The annual Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA) ThinkLab conference is a meeting for “professionals in leadership positions that work in, or support, medical laboratories.” This year’s event features the unveiling of the CLMA’s Body of Knowledge for Medical Laboratory Management (BOK), as well as the informational sessions and continuing education opportunities that have become a staple of the conference. CLP recently sat down with CLMA President C. Anne Pontius, MBA, MT(ASCP), a senior medical practice consultant with State Volunteer Mutual Insurance Co, to discuss her involvement in the creation of this year’s event, the opportunities the conference offers attendees, and this year’s important product and educational introductions.
CLP: Can you give a brief overview of what the CLMA is?
Pontius: Founded in 1976, CLMA is an international association of 2,900 clinical laboratory professionals in leadership positions. The association provides education and networking opportunities in a variety of ways. CLMA advocates on behalf of its members and plays a leadership role in enhancing the image and increasing the visibility of its profession.
CLP: How long have you been a member of CLMA? How long have you held your current position?
Pontius: I joined CLMA in 1990 and became actively involved in the organization in 1995 by participating in the Grassroots CLIA Discussion Group. This led to two consecutive appointments on CLMA’s Program Committee. In 1997, I was appointed to serve on the Health Care Policy Committee (HCPC) and, while serving on the committee, was elected to the Board of Directors. Since being elected to the board, I have served as the board liaison to the HCPC and Medicare Billing Issues Committee. I have served as secretary-treasurer, president-elect, and am in my second and final year as president.
CLP: What role do you have in shaping the ThinkLab conference?
Pontius: As CLMA’s president, I have been privileged to serve on the ThinkLab ’11 committee, chaired by Sarina Rodriques, who has worked tirelessly and done a fantastic job. Together with Diana Mass, chair of the Professional Development Committee, and the other ThinkLab committee members, I believe we have created an extremely strong program that truly has something of interest for all laboratory professionals in leadership positions. CLMA’s ThinkLab ’11, sponsored by Orchard Software, will be held in Baltimore from May 22 to 25. We will begin with two timely preconference sessions on May 22, with the ThinkLab opening general session taking place on the morning of May 23. The conference is scheduled to wrap up at noon on Wednesday, May 25.
CLP: When did the ThinkLab conference begin?
Pontius: CLMA has had annual conferences for over 25 years. The ThinkLab brand name was given to the annual conference several years ago.
CLP: Whom is the conference intended for?
Pontius: ThinkLab is intended for professionals in leadership positions that work in, or support, medical laboratories. CLMA has a Body of Knowledge for Medical Laboratory Management that defines the competencies necessary for successful leaders in our discipline. Whether an individual is just starting in a leadership position, such as a supervisor, or is an experienced leader, such as an administrator, there is something for any individual at any stage of his/her career. Many individuals come to shop and learn about the latest technology for the industry. ThinkLab draws a large number of industry vendors who exhibit their products and services in a setting conducive to conducting business.
CLP: Why is this an important conference for members of the clinical laboratory community?
Pontius: The theme of ThinkLab ’11 is “Reach for Results—For Your Career. For Your Laboratory. For the Patients You Serve.” ThinkLab is the only annual gathering of clinical laboratory professionals in leadership positions from around the world with this three-fold focus on the laboratorian, the facility, and the patient. ThinkLab sessions help enable individuals achieve the education necessary to advance to certification, such as the Diplomate in Laboratory Medicine (DLM) offered by the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP).
CLP: What does the conference offer (such as educational sessions, speakers, exhibit floor)?
Pontius: Our meeting allows laboratorians to network with peers, share ideas, advance their knowledge through educational sessions, and visit 120+ vendors in the Exhibit Hall to see the latest products and services designed especially for the laboratory marketplace. ThinkLab packs a lot into 4 days, and provides attendees with insights they can put to use as soon as they get back to their labs.
CLP: How many continuing education opportunities are available at the conference?
Pontius: ThinkLab features more than 50 sessions and offers 19.5 CE credit opportunities. All sessions are aligned with one or more of the 10 areas in CLMA’s Body of Knowledge for Medical Laboratory Management.
CLP: Can you explain the Education on Demand program that CLMA offers?
Pontius: Education on Demand is a hybrid of the superior programming CLMA presents through audioLabs and ThinkLab, but these prerecorded 60-minute sessions are available via the CLMA Web site 24/7 at a fraction of the price of live-streamed and in-person events.
CLP: In general, how does this conference compare to recent ThinkLab conferences? Are there any differences in terms of offerings?
Pontius: First, CLMA is formally introducing our Body of Knowledge for Medical Laboratory Management at this year’s ThinkLab. The BOK consists of 10 Domains—such as Governance and Organizational Dynamics, Business and Clinical Operations, and so forth—that provide a road map for professional development as a laboratorian. Every one of the 50-plus sessions at this year’s ThinkLab aligns with one or more of CLMA’s 10 BOK domains.
Second, any exhibitor that has launched a new product since ThinkLab ’10 has been invited to participate in CLMA’s New Product Program. A few weeks before ThinkLab, attendees will receive an e-mail from CLMA with a link to the online floor plan and a list of all products that have launched in the past year (limited to one product per company). Attendees will be able to review all of the new products at the new product board at the front of the exhibit hall and spot new product exhibitors on the show floor by signage and icons in their booth.
Chris Gaerig is associate editor for CLP and can be reached at .