Volume 37 Number 1 | February 2023
Angela Darby, MPH, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS Director
Organized in 1933 and incorporated in 1935, the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) has become the premier organization for laboratory professionals. One of the defining characteristics of ASCLS is its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which is evidenced in the Society being known as the “Society for Laboratory Professionals BY Laboratory Professionals.”
At the 2022 ASCLS House of Delegates, a bylaws change was made that removed “Region” from the role of director on the Board of Directors, and the eligibility requirements for directors were modified. After the bylaws change, the requirement to run for director is now having been a Professional or Emeritus Member for five consecutive years immediately prior to their election. With the bylaws change, the Board of Directors will become more diverse, since election to the director position will not be limited to residence in the region as previously required. The number of members of the Nominations Committee has also been increased, to include a much more diverse makeup of the professionals charged with bringing candidates for the various positions in the Society to the delegates for voting.
The ASCLS Diversity Advocacy Council (DAC) also plays a role in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Society. As one of the most important councils in ASCLS, the work done by this group of individuals is critical for the Society. Composed of a chair, vice chair, past chair, secretary, and councilors, the council leadership has individuals who are diverse in their race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, gender, age, and laboratory professional status. DAC has been heavily involved in creating the PRISM: Pride · Respect · Inclusion · Support · Momentum event, which occurs in January each year. This event includes book discussions and webinars that pertain to DEI both within ASCLS and outside of the Society, along with a silent auction to raise money for the Glenda Price Diversity in Leadership Award.
“By reflecting on our biases, we can begin to move forward in creating an inclusive environment for all.”
Throughout the healthcare industry, many hospitals and associations are beginning to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion as it relates to patient care and health outcomes.
- The Joint Commission released a document titled, “The Joint Commission Stands for Racial Justice and Equity,” which details its position on DEI for the organizations they accredit. It is widely acknowledged that disparities in healthcare exist, and these are most often based on race, therefore increased awareness and change must occur. In 2011 a standard was released that required non-discrimination in patient care and collection of race and ethnicity data to monitor disparities.
- The National Minority Quality Forum has developed the Cancer Stage Shifting Initiative to use molecular diagnostic testing to detect and stage cancers earlier. This is particularly important to racial and ethnic minorities, who may have a larger burden of cancer diagnosis and less access to care. One of the major components is to establish reimbursement fees for these molecular tests.
I am currently working as a medical laboratory scientist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Diversity, equity, and inclusion have always been an integral part of the St. Jude mission. Since its inception as the first desegregated children’s hospital in the South, St. Jude has treated children from all over the world, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or a family’s ability to pay. Along with this commitment to children, St. Jude is also committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in its culture and workforce, leading to equal access to opportunities for all of the over 5,300 employees from more than 100 countries.
In addition to St. Jude’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Office, various employee and ally resource groups have been created, including the Military Support Research Group, PRIDE (People Respecting Individuality, Diversity and Equality) Employees and Allies Resource Group, Black Employees and Allies Resource Group, and the Women and Allies Employee Resource Group. Since establishing the D&I Office in 2019, St. Jude has made strides in many areas. The Bias Awareness and Action Series was created for managers to address both individual and structural bias; a Women in STEM Task Force was created to advance gender equity; and events to celebrate culturally relevant observances such as Black History Month and Women’s History Month were held.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical to the success of laboratory associations, healthcare facilities, and ASCLS. By reflecting on our biases, we can begin to move forward in creating an inclusive environment for all. From a more diverse and inclusive ASCLS Board of Directors to our various workplaces, we will be able to advance the diversity and inclusion that is so necessary.
Angela Darby is a Medical Laboratory Scientist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.