Stephanie Mihane, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS Region VIII Director

Author Stephanie Mihane advocates for the profession by participating in career fairs.

I have decided to take a slightly different approach to advocacy, which is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “public support for an idea, plan, or way of doing something.” I believe being an advocate is an innate characteristic which we all possess. Some choose to act on and develop this characteristic and others do not. To illustrate this point, I will draw on my experiences with advocacy which started way before my association with ASMT or ASCLS.

The first memory I have of practicing advocacy was when I became a member of Camp Fire Girls as a Bluebird in probably third grade. I joined a group of like-minded girls, learning life skills such as compassion, support for a cause (candy sales for camp), camaraderie, and a set of ideals to guide us through life. Church youth groups, Boy Scouts, organized sports, and clubs serve the same purpose.

I moved on to advocating for 4-H, head, heart, hands, and health—another group advocating for teaching life skills, such as sewing, cooking, entrepreneurship, animal husbandry, and leadership. I ran for and became a member of the Linn County 4-H Council when I was in high school, advocating for the organization and its importance to youth.

Next came ASMT (American Society for Medical Technology) as I entered my Medical Technology Program. At that time, I had a certification as a certified lab assistant (CLA), then MLT (medical laboratory technician), realizing my love of the field that lead me to the University of Iowa.

My instructor was an active and avid advocate for medical technology and a member of ASMT. I became the Iowa ASMT Student Forum representative, and upon attending my first Annual Meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, became the National ASMT Student Forum vice chair. I was active and advocating for the field at the state level as publicity chair for our state meeting. Again, my advocacy developed as I learned more technically and in leadership skills.

After getting married and having a daughter, the advocacy skill development continued. Room mom for five years, tutor for ESL children in my daughter’s classes, and chaperone for field trips. Enter my role as a Sunday school teacher for 10 years and youth group sponsor, as well as stage mom for dance classes. Each volunteer opportunity helped me develop the advocacy skills which I use today to support ASCLS.

The last 10 years I have been promoting the profession through my place of work as a participant in Eighth Grade Career Fair events, speaking for the past four years at my daughter’s old high school science club, and speaking and judging at the Colorado State Health Occupations Student Association (HOSA) events for ASCLS-CO.

As an education advocate, I served on the Colorado Association for Clinical Medical Laboratory Education (CACMLE) for 15 years, stepping down the year before the association dissolved.

I advocate not only for the profession, but other health profession members of my union, UFCW Local 7, as a union steward. I represent the face of the laboratory to the physician assistants, pharmacists, nurses, mental health professionals, and the general public.

My last 15 years has afforded me the greatest opportunity for advocacy as a point of care coordinator. This position affords me the most opportunities to advocate and educate by providing resources, training, and support to non-laboratory trained professionals in providing the most accurate, quality care.

Advocacy to me is an innate characteristic which I have been blessed to have, and I have been provided many opportunities to hone my craft, starting from a young age until now and will continue into my retirement next year.

ASCLS has been very important in this journey, from being elected to the National Student Forum vice chair in 1979, to being a member of the first ASCLS Leadership Academy in 2008, serving on and chairing national committees and the ASCLS-CO Board of Directors as president several times, becoming an Alpha Mu Tau Fraternity member in 2013, supporting state and regional annual meetings as vendor liaison, general chair, and social chair, and now as a Region VIII director. I continue to advocate for all our members and for the continued success of our profession and our organization.

Awaken the advocate in you and build those skills; they will make you a better person, professional, and provide you success in your life’s journey!

Stephanie Mihane is Point of Care Coordinator at Kaiser Permanente in Aurora, Colorado.