Volume 35 Number 4 | August 2021

Maddie Josephs, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS President, 2020-21

Maddie JosephsWhat an extraordinary year we just had! It was remarkable and memorable for many reasons, good and bad. But the most incredible thing was that we survived, and as an organization, we have thrived. The work of the ASCLS Board of Directors and committees has propelled our organization forward in so many positive ways. When I became president last year, so much was unknown. We knew the impact of the pandemic, but we still did not realize just how far reaching that impact would be. The fact that we were able to hold a face-to-face Joint Annual Meeting this year is a credit to the diligent work of our fellow scientists who developed vaccines in an unprecedented and accelerated fashion. To those scientists, we owe a debt of gratitude.

I say with humility that being president of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science has been a privilege and the honor of a lifetime. Working with the talented leadership of this organization has made me appreciate the value of our volunteers, without whom we could not possibly complete our mission to provide support and value to our members and to our profession. I wish to publicly thank my fellow board members for their support and guidance and committee chairs and members for their diligence and hard work.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize our talented ASCLS staff. I have witnessed, firsthand, just how hard they work for this organization. We could not possibly have accomplished all we did if it were not for Executive Vice President Jim Flanigan and staff members Melanie Giusti, Andrea Hickey, and Julia O’Donnell. I wish to personally thank them for their guidance, support, and most importantly, their patience with me. I know that I could count on them for anything that I needed.

Last year, as I took an oath to become your president, I was both excited and more than a bit nervous. I know that there was always something that could have been done better and sooner, but I will tell you all that I did the best I could under the circumstances, having both job and family obligations along the way. Having a talented cadre of volunteers certainly made my job easier.

The theme I spoke of last year was Momentum. The pandemic presented us with many challenges, but also many opportunities. We had the opportunity to showcase our members in social and news media, to highlight the importance of our profession, and to show that as laboratory professionals we are resilient.

We had so many firsts this past year, thanks to ideas that were promulgated by board and committee members, and those ideas were put into action. Diversity, inclusion, and equity continued to be on the forefront of this organization’s agenda over the past year, and as a result, ASCLS held its inaugural PRISM: Pride · Respect · Inclusion · Support · Momentum event, which by all accounts was successful. The Diversity Advocacy Council (DAC), guided by Board Liaison Kim Von Ahsen and Staff Liaison Andrea Hickey, presented a week-long event that was thought provoking and opened the eyes of participants to understand what diversity means, to recognize unconscious bias, and to help make our organization supportive of all people. This work has not ended. We still have a long way to go, but our ideas and words became action, that first step has been taken, and we will continue to grow our organization into one that embraces diversity in our profession and in the greater community.

As education is an important objective for ASCLS, the Emerging Laboratory Managers Collaborative Conference (ELMC2) also had its inaugural event in January. Designed specifically for laboratory professionals to help them transition into management, this two-day virtual conference will now become an annual event. As we see our more seasoned professionals retire, we are strategically educating and preparing a younger workforce and providing them with the skills to take on leadership and management positions in the laboratory. Thanks to all of those “seasoned” members for serving as faculty members for the conference and providing the knowledge and insight into laboratory management for our next generation of leaders.

I also mention the concept of Town Halls last year, and while I do wish we could have expanded on this a bit more, we held a well-attended Town Hall on Professional Licensure during Medical Laboratory Professionals Week in April. Our panel, led by moderator Stephanie Noblit, started the conversation, and I am hoping that we will be able strategize further over the next few months to develop action plans to help our states either gain or retain licensure for medical laboratory professionals.

As an educator, I appreciate the value of our educational lab science programs, and I am sure you do as well. As a professional organization, and the premier organization for medical laboratory professionals, we must find a way to provide support to programs that are struggling or are in danger of closure. The profession cannot afford to lose educational programs due to low enrollment or for financial reasons. We must continue to advocate for our programs and remain in contact with leadership in Congress to support the passage of legislation which would aid our programs to ensure their health and longevity. I will continue to advocate for these programs and, in essence, our future laboratory professionals.

You may have heard that the ASCLS Board of Directors has begun a conversation to look at a more streamlined governance structure. The objective is to help ASCLS grow into a stronger organization. We are and will always be a grassroots, member-centric Society, but we also know that change can be healthy and is sometimes necessary. The purpose of our constituent societies is to provide member value, and here is where we need to focus resources. There will be more information coming over the next few months, as well as an opportunity for our members to ask questions and share concerns.

I will say again that this has been the honor of a lifetime, and as challenging as it was, I would not trade a single day. Thank you for putting your faith in me to lead our Society. Thank you again to my fellow board members. Thank you to the thousands of medical laboratory professionals, integral members of the healthcare team, who provide essential functions for our healthcare consumers, and who show resilience in the face of adversity. Thank you, American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, for providing the support and resources for laboratory professionals everywhere.

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.