Volume 36 Number 5 | October 2022

Cheyenne Reyes, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS Ascending Professionals Forum Director

Cheyenne ReyesThere are a lot of differing opinions on contract employees, or travelers, in the field of laboratory science. No matter what your view may be on whether travelers serve a beneficial or harmful role in the profession, we cannot ignore that this subgroup is a substantial part of our community. I would like to offer a perspective that many have not considered.

I have found myself in the unique position of being a traveler who is also very involved in ASCLS. There are only a couple of us, but I believe we have an impact in an unconventional fashion. As travelers, we go to numerous laboratories across the country, often moving every three to six months. This gives us the opportunity to meet and introduce ourselves to new laboratory professionals more than once a year.

Meeting new people means introducing them to ASCLS and the fight for recognition of our profession. Unsurprisingly, this is an issue that all laboratory professionals are aware of and most of the time, are just looking for a way to do something about it. This is the chance that we have to guide them to the organization and the work that we do in this regard.

“I also believe being unafraid of speaking up for our organization in a room full of people who may not know much about ASCLS is its own form of advocacy.”

Often, young laboratorians do not know ASCLS, or if they do, are unaware of the work that is put forth to advocate for the “bench tech.” We get the chance to teach and empower a new set of laboratory professionals every time we go to a new laboratory. We get the chance to teach them about ASCLS. We get the chance to show them the annual Laboratory Legislative Symposium, and if we are lucky, have them attend with us. We get the chance to show them the community of laboratory professionals that fight for us every step of the way, and we get the chance to guide them to be a part of that community if they so wish. Think of us as your ASCLS envoys.

In my experience, there are a lot more individuals who have passion for our profession than we think. They just need some guidance, which is what the ASCLS community excels in. It is easy to learn what individual laboratorians are passionate about when you are chatting with them at work. From there, connect them to the organization in a way that they already feel strongly about.

In the spirit of the Laboratory Legislative Symposium, I usually like to bring up current issues in one or two daily huddles before and after the event. Usually, this brings about a person or two who is interested in what our profession is facing on Capitol Hill. We can demonstrate to them how important it is to know what is going on in their state legislature and connect them with other people in their state that are already doing that research. Creating this opportunity for them to express their interest gives you the ability to talk to those individuals about ASCLS on a personal level. From this personal level, it is pertinent to connect them to their constituent society, while continuing to be a resource for them, providing a sense of community.

Teaching and empowering your fellow laboratory professionals is a form of professional advocacy we don’t always recognize as such. We often think of it as recruitment and membership. While I agree with that sentiment, I also believe being unafraid of speaking up for our organization in a room full of people who may not know much about ASCLS is its own form of advocacy. Through speaking out, we are strengthening the ASCLS community, and thus strengthening our profession by leading laboratory professionals to the voice that is speaking up for them at the table.

While any one of us can advocate for our Society in this way, travelers hold the noteworthy role of being able to do this across the country in short spans of time, reaching different people across numerous states. Not only do we have the privilege of helping short-staffed laboratories, but we also have the opportunity to teach and empower others to self-advocate.

Cheyenne Reyes is a Travel Medical Laboratory Scientist for Fusion Medical Staffing.