Maria Rodriguez, MLS(ASCP)CM

My high school counselor used to quote Pablo Neruda at the end of every academic year: “Nosotros, los de entonces, ya no somos los mismos.” This quote was his eloquent way of making us reflect on how everything is constantly changing.

At the time, I thought this phrase was the cheesiest thing I had ever heard. “We, of that time, are no longer the same.” What does that even mean? It was not until last year I realized how right he was.

The only thing constant in life is change, and our likelihood to succeed depends on our power of adaptability. We evolve to harmonize with our surroundings. Nonetheless, navigating those changes is not always smooth sailing.

Changes are usually subtle. They approach you slowly, so you have time to adjust to them. Nonetheless, some changes strike you like a lightning bolt. From one day to another, you are in a completely different situation.

Graduating from my Medical Laboratory Science program was one of those lightning bolt changes. One day I was a student living in Bozeman, a town located in southwest Montana. Three days later I was a new professional residing in Las Vegas.

For most of us, that’s how it works. One day we are shadowing seasoned MLSs, and the next day we are running departments by ourselves. It’s scary, I know. It even makes you question, “Am I ready for this?”

Soon, all the changes start to overwhelm you, as you are now dealing with a new job, new coworkers, and a new city. It feels like even breathing is not the same anymore. Then, an email pops up in your inbox with the subject line: “It is time to renew your ASCLS membership.” Your membership in the society you have been part of for almost your whole college career is about to expire. You wonder whether it’s worth it to renew your membership. You are going through enough already. Your routine has changed, and you feel maybe it’s time to take a break and focus on your job. Plus, the new membership fee is not in your budget. Does any of this sound familiar?

It’s not a secret that going from a student to a new professional can be hard. Nonetheless, for every reason you have not to renew your membership, I have a thousand reasons why you should.

Two Forums, One Goal
For starters, ASCLS has two forums that help students and new professionals find their place in the profession and the society. The Developing Professionals Forum (for students) and Ascending Professionals Forum (for new professionals) work hand in hand to provide students and new professionals a voice to express their ideas, opinions, and concerns. Both forums also raise funds to support travel grants for students and new professionals to attend the ASCLS Annual Meeting and Legislative Symposium.

The Developing Professionals Forum will be there through your college career. It will give you tips on how to find a job, how to study for the Board of Certification (BOC) exam, and more. Being part of the Developing Professionals Forum is only the beginning of a fantastic journey full of opportunities to grow not only as a laboratory professional, but also as a leader.

The Ascending Professionals Forum will be there to help you get through those stressful changes that come after graduation. Why go through all of that by yourself when you can do it with people who are going through similar situations? No one is going to understand you more than your fellow Ascending Professionals.

Change is a Constant
Remember what I said before? “We, of that time, are no longer the same.” Well, laboratory professionals, of that time, are no longer the same either. Part of the beauty of our profession is that it is always moving forward.

New diseases are being discovered, technologies are being developed, and standards and requirements are being revised and updated. The political climate is also constantly changing and shaping the profession. It is hard to keep up with so much innovation at once. Thankfully, ASCLS can help.

Attendance at the Annual Meeting is highly encouraged, but it’s not the only way to stay up to date with the Society and the profession. Publications, such as ASCLS Today, Clinical Laboratory Science, and the Developing Professionals Forum and the Ascending Professionals Forum newsletters will keep you informed with timely updates on Society activities, professional topics, and political issues.

On top of that, our new online member communities allow you to connect with hundreds of professionals with one click. Do you need help solving a complicated case? Write a question in the ASCLS Open Forum and you will get multiple responses from your colleagues all over the nation within a day.

Give Back to Your Profession
It is always a good time to advocate for your profession. We are the hospital’s best-kept secret. Thus, we united our voices to educate the public on what we do and the importance of lab professionals in the medical field.

Right now, it may seem like you don’t have time to dedicate to the Society. That is okay. You don’t have to withdraw from all the other benefits your membership offers. It’s always a good time to network with other members. It’s always a good time to keep yourself up to date with new trends and technologies linked to our profession. You can volunteer when the time is right for you.

The next time you wonder whether it’s worth renewing your ASCLS membership, I hope your answer is, “YES!” You will gain access to outstanding resources that will help you in your future endeavors. You will connect with seasoned professionals who are willing to share their knowledge.

Clinical laboratory science is changing; navigating those changes with your professional society will be the best investment of time and money you will ever make. In a life full of changes keep something constant. Renew your ASCLS membership!