Roslyn McQueen, PhD, CCRC, ASCLS President

I am excited to begin the 2018-19 ASCLS year under the theme, “ASCEND – Exemplifying Sustainable Excellence in Laboratory Medicine.” The organization will answer the call to action, addressing the critical issues that impact our members and constituent societies. ASCEND represents this call to action for an organization experiencing change and transformation. Webster defines “ascend” as to climb, soar, go up, to rise to a higher point. Therefore, my goal is that our organization will continue to ascend to higher heights as a prominent healthcare professional organization. To define this concept, each letter in ASCEND will represent six key target areas.

The concept of “sustainable excellence” was inspired by the book Sustainable Excellence, by Aron Cramer and Zachary Karabell. This book discloses stories of companies that have been transformed by responding to various paradigm shifts and reshaping the future of business. ASCLS is experiencing our own paradigm shift and, therefore, is embarking on this period of transformation. To maintain sustainable excellence in our profession, we must embrace solutions to the biggest challenges of the 21st century for the prosperity of the organization.

I enthusiastically describe six targets that are designed to advance the mission of ASCLS with excellence and underscore our commitment to sustainable service.
A = Association Wellness
S = Sustaining the Strategic Map
C = Communication
E = Educational Excellence
N = Networking
D = Diversity and Leadership Development

ASCLS must position itself to be on the forefront of the healthcare arenas in our hospitals, educational institutions, and constituent societies.

A = Association Wellness
“Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of, and making choices toward, a healthy and fulfilling life.” Therefore, the ASCLS Association Wellness process will involve performing organizational health checks to assess its status and making choices toward a healthier, productive society.

At the March 2018 ASCLS Board Planning Meeting, the officers divided into focus groups to address various issues facing the society. Paramount was the dilemma of inactive and struggling societies. Many constituent societies face declining memberships, inactive societies, lack of officers, and recycling of leaders.

To identify the root causes of these ongoing struggles, the board created the Root Cause Task Force and appointed Rick Panning leader. The task force found a notable correlation between weak groups and poor membership retention. Finding a way to strengthen these constituent groups should have a positive impact on membership.

An Association Wellness Plan to address this issue includes establishing a Constituent Society Wellness Task Force. This task force will take the data from the Root Cause Task Force and create a plan of action to support and strengthen these constituent societies. This Constituent Society Wellness Plan will establish an active process to become aware of, and make choices toward, more successful societies.

A preliminary step will be to perform an analysis of all constituent societies and rate their association wellness. We must identify the states experiencing significant problems and then develop an action plan to address and/or correct the problem. Under the leadership of President Deb Rodahl, a spreadsheet was created that identified factors used to classify constituent societies as:

  1. Exceptional
  2. Active – Semi-Active
  3. Struggling
  4. Inactive – Life Support

I presented this spreadsheet to the Leaders Symposium and allowed the constituent leaders to perform assessment of their respective societies. This data will be presented to the Constituent Society Wellness Task Force for analysis.

The majority of those in attendance rated their society Active – Semi-Active, with two Exceptional and two Struggling. Not surprisingly, the Struggling and Inactive societies had no representation at the national meeting, thereby, missing the training and opportunities available to them. We hope to meet these societies where they are and bring the support, leadership development, and mentoring so badly needed.

Constituent Societopenia
I coined the expression, Constituent Societopenia, to reflect on the dilemma facing these societies. Data indicates that many of our societies are suffering from decreased memberships. The Constituent Society Wellness Task Force will be charged with developing, implementing, and evaluating a plan for assessment of our weak, inactive, or struggling societies. Ultimately, we endeavor to formulate conclusions about the status and ultimate disposition of the societies assessed. The solution might be as simple as merging with other societies. The Leadership Development Committee will develop tools and resources to train and strengthen the designated societies.

The Sustainable Excellence of the Annual Meeting
As stated before, circumstances forced ASCLS to dissociate from the AACC Scientific Expo starting in 2019. This information was presented to the Board of Directors about a year ago. The board was faced with making the critical decision for the best interest of the organization.

When the final decision was made, our Executive Vice President (EVP) Jim Flanigan provided an optimistic assessment that we look at this development as an opportunity for positive change. “We will have an opportunity to grow the number of people impacted by the meeting through live attendance, virtual attendance, and asynchronous attendance,” he said.

I look forward to an exciting and challenging year. I believe in ASCLS and that we speak with One Voice, One Vision for the clinical laboratory professional and the profession. Let’s strive for the sustainable excellence of the profession!