ritu Nayar and Dr. Michael Henry. However, it is time to take a more critical look and, most importantly, evaluate our current Strategic Plan’s relevance in the context of incoming changes in the health care environment. This could not be more relevant today, particularly in the context of a recently released Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on “Improving Diagnosis in Health Care.” The report was released on the 15th anniversary of the first IOM report, “To Err is Human” that transformed the way we think about the patient safety. The current report concentrates on diagnostic errors, and it proposes aspirational goals of improving the diagnostic process and gives concrete recommendations for major systems and process changes. Our goal will be to keep those recommendations as guiding principles and align our new Strategic Plan accordingly. This work will be lead by Dr. Michael Cohen, Professor and Vice Chair at the University of Utah who was one of 21 members of the IOM committee that created that report. The progress of this work will be presented on this forum.

WATTBAC – What A Time To Be A Cytologist!

In summary, exciting times and projects are ahead of us. We are extremely well positioned with our natural and historical team approach to patient care and, most importantly, with our proactive approach to our future. This is the time of opportunities for our profession and our Society!