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Deb Rodahl, MBA, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS Past President

It has been my honor and privilege to serve as ASCLS president for the last year. I am a firm believer in the value that ASCLS brings to the clinical laboratory sciences profession and to the practitioners within this profession. ASCLS has helped shape who I am professionally and personally, for which I will always be grateful.

In my year as president I attempted to focus on the following areas that had been identified as a need in our organization.

Leadership Development: This is a major initiative in ASCLS with many facets. In the last year we have introduced several online training modules to provide our constituent society leaders with readily available resources on ASCLS leadership topics.

This year the Board of Directors received recommendations from the Root Cause Task Force, which has been working to determine the underlying issues impacting our ability to recruit leaders within our constituent societies. While many recommendations have been received and will be acted upon, the theme of simplification resonated with us. How can we make the work of the constituent societies less burdensome so that they can focus on their grassroots activities to engage our members?

The third component of work this year has been to establish a task force to evaluate the national Leadership Academy to determine how it fits in with our overall leadership development needs. I am excited to report that we are on course to have an updated academy program for 2019 and added clarity for the work of the Leadership Development Committee.

Mentorship: Last year we recognized the need to provide mentorship support for new leaders in ASCLS. One step toward this goal was to formalize the Mentorship Task Force by converting it to a full-fledged ASCLS committee. This conversion comes with an intent to expand the scope from providing mentorship for newer professionals in ASCLS to any member who also seeks support for an ASCLS leadership role they either have taken on or would like to take on. This could be at the constituent society level, regional level, or national level.

Just as we mentor new employees in our work environment, we should also provide support for ASCLS members who want to undertake a new role in our organization!

Communication: In July of 2017 our ASCLS members communicated very clearly how much they missed having a regular ASCLS Today newsletter, which has been a staple in our ASCLS communication offerings. We remained somewhat challenged to produce ASCLS Today through the end of 2017; however, with support from the ASCLS Board of Directors, we approved the addition of a director of marketing and communications to our ASCLS staff. This role has established a clear plan for our communication strategy within ASCLS and helped get us back on track with ASCLS Today.

Communication comes in many forms with many goals. Our ASCLS CONNECT Communities and the ASCLS Open Forum are perfect venues for pushing out time-sensitive information as well as uniting our members around common themes, causes, and topics. The traffic on our communities and forum increased significantly this year as people caught on to the value of this interaction. I was able to post timely updates and reminders, which is something I encourage our future leaders to continue to expand upon.

As we continue to evolve our communication and marketing within ASCLS, we are adding a new Marketing and Communications Committee to coordinate this work across our organization.

Professional Involvement: If you were at the House of Delegates last year, you heard me describe a short assessment tool where I scored as an ESTJ, which is also how I score on the Meyers Briggs. What I learned from my assessment, however, really highlights why I am here today. ESTJs are civic-minded workers who strive to improve society and like to be part of organizations. This was the “aha” for me—I am a “joiner” and learned early on that I need to get involved to gain the true value of “membership.”

My personal goal is to try and articulate not just the value of professional involvement but how critical it is for our profession to achieve our own professional visibility. We can’t continue to bemoan the lack of visibility if we aren’t willing to do something about it.

I am heartened by increasing attendance at ASCLS meetings. We had record attendance at the Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference (CLEC) this year and had more than 500 attendees at our Annual Meeting in Chicago. Our members have dialoged about the value of in-person meetings and most notably how “people join people.”

Our nation had many significant events this year that resulted in mass casualty victims being rushed to local hospitals. Behind the scenes are the laboratory professionals who are just as critical members of the teams that save lives. The story from Shannon Billings following the Las Vegas shooting said so much about our profession and the impact we have every day. Thank you, Shannon, for sharing that story with us. Now we all need to help spread that word!

I would also summarize this year as a year of change. We made critical decisions that should continue to propel ASCLS as the preeminent organization that represents our profession:

  • Addition of a director of marketing and communications, which will significantly increase our ability to create a branding strategy.
  • Transition of our Annual Meeting to be independent from the AACC Clinical Lab Expo, which allows us to move to different destinations around the country and offer more reasonable costs for our members. Please join us in Charlotte, North Carolina, June 23-27, for the 2019 Annual Meeting.
  • Transition of the Clinical Laboratory Science journal to a new platform, which allows articles to be indexed on PubMed and move us to a fully-electronic “submission to publication” process.

This year required great attention to items in the government and regulatory arena as grassroots efforts around the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) data collection methodology and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) personnel standards took top priority when they surfaced. We are blessed with the tenacity and legislative prowess of our Government Affairs Committee that remains ever vigilant around what is happening within legislation or regulation that affects the laboratory. Have you ever tried to read the Federal Register? I am so grateful to have this group of volunteers keeping their vigilance. Add to that, the significant number of practitioners who responded to our requests for action to contact their legislators and speak out for our profession. It takes a village!

I have learned much in my year as ASCLS president but most notably how truly dedicated our members (and staff) are to our profession. We have seen our first Doctorate in Clinical Laboratory Science (DCLS) graduate, Brandy Gunsolus, share her experiences and the impact she made every day as a resident. Brandy is a pioneer in our profession. Behind that significant milestone is the work and dedication of several ASCLS members to develop the vision for an advanced practice degree and to create this amazing future. My hat is off to all of you!

As I reflect on my year as president, I think of it as a year of challenge, communication, and change. Volunteers within ASCLS continue to step forward to work on committees, task forces, and other special projects. I am humbled by the true depth and work of our ASCLS members. Family is important to me, and that includes my professional family. It is why I have made this commitment to ASCLS, why I have attended the ASCLS Annual Meeting for more than 20 years, and why I am so grateful to have all of you as part of my professional family.

Thank you for all the truly impactful work you all do for ASCLS and our profession!