Not only is Dr. Brandy Gunsolus the first, and so far only, Doctor of Clinical Laboratory Science to be integrated into a health care team, she is using her unique role to spread information about the benefits of having a DCLS within a medical workplace around the world.
Gunsolus presented at the International Federation of Biomedical Laboratory Scientists World Congress held September 22–27 in Florence, Italy. Her talk, “Innovations to Improve Laboratory Test Utilization,” centered on Augusta University Health’s implementation of a DCLS to improve the utilization and interpretation of medical laboratory testing. Between her knowledge of lab testing and correct result interpretation, Gunsolus has been able to improve patient outcomes while also saving the hospital hundreds of thousands in unnecessary costs.
Following her presentation, Gunsolus was invited to speak in several other countries. One of those countries was Nigeria, the only other country to have a DCLS program, although they do not yet have any practicing DCLS graduates.
Prior to being a DCLS, Gunsolus worked as medical laboratory scientist, where she noticed that she was getting more and more clinical questions from physicians about lab testing.
“Laboratory diagnostics has exploded in the last 20 years,” Gunsolus said. “It is difficult to keep up with, especially for clinicians who also must keep up with the latest in therapeutics and regulations.”
As a medical laboratory scientist, Gunsolus saw the gap between physicians and lab staff. She knew she wanted to be a part of the change.
“My goal is to help make sure the right test is ordered at the right time and interpreted correctly,” Gunsolus said. “This is to reduce diagnostic error and unnecessary testing on patients.”
For Gunsolus there are many challenges with being the first practicing DCLS on a health care team, but the biggest challenge is the fact no one has done what she is doing.
“At first, many didn’t know how to receive me,” Gunsolus said. “However, once they saw the knowledge and how I could contribute, the response has been incredibly positive.”
Gunsolus spends her days communicating with physicians, deciding which test is the best for their patient, optimizing test orders to the minimum cost to the patient and improving laboratory service delivery.
“I’m helping to ensure that sufficient testing is performed to improve quality and reduce costs,” Gunsolus said. “Right now I spend most of my time on physician education, physician feedback on laboratory medicine ordering practices and creating algorithms to improve miss-utilization of laboratory sciences.”