Juan-Sebastian Saldivar, M.D., director of molecular diagnostics, testified before the California State Senate Business and Professions Committee in Sacramento on June 28. His testimony supported Assembly Bill (AB) 549, authored by Assemblymember Warren T. Furutani, which aims to reform and speed up the state’s process for licensing clinical lab personnel.
|Juan-Sebastian Saldivar recently testified in support of a bill aimed at improving clinical lab hiring. (Photo by Darrin S. Joy)|
Saldivar spoke with Hope News about the bill and his reasons for supporting it.
Hope News: What is AB 549, and why are you taking an active role in this legislation?
Juan-Sebastian Saldivar: This is a process that began about two years ago. Larry Weiss, M.D., chair of the Department of Pathology, David Senitzer, Ph.D., director of the Histocompatibility Laboratory, I and others in the clinical labs met with City of Hope’s Department of Government and Community Relations. We discussed how the state’s licensing process for clinical lab personnel impeded our ability to recruiting highly qualified lab directors. We were seeing that we often lost recruits to labs in other states with simpler licensing processes.
It took me almost three years to get a license from the state, and that kind of timeline makes it very hard to recruit people who can start working in labs in other states on day one of their employment. AB 549 creates an application process that is much more efficient and offers more options to applicants seeking employment in California.
HN: So what was your role in supporting the bill?
J-SS: Those of us in the clinical labs laid out the problems the state was having with licensing. Our government relations team first looked into changing state regulations, and when they found that wasn’t an option, they asked Assemblymember Furutani for legislative help. Then we all worked together to build partnerships with people working in labs throughout the state to find solutions and put them into a bill.
HN: Have you ever worked to create and pass a bill before?
J-SS: I’ve never been involved to this extent in the legislative process. It was much more hectic than I imagined it would be. Watching how we get from point A to point B has been intriguing and a learning experience.
HN: What did you learn from the experience?
J-SS: The most important lesson I learned was how to take something that can seem abstract, connect it to something real and concrete, and help people understand why it’s important. The bill passed the committee, and if the bill gets to the governor’s desk, I’ll be very satisfied.