by Suzanne Campbell, ASCLS President 2016-2017

ASCLS President Suzanne Campbell presented her vision for the future of the Society during her President’s Acceptance Speech to the House of Delegates in Philadelphia. It is an honor and privilege to serve as YOUR ASCLS president for the upcoming year. Thank you for believing in me and allowing me this opportunity!

I would like to share my journey to becoming your ASCLS president. Both of my parents grew up in rural south central Kansas on farms. They were married after dad returned from his Army deployment to Korea and mom graduated from high school. Thank you, dad, for your service to our country! I was born in Hutchinson, Kansas. I have one brother, Christopher, who is 18 months younger. My father was a carpenter who owned a construction business with his brothers for over 40 years. My mother was a stay at home mom until I was in high school. We moved to Kingman, Kansas soon after I was born. Since my parents couldn’t keep me in the fenced yard, we moved to the country. The closest town was Rago, Kansas that consisted of the post office, the grain elevator and during the summer, a ball park where the men’s fast pitch softball team played. My parents taught me the value of a strong work ethic. As a kid, my chores included feeding a menagerie of animals – ducks, geese, chickens, goats, sheep, pigs, cows, horses, and burros – to name a few.

I attended public school the first two years and then St. Patrick’s Catholic school until 8th grade. I was a good student and did very well academically in all of my subjects. I enjoyed music as well as the math and science curriculum
– yes I was the nerd. I graduated from Kingman High School in 1982 as the salutatorian of my class – fourth out of 62 students. Because of my outstanding performance in math and science, I was offered an engineering scholarship to Kansas State University.

However, I was interested in a healthcare career so I turned down the engineering scholarship. I considered a premedicine major but as a first generation college student, I wasn’t sure how to navigate the college system for 10 or more years and wasn’t aware of financial aid. My high school counselor shared a book with me about careers in healthcare. When I found medical technology now known as medical laboratory science, I knew I had found my calling. I have always believed being a medical laboratory scientist is the next best thing to being the physician.

There are two medical technology programs in Kansas – Wichita State University (WSU) and the University of Kansas. I was invited to a Distinguished Student Scholarship Competition at WSU and met with the MT program director. Just an hour from home, I knew WSU was the place for me.

In 1986, most of the laboratory environment was undergoing staffing changes due to diagnostic related-group (DRGs) reimbursement cuts so the hospitals in Wichita were not hiring. I interviewed in Manhattan and Garden City and accepted a position at St. Catherine’s Hospital in southwest Kansas. Little did I know this first year of employment would not only solidify my technical expertise in medical laboratory science but also be my first opportunity to become involved in the Kansas Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (KSCLS). In 1987, Beckie Hetrick invited me to my second KSCLS annual meeting.

After one year at St. Catherine’s Hospital, I relocated to Liberal, Kansas and was employed by Southwest Medical Center. Beckie and I remained in contact and I began to assume responsibilities within the KSCLS leadership. I volunteered as a district representative, then board member and ultimately serving two terms as president. It was during one of the many KSCLS meetings that Elissa Passiment said, “Suzanne – you have potential at the national level.” As KSCLS president, I became aware of opportunities at the regional and national levels serving on the Region VI council. I have served on the national leadership development committee and the nominations committee. I was elected as Region VI director in 2012. While still in Los Angeles for the ASCLS annual meeting, Cheryl Caskey said, “I look forward to seeing you as president of ASCLS in the future.” Thank you to Beckie, Elissa, and Cheryl for the support and words of encouragement because without them I would not be standing before you today. I also want to express my sincere appreciation for the support of so many of you.

My professional career consists of four years of employment in full service hospital laboratories as a generalist. I was the laboratory manager for an obstetrics physician office for two years. Since 1992, I have been the director of the medical laboratory technology program at Seward County Community College (SCCC). In September, I will complete a five year assignment as the project director of a $4.2 million STEM grant. Most recently, I assumed the role of the Dean of Allied Health. In the history of the institution, I am the first supervisor of this department that is not a nurse. During my tenure at SCCC, I completed a master’s of science degree in educational administration from Fort Hays State University and a doctorate of philosophy in educational administration with a focus on higher education leadership from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Throughout my professional journey, I have had the dedication and support of my wonderful husband of 28 years, Michael and our two daughters, Jessica and Megan. I have known my husband since I was six years old. We grew up as neighbors but never dated until I graduated from college and moved to southwestern Kansas. Together we have traveled coast to coast, played in the sand with our dune buggy, spent many hours at the lake, and completed many dives exploring our underwater world. Mike is an excellent provider for our family who works hard and plays hard.

