Maddie Josephs, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS President

Few organizations perform advocacy as well as ASCLS. After all, it is one of the Society’s strategic pillars. As the premier organization for medical laboratory professionals, ASCLS clearly has advocacy at the core of its goals and objectives. Our leadership and staff, committee and task force members work to bring awareness to the issues that affect our profession.

We certainly don’t advocate for the laboratory profession on our own, as we work together with other stakeholders to promote our initiatives. This is an important distinction, as we need to collaborate to make the difference we make. Advocacy is so important to ASCLS that our efforts have been rebranded into “Labvocate.” So, who labvocates on behalf of ASCLS and the profession? The answer, of course, should be every single one of us.

Our Government Affairs Committee is an active committee whose purpose is to help influence healthcare policy with a special focus on the laboratory by introducing and advancing legislation that affects the laboratory as well as keeping an eye on regulatory issues. Our annual Laboratory Legislative Symposium, which is well attended, brings our members in the halls of Senate and Congressional buildings in Washington, D.C., every year to meet with our respective representatives to discuss these matters of importance. I am proud to say our past efforts have proved to be quite successful.

It is no secret that the healthcare system in this country has become very complex. Through legislation and regulation, decisions are made that have a direct impact on every aspect of healthcare. Therefore, it is vital that our profession have a voice in government. Through our ASCLS Political Action Committee (PAC), our Society can support candidates who understand the needs of our profession and make certain that ASCLS is well-represented in Washington. It is crucial that we support our PAC to ensure our interests are guarded.

ASCLS position papers have allowed our Society to make its stand known on a variety of topics. The Position Paper Task Force is currently reviewing the papers posted on our website and is working to identify those that should be updated. Some of the most recent position papers, Standardizing the Professional Title of Medical Laboratory Professionals and Addressing the Clinical Laboratory Workforce Shortage, are timely and should be promoted by all ASCLS members to help influence the future of our profession.

The LABVOCATE Action Center, found on the ASCLS website, currently focuses on some issues that have come to light due to COVID-19. Anyone can sign up for alerts, and you can even find the contact information for your own representatives and reach out to them to express your thoughts or request their support. The webpage has made this process seamless, and every member should take advantage of this service.

Why should YOU labvocate? Because there are many matters, whether financial or regulatory, licensure related, issues regarding social disparities in healthcare, workforce issues, etc., that, at one point or another, affect every single one of us. In addition, advocacy brings us recognition for the important role we play in healthcare and for the services we provide to ensure quality patient care. None of us can advocate for our profession alone.

As an ASCLS member, you don’t necessarily have to be a member of a committee or task force to advocate. However, you and I should all be talking about who we are and what we do, because together we stand stronger and our collective voice is louder and more impactful. This only serves to ensure that we make a difference for our Society, our profession, and our peers, and that this profession and our organization continue to grow for the next generation of Society leaders.

Maddie Josephs is Chair of the Allied Health Department and Director of the MLT & Histotechnician Programs at the Community College of Rhode Island in Lincoln, Rhode Island.