Volume 37 Number 1 | February 2023
Kim Von Ahsen, MHA, MLS(ASCP)CM,SLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS President
The subject of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) is one that gives me pause. Pause because I am not an expert, and this topic is so critically important to ASCLS, the profession, and to our patients. I want to make sure that when I speak about DEIB that I am mindful of my privilege. The continued need is for me to listen and learn so that I can be a better leader within my workplace, in my profession, and especially within the community I live in.
Many have heard of mindfulness, the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing. Being aware of the issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging are important. Mindfulness ensures one is aware of the positive and negative impact of words and thoughts on both the individual and systemic level. However, awareness is only the first step towards action in addressing DEIB in ASCLS and also within our profession and the diverse patients we serve.
Mindedness is willingness to address issues. It is a state of being minded in a particular way. When I think of the work done by ASCLS during my time on the Board of Directors, I believe we have been minded in our commitment to identifying and addressing issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within ASCLS, and we continue to ignite discussions of the issues that impact members, professionals, and patients.
Highlights of minded actions by ASCLS include:
- Enhancing the diversity of the candidates for the Board of Directors by shifting from a geographical to holistic qualifications that represent the skills, competencies, and perspectives needed to be a successful board member—an action that was positively affirmed by the ASCLS House of Delegates.
- ASCLS continues to support the role that the laboratory has in providing equitable laboratory services, including access to those services, through support of legislation such as SALSA (Saving Access to Laboratory Services Act). ASCLS and our members have been leading the discussions in the inequity of laboratory testing and the impacts of addressing these disparities, such as reference ranges and gender affirming care and the flawed use of race in creatinine and eGFR calculations in establishing kidney disease.
- Review of organization policies to ensure the use of inclusive language has been a goal of the ASCLS Policy and Procedures Committee.
- The Diversity Advocacy Council hosted a book club discussion for the book, Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body, a memoir by Rebekah Taussig, a disability advocate. These are important conversations. As an organization and profession, we need to provide better care to patients with disabilities that
need laboratory services. And we need to be inclusive in the workplace to our peers with disabilities who wish to enter the workforce or remain in the laboratory.
- The feeling of belonging begins with creating community. Community is one of ASCLS’ strategic pillars alongside advocacy and knowledge. ASCLS believes that our constituent societies are uniquely positioned to provide community to laboratory professionals where they work and live. This community enables “ASCLS is to make a positive impact in health care” (ASCLS Mission) “where all persons can engage and participate in a meaningful way empowering everyone to grow and learn.” (ASCLS Diversity Statement)
It is important that as an organization, we continue to consider mindedness when developing programs and setting policies within ASCLS, because “everyone deserves access to safe, effective, efficient, equitable, and patient-centered healthcare.” (ASCLS Believes)
ASCLS Mission, ASCLS Believes, and ASCLS Diversity Statement can be found at ascls.org/mission-vision-statement.
Kim Von Ahsen is the Laboratory Quality and Safety Specialist at UnityPoint – Health Des Moines, Iowa Methodist Medical Center, in Des Moines, Iowa.