Stephanie Mihane, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS Region VIII Director

Advocacy is active support of a cause. ASCLS advocacy can be understood as standing up and speaking out for the collective good, voicing concerns of the members, and collaborating with individuals or groups to provide support in maintaining our expertise and healthy patient outcomes. It is up to us, as members of ASCLS, the professional society for laboratory professionals, to identify the causes, issues, or areas of need that matter to us. Then we must discern how, through advocacy, we can raise awareness of the profession, promote our importance, and advance our cause of providing quality and safe patient care.

Take a moment to reflect on your personal and professional interests. What causes, issues, or areas of need really matter to you? What positive outcomes in the profession or community you serve do you want to help advance? For what do you want to advocate? What knowledge and expertise do you need to be effective in your advocacy?

These are questions we, as professionals, should be asking ourselves. We do not all have authority to change others, but we do have influence, the power, and/or the capacity to cause a positive effect on others in indirect or intangible ways.

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”
—Mahatma Gandhi

Influence involves advocacy, and to be effective in advocating for change and better outcomes for individuals, communities, and society at large, we need to be engaged. Influence can be understood as the power to cause change, preferably change that positively affects others or advances an important issue.

Important to advocacy is a strong professional organization like ASCLS, supporting the medical laboratory science profession by helping us keep pace with fast-moving changes in techniques and technology, influencing healthcare policy, advocating for quality care, providing connections with peers, and assuring consistent, relevant expertise through education. ASCLS is critical for generating the energy, flow of ideas, and proactive work needed to maintain a healthy profession that advocates for the needs of its members and patients and the trust of society.

Credible leaders influence others to be the best they can be in whatever they are doing, and we follow the leaders of ASCLS. But they cannot be the only advocates for the profession and Society. It is up to all of us to be advocates and it can be as simple as presenting a positive attitude and always assuming positive intent when interacting with other health professionals.

We, individually and as part of the ASCLS professional family, hold the power, the influence, the expertise, and the passion to be the best advocates for ourselves and other medical laboratory scientists.

We call ASCLS a “grassroots” organization—we lead by and for the “every day, in the trenches, boots on the ground” laboratorian. We must each take the time—and with the mindset of our importance to our laboratory co-workers, members of the healthcare team, and the patients—to represent and advocate for ASCLS and our profession. Those of you reading this are already advocates: you are members of your professional society, you are reading this newsletter, and participating in activities to promote our importance to healthcare. Now we need to engage (active verb) others to speak, act, and represent our interests.

I am a point of care coordinator, going on 12 years. This position has fulfilled my calling as an advocate. Every hour of every day, I am a medical laboratory scientist, projecting a positive image of the profession, understanding my unique expertise and the importance of imparting this knowledge to other healthcare professionals, assuring safe, quality patient care. I strive to represent the laboratory as a compassionate, yet compliance-oriented, partner with nursing and providers, supplying resources and expertise necessary for them to perform their care effectively and efficiently.

“Walk the walk.” “Be the face of the profession.” Venture out of the laboratory, your constituent society, and region and advocate for the importance of the profession and our Society. Be the change you want to see—you have the power—now take the time!

Stephanie Mihane is point of care coordinator at Kaiser Permanente in Aurora, Colorado.