Mendoza (center) mentoring Zambian laboratorians / Photo by ASM

Pettigrove (center) assisting Namibian laboratorians on the microscope / Photo by ASM

Baboolal (far right) sorting supplies with Nigerian laboratorians / Photo by ASM
The LabCap Experience: Stories from the Field

"Be ready for an experience you will remember the rest of your life!"

ASM members have an opportunity to serve the global community as a consultant for the ASM International Laboratory Capacity Building Program (LabCap). LabCap is a U.S. government (USG)-funded program designed to assist resource-limited countries with strengthening clinical and public health laboratory systems. LabCap consultants come from varied microbiological backgrounds and carry out technical assistance requests based upon workplans tailored by in-country USG personnel and ASM staff. These technical assistance requests, aimed at accomplishing a country's long-term strategic goals, primarily require training and onsite mentoring of laboratory staff.

LabCap consultant Shirematee Baboolal of Trinidad and Tobago says, "the reward of learning and sharing what you know is a very great feeling." Baboolal has completed a wide range of LabCap support in five different countries: Guyana, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and Tanzania. All LabCap consultants share this universal desire to serve others.

Consultant Mark Pettigrove of the United States also believes his LabCap work is "very fulfilling." "The biggest reward is when your recommendations create a noticeable, immediate improvement in the work setting," he states. Pettigrove has completed one assignment for LabCap in Namibia.

Additionally, consultant Susan Mendoza of the Philippines found the local Zambian community to be very inspiring even in the face of high-burden diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis. Mendoza has completed three long-term assignments within Zambia.

LabCap consultant assignments can range in length from two weeks to four months, and consultants are expected to encounter many challenges while on assignment such as limited electricity or the lack of (or expired) laboratory supplies. These challenges are addressed together with ASM staff and USG personnel to seek solutions. Mendoza emphasizes the importance for consultants to be "well-prepared" and "ready to execute actions" to achieve the assignment's goals.

Skills important for consultants to possess include a special awareness to cultural sensitivity and the ability to share knowledge with peers - even in challenging situations. Baboolal and Pettigrove both admit that patience is perhaps the most important skill required of a consultant.

ASM members can apply for LabCap consultancies via a database on; ASM staff then matches incoming technical assistance requests with applicant backgrounds. All fields of expertise and backgrounds are welcome to apply, and as Pettigrove advises, "be ready for an experience you will remember the rest of your life!"

View the LabCap Stories from the Field Archive