Financial management is an alien discipline for most public health laboratory scientists. Give them a research paper, and they quickly grasp its implications, but give them a quarterly budget report, and they're adrift in dollar signs.
So where do public health laboratory scientists turn when tasked with budgeting and financial management? General courses do not cover the nuances of operating a public health laboratory, and in-house training opportunities can walk out the door with a predecessor. Somehow lab scientists must learn how to read line items as well as agar plates.
In 2017, the ninth cohort of APHL's Emerging Leader Program (ELP) decided that they had pinch hit long enough. They would develop their own financial training resources for public health laboratory scientists.
This was not the first time that APHL emerging leaders had taken the initiative to address a challenge in their field. Consistent with the goals of the program—which aims to give mid-level public health laboratory professionals the skills to advance into managerial and supervisory positions—earlier cohorts had created resources to promote public health laboratory careers, improve employee retention rates and define competency guidelines for staff working in the field.
Over the course of the year-long ELP program, the emerging leaders worked with other subject matter experts and an instructional design firm to develop two online courses on budgeting and resource management. These are the first and only such resources designed specifically for public health laboratory scientists. Now under content review at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the courses are slated to post to the CDC Train site in the summer of 2018. APHL will follow with intensive marketing of the new resources.
Myra Kunas, assistant division director, Public Health Laboratory, Minnesota Department of Health and a subject matter expert for the project observed, "I wish these courses had been available 10 years ago when I started to take on budgeting for my lab. What a great opportunity for up-and-coming leaders!"
For more information about the courses, contact Kajari Shah, manager, Emerging Leader Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.