Maddie Josephs, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS President
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as the next president of ASCLS. During my candidate speech last year in Charlotte, North Carolina, I addressed the visibility of both our profession and our organization. As I assume this role, I will work hard to represent this organization well and will strive to increase our visibility among other healthcare professionals and the general public.
But first, I would like to tell you a little bit about myself and my journey to this point. I come from the great state of Rhode Island, whose motto is “HOPE.” While it is the smallest state in the union, to me, it is home with the most beautiful coastline, and I cannot imagine living anywhere else.
I grew up in a very loving and supportive family, the youngest of three children and the only girl. I met John, my husband and best friend, at a summer job. We married after college and raised three beautiful, smart, and successful children—Andrew; Lindsay, and her husband Noah; and Lauren, and her husband Brendan. I am so very fortunate to have their love and support.
It seems that everyone has a story about how they became interested in this profession, whether through a class they attended in high school or a teacher or mentor who encouraged them to pursue the field of laboratory science. I do not remember how I chose this career, but I knew in the eighth grade that this was the career I wanted. During high school, I volunteered two days per week in a lab at a small community-based hospital. This experience only served to enhance my love of the lab and this profession.
After graduating from high school, I attended Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. For my clinical year, which I still refer to as one of the best years of my life, I attended St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Medical Technology in Providence, Rhode Island. After graduation, I started my career at Roger Williams Hospital, in Providence, in the Chemistry Department. After one year I became the clinical instructor and coordinator at the hospital for the MLT students from the Community College of Rhode Island; this is where I discovered my love for teaching. To be able to combine my passion for this profession with teaching was a dream come true. Several years later, I was contacted by the community college program director and asked if I would teach Clinical Chemistry. I just completed 31 years at the college. I am currently the chair of the Allied Health Department, overseeing nine programs and the director for the MLT and HT programs.
One of my biggest regrets is that I was never encouraged to join ASCLS as a student or as a young professional. It wasn’t until I was at the college and I was asked to speak at an ASCLS-Central New England (CNE) spring meeting that I saw the magic that occurs behind the scenes. I joined ASCLS at that meeting. The next year, I was asked to join the Meeting Committee, and the year after that I was elected secretary of ASCLS-CNE. The rest, as they say, is history. As an educator, I now make sure that my students are aware of who we are and what we do, and I strongly encourage their participation.
Which brings us to today: Not to sound cliché, but no one could ever have imagined the challenges and changes this entire world has seen over the past six months. No one has been immune to this. We have been dealt a painful reminder that there is so much that we cannot control and to never take anything for granted. But through this unprecedented time, medical laboratory professionals have kept on going in their calm and confident manner and have continued to work, learn, educate, advocate, and to make a difference. I could not be prouder of my colleagues on the front lines who represent who we are and what we do.
And while it took a pandemic, the value of the medical laboratory professional has been highlighted. We saw our “laboratories in the news” because ASCLS Past President Jim Griffith suggested a letter writing campaign to local media highlighting the role of the lab, and many of our letters were published. In addition, ASCLS Executive Vice President Jim Flanigan has participated in interviews for the LA Times, the PBS News Hour, and National Public Radio (NPR) and made the role of the medical laboratory professionals quite clear from the start. ASCLS members and staff have participated around the country on state governors’ task forces, social media platforms, and on CDC webinars.
This is the momentum we need to keep going, and it takes all of us as ASCLS members and laboratory professionals to do this. The world around us has changed, as has ASCLS. Not just because of COVID-19, but because of our changing demographics and our evolving technologies. Professional organizations that don’t consistently look ahead and anticipate and facilitate change will be left behind. Fortunately, ASCLS will not be one of those organizations left behind because of the investments we have made in resources that will ensure our ability to deliver value to our members.
Constituent Society Task Force
During this past year, the Board of Directors heard and learned much from the Constituent Society Task Force and has made the decision to make helping our state societies a priority. We have known for a very long time that many of our state societies were struggling with issues revolving around leadership and that they needed some guidance with procedural matters. Throughout our long-range planning process, we made the decision to develop guidelines and standards to assist our state societies, to ensure the smooth transition from one leader to another, and to help young leaders as they ascend to their new roles.
House of Delegates Task Force
The House of Delegates (HOD) Task Force, whose work will continue this year, has been charged with reviewing the roles and duties of the HOD. While their work is not yet completed, they have been very introspective and are taking this task very seriously.
Virtual Learning Steering Committee
Because the Society has invested in the resources and infrastructure necessary to support online continuing education, the newly formed Virtual Learning Steering Committee will lead the Society’s efforts in virtual learning, which includes webinars and webcasts, all delivered through labucate.org, our learning management system. The new group will be responsible for coordinating with virtual learning initiatives already underway within other volunteer leadership groups and for developing curriculum that will identify educational gaps and topics.
Emerging Managers Conference
The ASCLS Emerging Managers Virtual Conference, which we are targeting for Fall of 2020, is another initiative that aligns with our strategic framework. As an entire generation of laboratory professionals retires, and as many younger and less experienced laboratory professionals are being asked to assume management positions, there is a need to help prepare these younger professionals for thier new roles. This conference, which will be guided by volunteers, will utilize the resources that ASCLS has in place to hold virtual conferences, just like the successful ASCLS & AGT Joint Annual Meeting (JAM) we held this summer.
Town Hall Meetings
During the 2020 Joint Annual Meeting, I heard a common theme from many ASCLS members that revolved around the implementation of a Town Hall. We know other organizations do this successfully, and I would like to work with the Board of Directors to institute a Virtual Town Hall to engage all ASCLS members, keep them informed, and give them a voice. I encourage participation by all.
With regard to our journal, I, along with the Board of Directors and the journal’s editorial board, will do what is necessary to help get Clinical Laboratory Science into an acceptable format. We understand that publishing a journal is one aspect of being a professional society, and we want our members to continue to submit to Clinical Laboratory Science. To all those members who expressed concern, the Board hears you, we share your concern, and we will take action.
Addressing Social Disparities in Healthcare
And lastly, I want to assure you all that ASCLS will use the talents and skills of our members to identify and implement solutions to social disparities in healthcare. Our work begins now.
There was such great energy at the 2020 JAM throughout the entire week, and we need to harness this energy and positivity. The Board of Directors and I will do our part to keep this momentum going but we will rely on all of you to continue to spread the word, to spread the energy, and keep our profession and our professional organization visible.
Individually, we have many roles—professionals, educators and advocates, spouses, parents, grandparents, children, and much more. But collectively, we are all THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR CLINICAL LABORATORY SCIENCE. I look forward to collaborating with you, and I thank you for having confidence in me to achieve our goals.
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.