Leslie Nakagawa, MLS(ASCP), ASCLS-WA President

Coastal beaches, mountain views, and wine country all contribute to the natural beauty of Washington State. Each of the seasons brings out a different type of scenery throughout the state as well. For an ASCLS-WA member, spring and fall are favorite times to build connections within the profession—whether you are a student, developing, ascending, established, or retired professional.

Students in Washington State CLS education programs present research, case study, and assay validation posters at the ASCLS-WA Spring Seminar.

Washington State encourages members to build face-to-face connections through local seminars. Each year, Washington hosts a Spring Seminar, which alternates among locations throughout the state—this is important when your state is separated by vast mountain ranges! Providing a variety of locations encourages engagement throughout the state and provides the opportunity for local speakers and members to participate. Although attendance from some areas is more than others, all areas and members of the state are vital for strong professional connection and representation.

Spring Seminar is also a time to showcase posters submitted by students in Washington State clinical laboratory science education programs. Research, case study, and assay validation posters allow attendees to learn about the most current studies at laboratories across the state. To encourage these students to also attend meetings for networking and educational opportunities, students enrolled in Washington clinical laboratory science education programs may register for one session at no charge, courtesy of ASCLS-WA.

Moving into the fall symposium, attendees can look forward to a more extensive meeting. Along with educational sessions, the highlight of the fall Northwest Medical Laboratory Symposium is the impressive exhibit hall. These exhibit halls are opportunities for industry to display latest technologies and newest versions of instrumentation and supplies. Attendees are encouraged to interact with vendors by providing continuing education (CE) credit for completing a quiz and engaging in conversation with the vendors. Exhibitors benefit from the increased foot traffic and guaranteed interaction, and attendees learn about each vendor and receive CE credit.

Scholarships are available to offset the costs of attending seminars. Unfortunately, there are fewer laboratories that have the ability to provide monetary support to attend the seminars. ASCLS-WA provides memorial scholarships in the names of two distinguished members, Don Kuhn and Joyce Behrens, to encourage attendance. Applications include inquiries about the benefit of attending the seminars to both the profession and the applicant’s current job. After review and evaluation by ASCLS-WA leadership, recipients can receive at least a day of paid registration.

Our most recent recipients of these scholarships, Andrew Nguyen and Ryan Inouye, who are both students of Washington State CLS programs, noted, “The symposium was an amazing opportunity to meet vendors for various lab equipment and provided ample networking opportunities with potential employers. In addition, the continuing education seminars captured both prospective and present medical laboratory scientists in an engaging manner. As future scientists, it is imperative to become involved with our peers and immerse ourselves in our profession. We are grateful for the individuals who offer both time and funding toward supporting the future generation of medical laboratory scientists.”

Mirroring these thoughts, ASCLS-WA is fortunate to have a group of dedicated volunteers and sponsors to maintain these events. Special thank you to the ASCLS-WA leadership, committee members, and seminar volunteers.

Leslie Nakagawa is a medical laboratory scientist at Seattle Children’s Hospital.