Lab Matters Fall 2018 - Page 12

FEATURE individual, and the system has to work to reduce the likelihood of mistakes being made,” said Salerno. Thus, new employees are less likely to be handed “the stuff nobody else wants to do,” less likely to be blamed when things go awry and, hopefully, more likely to stick around and immerse themselves in an enriching, laboratory-wide culture of quality. “This issue of turnover is going to become increasingly problematic for the community, and we need to think about how to engage these younger employees in a way that keeps them interested in the PHL,” Salerno said. At this past year’s APHL annual meeting, APHL Executive Director Scott Becker, MS, echoed this thought. He said, “We can’t be afraid to experiment with new approaches” to retain younger scientists. Among the ideas Becker proffered are: • Encouraging Millennials and Generation X to investigate and “champion” new technologies and to help long-time staff transition to the newer platforms. • Inviting outspoken individuals to be “community ambassadors for public health” and to write for the agency’s blog. Matthew D. Bradke, laboratory supervisor, Chemical Terrorism, Arkansas Public Health Laboratory. Photo: AR PHL This issue of turnover is going to become increasingly problematic for the community, and we need to think about how to engage these younger employees in a way that keeps them interested in the PHL.” Ren Salerno, PhD 10 LAB MATTERS Fall 2018 To this end, Salerno advocates a revamped, more inclusive approach to laboratory quality and safety management. He said, “It is less about following a checklist and more about the entirety of the operation, understanding and endorsing the rationale for quality and for safety, and understanding that quality is not just a checklist that accompanies the science, it’s actually fundamental to the science.” Instead of delegating quality and safety—and the sometimes mundane administrative tasks that accompany them—to the “lowest level of the laboratory,” this reimagined approach elevates their importance and puts the onus on laboratory systems. “When mistakes happen—and they will—the system is responsible for that, not the • Showing interest in staff. For example, at BPHL-Tampa, Director Andy Cannons, PhD, periodically spends the day working alongside individual staff members, learning what they do. His younger employees love this. • Being generous with recognition and rewards. The DC Public Health Laboratory, under the direction of Anthony Tran, DrPH, has frequent staff events including a family day, a yearly awards program and an agency-wide summer crab feast at a riverside park. After the simultaneous loss of two chemists, Arkansas’s Bradke helped his agency revive an internal, lateral transfer policy. He successfully hired an internal candidate for one of the positions—a process that took under three weeks— and hired an outside candidate for the other—a process that took three PublicHealthLabs @APHL APHL.org