Jessica and Megan have grown up to be intelligent, beautiful young women with career goals. Jessica began her healthcare career as a paramedic. She is calm and in command when in a situation of crisis and chaos. During her time as a paramedic, she earned four life saved bars. She is passionate about helping those in need. She earned a bachelor of science in nursing and is a registered nurse who works in trauma ICU at Oklahoma University Medical Center. This is one nurse that better know her laboratory reference ranges or I will have to educate her. Jessica’s future career goal is pursuing a doctorate of nurse practice degree with an emphasis in anesthesia.

Megan possesses a bachelor of science degree in zoology/preveterinary and is pursuing her dream of completing a doctorate of veterinary medicine degree. Her desire for providing care to animals started at the age of ten. She has worked seven years as a veterinary technician and is currently employed at Oklahoma State University Veterinary Hospital as a small animal ICU technician. She is applying for admission to DVM programs.

The most recent addition to the Campbell family is our son-in-law, Colt Franklin. Colt and Jessica recently celebrated their one year wedding anniversary. Colt is an Army veteran having served six years with deployments to Baghdad as part of the Operation Iraqi Freedom surge to bring Baghdad under control. He has also served as a fire fighter and paramedic. His live saved bar was earned with Jessica as they saved the life of a young girl. He is currently a police officer. Thank you, Colt, for your service as a veteran and an officer. Thank you to Dad and Mom, Mike, Jessica and Megan for your unwavering love and support.

If you were present for my president-elect candidate speech at the 2015 ASCLS Annual Meeting, you remember my platform of the three C’s or C3. Those three Cs are Commitment, Communication and Collective Responsibility. I addressed the commitment we must have to ensure the support of the Leadership Academy and the formal mentoring program. We must commit to growing our own leaders and providing them with the necessary learning tools to become successful leaders. The formal mentoring program ensures the ability to pass along best practices that will serve to strengthen the future of our professional organization.

As a grassroots organization, communication is key to the success of the organization. Regular, informative dialogue to and from all levels – state, regional and national – drives the mission and vision of ASCLS. To strengthen our position within the medical laboratory science profession as well as the healthcare environment, we must educate others about our role in providing quality healthcare, provide new ideas founded on evidence based practice, and remain current on all issues impacting our laboratory community.

Collective responsibility encompasses all of the above as well as realizing our successes and challenges as a team effort. We have a responsibility to OUR profession, OUR organization and OUR patients.

During the Long Range Planning Day in March, the board of directors embarked on the development and initial steps of implementation for a new strategy map. Different than a strategic plan, a strategy map allows us to identify a unique critical objective and the supporting pillars for that objective. Our unique critical objective is to “actively engage and prepare medical laboratory professionals to meet the demands of the evolving healthcare environment.” The pillars are Marketing, Membership, Organizational Efficiency and Internal Communication, Advocacy and Professional Promotion,Collaboration, and Education. The 2016-2017 critical priorities of ASCLS are Marketing and Membership.

With an eye on membership, we will grow the number of members and membership revenue. A component of this will be a review of current membership fees and categories. Promotion of a diverse membership will be addressed. Leadership will evaluate the base of currently active members to ensure they remain active volunteers as they progress through their careers and into retirement.

Organization efficiency, internal communication, advocacy and professional promotion comprise the important pillars. Organizational efficiency will target identification and dissemination of leadership best practices. We will ensure a strong culture of mentorship and integrate that culture into continuing education programs. Systems that foster a culture of accountability will be developed. Data driven management platforms to evaluate and manage ASCLS activities will be developed and maintained. Engagement among national, regional and state levels will support the communication pillar.

Advocacy and professional promotion will offer opportunities for ASCLS to work with partner organizations to maximize efforts on federal legislative and regulatory advocacy. The focus on advocacy will define the role of the laboratorian in the evolving healthcare environment. We will work to expand and strengthen the role of laboratorians as advocates for patient centered services.

Lastly, collaboration and education will round out the pillars of the strategic map. Collaboration will strengthen the ties between ASCLS and other laboratory organizations. Working inter-professionally, we will improve diagnosis, treatment, and disease prevention modalities. We will take full advantage of our affiliation with NAACLS and the Board of Certification.

The education pillar is supported by strategies to expand continuing education opportunities as well as promoting professional development beyond continuing technical education. We will facilitate a culture of lifelong learning along a continuum of education that supports career advancement. To grow our own, educational activities on leadership and mentorship will be developed, supported and maintained.

I believe in you and ask that you believe in me as your president. Thank you for your support. It is an honor to work with so many dedicated, passionate members of this premier organization. As your servant leader, I invite you to join me in Moving ASCLS Forward.