Yaolin Zhou, MD
Associate Professor of Pathology at the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine and ECU Health in Greenville, NC
I am a triple-boarded molecular genetic pathologist with a degree in public policy. I am the only molecular pathologist in eastern NC. To optimize molecular test utilization and actionability, I have developed a molecular pathology consultation service, reviewing specimens and test orders on the front end (pre-analytic), and clinical actionability on the back end (post-analytic).
BA in Public Policy: Duke University
MD: Mayo Clinic
AP/CP: University of Alabama at Birmingham
MGP: Cleveland Clinic
My decision to study public policy was deliberate as I believe that to positively influence patient care, we must understand the larger context under which medicine is practiced and healthcare is delivered. I chose to specialize in laboratory medicine because of its potential to impact not just individual patients, but entire patient populations. Molecular diagnostics has been increasingly relevant over the past several decades due to its impact on the patient’s diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. The next frontier is developing collaborative solutions so all patients can benefit from new technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI).
I am the only molecular pathologist in eastern NC. The region we serve has all the challenges of molecular testing access: rurality, racial/ethnic minority groups, low health literacy, high levels of chronic disease, and socioeconomic barriers.
The mission of ECU Health is to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina, a rural and underserved region. Currently, we have no molecular testing available in-house, and we rely upon outside reference laboratories for all our molecular testing, including genomic testing, which is often recommended for patients with advanced and metastatic cancers. This scenario is very common for oncology practices outside of academic medical centers and NCCN-designated cancer centers.
In 2017, when I was a new assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the chair of the OU Physicians practice quality improvement committee, I was frustrated that quality improvement (QI) is often made so difficult, that even members of our committee did not feel comfortable doing QI and teaching it to others. One night, as I was driving home, I came up with the EPIDEM model of quality improvement. The acronym represents my vision for an EPIDEMic of healthcare professionals working together to improve patient care and the steps of QI: Exploration, Promotion, Implementation, Documentation, Evaluation, and Modification. I first published about using EPIDEM to reduce BCR::ABL1 related ordering errors, and then a “how to guide.” Table 3 of the guide is using the EPIDEM model to catch a gopher in my back yard. Other authors around the world have successfully applied EPIDEM model, including a family planning teen clinic at Emory, and the EPIDEM model is part of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) continuous quality improvement tools.
The best part of my job is collaborating with like-minded individuals with different expertise and working together to address these challenges in molecular testing access. Our solutions may eventually help patient populations around the country and world.
I have been a member of AMP longer than I have been a molecular pathologist. Even as a resident at the 2014 Annual Meeting, AMP felt warm and inclusive.
AMP is very influential in the pathology and medical community. I believe we, as molecular professionals, must advocate and collaborate with other professional societies, patient organizations, local and federal government, agencies, industry, and payors, to develop resources, solutions, and policies that will enable the equitable distribution of molecular resources.
I am confident that AMP is the leading organization to influence “policy and regulation on the national and international levels, ultimately serving to advance innovation in the field and protect patient access to high quality, appropriate testing.”
During my fellowship year, I applied for and was accepted into Membership Affairs Committee (MAC).
When I was a fellow, I joined the Membership Affairs Committee (MAC), where my ideas and input as a trainee were welcomed! Seven years and four committee chairs later, I was mandatorily “kicked off” MAC for serving so long. In 2022, I was elected chair of MAC. My main role has been to help facilitate the exchange of novel ideas, implement those that will enhance the professional development of our global community, and promote AMP diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) values through member recruitment and retention.
The first step is to join AMP! AMP has opportunities for trainees, technologists, pathologists, and scientists, regardless of whether they are in the academic or private practice, government, or industry. It is easy to join AMP as a member. We offer memberships to regular members, technologists, early careers, and trainees. There are discounted membership fees for individual residing in low to upper-middle income countries, and trainee membership is free. Once you join AMP, you can receive email notifications, which are customizable. Then volunteer and be involved. If you wish to join a committee, all you must do is apply, but you will have a greater chance of being accepted into a committee if you show some involvement with AMP (e.g., presenting a poster or early bird session case study at the AMP annual meeting). The CHAMP listserv is the best source for updates from AMP. You can subscribe for a daily digest, to minimize multiple emails. My best advice for applying to volunteer for AMP is to show some thoughtfulness and enthusiasm in your application. Then once you are accepted, please participate! Your involvement as a volunteer is key to the success of our organization.