Maddie Josephs, MLS(ASCP)CM, Region I Director

Last year, the ASCLS Board of Directors assembled the Root Cause Task Force to determine the cause of the “lack of leadership—either in experience or volunteers—that leads to vacancies or recycling of individuals.” The charge to the committee did not include an expectation for resolution of this issue. Rather, it was simply to determine the cause.

A survey sent to constituent society leadership revealed results that most would not find surprising. In addition to the recycling of leaders, the survey also revealed an overall lack of activity among members.

Some of our constituent state societies are very healthy, while others are not. Sometimes members get involved to address issues that impact our profession, such as Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) or licensure. While getting involved because of a cause is great, remaining active and volunteering can offer so much more. Learning, camaraderie, and networking provide much gratification for many of us. Still, what is the solution to a lack of leadership and inactivity?

Bi-Modal Membership
The bi-modal age pattern we see in our profession is reflected in our membership. We have many members (professionals) who are in the twilight of their careers (ready to retire). On the other end, we have young professionals who are just starting out. While we have many members whose ages fall in the middle, in exploring some of the root causes to inactivity, a lot of reasons can be attributed to the bi-modal age pattern.

Many of our seasoned members deserve our thanks and admiration for all they have done for our society. But now they are looking forward to days of rest, relaxation, travel, and more. Many are at a point in their lives where they do not want to take on additional responsibilities in ASCLS.

As for our young professionals, this is an exciting time for them as they find their way in the world. They are just beginning their careers, continuing their education, and working, along with developing relationships, perhaps marrying and having children and purchasing homes. They are balancing work with so much more in their young lives. Unfortunately, professional society duties frequently get pushed aside.

I must note that fortunately for ASCLS, there are many recently retired members who have taken on leadership roles in our society as regional directors, committee chairs, mentors, and more. And we have many active and productive young professionals in our society whose contributions are immeasurable. ASCLS is very grateful for all their contributions, but we still have a need for more volunteers in leadership positions.

Nurturing Our Future
The future of ASCLS lies in our members, particularly our younger members. Mentorship and encouragement are integral to our future. Our Leadership Academies have been successful; our Developing Professionals Forum is strong and active; and our Ascending Professionals Forum shows much promise. It is up to more seasoned members to reach out to these young professionals to engage them, yet not overwhelm them.

ASCLS-Central New England recently engaged with an Ascending Professional member for help with developing an app for its Annual Convention, with much success. It was likely a time-consuming task but still a critical part of all the work that goes into planning and executing a large meeting. This young professional now had ownership and pride in a new initiative for the state constituent society. It was a win-win situation.

Last October, Region I and Region II began a regional Leadership Academy. The members of the academy meet once per month via conference call, using a great model for introducing young professionals to the intricacies of ASCLS. Our society members present one topic each month with time for questions following the call. If a Leadership Academy member cannot call into the conference, the sessions are recorded so they can listen at their convenience.

This model has so far introduced new professional members to the history of ASCLS, leadership and goal setting, and team building. This generous investment in time by leaders in our society is providing a wonderful resource that will hopefully develop these new professional members into our future society leaders.

It’s an exciting time for ASCLS, with changes on the horizon. Mentoring, teaching, and engaging new professionals is vital to the future of our society. But all these initiatives take time, and time, or lack of it, seems to be an underlying reason why so many of our members are inactive in ASCLS.

It’s time to break this cycle and work together to ensure the healthy future of our organization. Leaders need to reach out to inactive members to engage them. Maybe they can be assigned to just one task. Lastly, it is important to recognize their contributions.