Thursday, April 3, 2014

Canad's best laboratory Quality Seminar series

Over the years I have organized 22 Quality Seminars for what used to be called the Conjoint Meeting, an annual event in Canada that has brought all the interests of microbiology, infectious diseases, and public health together for the last 80 years or so.  Today it is called the AMMI Canada CACMID conference, named for the two principal host organizations.

The Quality Seminars have changed their name and purpose since their inception in 1992.  At first it was an opportunity for laboratory accreditation bodies and proficiency testing bodies that got together and discuss common interests.  When the accreditation bodies dropped out the proficiency testing groups continued on and we could chat about interesting PT issues.  Over time the focus started to move again more in the direction of standards development, and then finally very much into the areas of individual interest, such as international activities, education, and finally a whole slew of Quality oriented topics, that impacted mainly microbiology laboratories, but eventually the broader topics or error and culture and continual improvement. 
The Quality Seminar has always been seen as separate from the main meeting.  At the beginning it was an event that people could attend on the day after the conference was over, especially if they had a late flight on the next day.  Then it became one of the day-before events so that people would have something to do when they got to town a day early.  Both of these times worked out well because it was not competing with the chaos of the full meeting, and gave us lots of time as opposed to being limited to a slot of 45 to 90 minutes.  While others were being shoehorned in, we always had at least 4 hours to fill, enough for at least 4-5 speakers and discussion and coffee breaks.

The audience was always a select special group.  Even in the arena of laboratory and clinical medicine, the audience for Quality issues has never been huge.  But it was a faithful group and every year, pretty much we could fill a small or intermediate sized room for the whole session. 

Of interest, as the conference expanded, other groups began to see the day-before block as a desirable time slot and we found ourselves competing with other groups during our afternoon block, probably to the disadvantage of both.  The people having the competing time meeting locked up all access to the physicians-in-training (aka Residents), a group of people that prior to this change would benefit from being at the Quality Seminar and being exposed to a topic for which their routine training was (and still is) somewhere between inadequate and absent.  And we would have enjoyed having the Residents with us, because it would have increased the group size and expanded the group discussion.  But it just was not to be.  

So now after 22 years, I think it is time for me to call it quits.  I have kind of run the gambit of topics and I am not sure I see the value to me in continuing on.  That does not mean that Quality Seminar will end, indeed I hope that is not the case; it just means that someone else will need to take on the responsibility to organize it and lead it and keep it afloat and move it towards its next iteration. 

For those interested, the presentations from the meeting will be on-line at under the title AMMI-Canada CACMID 2014. 


  1. Good for you. I know these decisions are difficult. Your time is precious. I am sorry to hear that the residents will no longer hear your approach to quality.


  2. Thanks Zoe
    I will still have access to teaching residents, but not in as comprehensive a way as we could have had through the conference. I will continue to provide a separate on-site series for residents at one university, and we continue to create space for those that want to attend the on-line course.
    And I trust it to others to maintain the AMMI-Canada CACMID Quality Seminar.


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