Roslyn McQueen, PhD, CCRC, ASCLS President

As this is my first column of 2019, it is a good time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. In this month’s column, I will share my personal journey to becoming ASCLS president and discuss my plans for the rest of my presidential year.

I have been a continuous member of ASCLS for over 40 years, and I have never let my membership lapse. I have served on the local, state, regional, and national levels in various capacities from committee member, to committee chair, to state president, to Region IV director.

Personal
I was born Roslyn (no “a” in Roslyn) Wofford in Detroit, but have lived in Saginaw, Michigan, all my life. I have been married to Major General (Ret) Adolph McQueen for almost 40 years. I work at Hurley Medical Center in Flint and drive over 45 miles each way daily from Saginaw Township.

I attended Saginaw High School, graduating in the top 10 in a class of over 500. I received both my Bachelor of Science and doctorate from Michigan State University (MSU), College of Human Medicine, Department of Pathology. At that time, the Pathology Department was comprised of doctoral candidates from the College of Human Medicine, College of Osteopathic Medicine, and College of Veterinary Medicine. I was the only candidate from the College of Human Medicine.

My molecular research was performed in the laboratory of Dr. John Gerlach at MSU. Additionally, I received a Master of Arts from Central Michigan University, in Healthcare Administration.

First Laboratory Jobs
I was informed about the laboratory profession by my family physician but didn’t have any idea about what the profession entailed. Therefore, after my first term at MSU during the winter break, I went to every hospital in Saginaw and applied for a summer job in the laboratory. Of the three hospitals, only one was going to pay me, so I accepted a summer job in the laboratory at Saginaw General Hospital.

I was trained to perform the basic laboratory tests, starting with urinalysis. However, because I had a good work ethic and a strong desire to learn, the pathologist put me on a program to rotate to various departments whenever I returned from college. I was able to work in the lab during my summer and Christmas breaks and experience different departments. It was a very productive and enlightening experience.

St. Luke’s Hospital
After graduating from MSU, I was accepted into the Medical Technology Internship class at St. Luke’s Hospital in Saginaw. St. Luke’s was a very prestigious hospital where every technologist was ASCP certified. The medical technology program had the reputation of every student always passing the registry exam and scoring in the top 10 percent. I was fortunate enough to obtain the second highest grade in my class on the registry.

During my student year, I was introduced to the American Society for Medical Technology (which later became ASCLS) and the entire class became ASMT members. St. Luke’s interns were high achievers and very competitive. Our class participated in the Student Bowl during the Michigan Society for Medical Technology (later renamed ASCLS-MI) Annual Spring Meeting. Each member of the team was given a subject to focus on—mine was hematology/coagulation.

My team took first place in the Michigan Student Bowl and as state winners we were given a free trip to the ASCP national meeting in San Francisco. There, we competed against other teams on the national level and was fortunate enough to win the National Student Bowl. The Saginaw News wrote an article about our victory, naming our class the “Wiz Kids.”

SVSMT
Every tech (we referred to ourselves as “technologists” or “techs” back then, not medical laboratory scientists) at St. Luke’s was a member of the Saginaw Valley Society for Medical Technology (SVSMT). Our Education Coordinator/Lab Director Shirley Cresswell was an active member of the ASMT. She instilled in the class the fact that “medical technology was a profession, not a job,” therefore participation in our professional organization was mandatory. SVSMT was a very active society at the time. I served as treasurer, secretary, and eventually president of SVSMT.

MSMT
Shirley Cresswell also encouraged me to participate in the Michigan Society for Medical Technology (MSMT) and invited me to attend board meetings with her. I started to attend MSMT Annual Meetings and eventually was recruited to serve on various annual meeting subcommittees. My first chairmanship appointment was workshop chair for the MSMT Spring Meeting. Later I was elected the MSMT District IX director, worked on several committees, became bylaws chair, and ultimately was elected MSMT president in 2002.

While serving as ASCLS Region IV director, Linda Gorman recommended me to serve on the ASCLS national Bylaws Committee. On the national level, I served on various committees, was appointed national bylaws chair, and eventually Linda Gorman suggested that I run for the position of Region IV director. While serving in my second term as Region IV director, Barbara Snyderman encouraged me to run for ASCLS president-elect.

Employment
I was hired at St. Luke’s hospital after graduation, worked as a staff tech, and was later promoted to Hematology Department supervisor. In this role, I worked with various heme-oncologists, residents, and other physicians. Later I was offered a job to work in research. Saginaw Cooperative Hospital was the Saginaw campus of MSU’s medical school where the university physicians established community campuses throughout the state. Ultimately, I left the clinical laboratory and, together with a colleague, started the Research Laboratory for Saginaw Cooperative Hospitals.

I have participated in various aspects of research starting with cancer research projects using mice assessing the efficacy of various drugs on the regression of tumor cells. This was performed under the direction of the heme-oncologist, who was director of internal medicine. Additionally, we performed in vitro susceptibility and synergism studies in infectious disease research under the direction of my boss, who was an infectious disease specialist and director of pediatric education.

In 1985 my boss, Dr. Ralph Gordon, was asked to assume the position of Director of Pediatric Education Residency Program at Hurley Medical Center, and he asked me to go with him and establish our research laboratory. There, I established the Pediatric Research and Education Laboratory. Through the years, we have submitted research papers that were published in leading scientific journals and made presentations at national, state, and local meetings. I conducted academic research at Hurley until 2000, when we changed focus to conducting industry-sponsored clinical trials.

Although, my primary focus is research, I have also provided teaching electives in infectious disease research and hematology to Hurley Medical Center pediatric residents and MSU medical students. I also serve as a hematology instructor for medical technology students at Hurley Medical Center and leukemia guest lecturer at Saginaw Valley State University. I have written chapters in hematology books for Bunny Rodak and J. Lynne Williams. I currently conduct clinical trials at Hurley Medical Center, as well as re-focus our efforts on academic research projects of molecular marker on red cells of patients with sickle cell disease.

I have been mentored by some of the most amazing individuals through the years from Michigan and throughout ASCLS. My education provided the initial skills and knowledge needed to begin my career, but ASCLS has provided me with the opportunities to become a professional. This mentorship has prepared me to assume the highest elected position in our illustrious organization. I do not take this lightly and am devoting every effort to fulfill the responsibilities associated with the office of president.

ASCEND – Exemplifying Sustainable Excellence in Laboratory Medicine
This year I have presented ASCEND as the platform for my 2018-19 presidential year, with the tagline, “Exemplifying Sustainable Excellence in Laboratory Medicine.”

ASCEND focuses on the changes that must occur as we meet the current challenges facing our organization, our profession, and our professionals. The letters in ASCEND stand for six key target areas.

A = Association Wellness
S = Sustaining the Strategic Map
C = Communication
E = Enhance Education
N = Networking
D = Diversity, and Leadership Development

Key platforms for this year include:

Constituent Society Wellness Taskforce. Under the Association Wellness platform, this new taskforce will take the data from the Root Cause Taskforce and establish a plan of action to support and strengthen our constituent societies.

ASCLS Annual Meeting – New Day, New Opportunities for Partnerships. An impending challenge facing ASCLS is the dissociation of our national meeting from the AACC Scientific Expo. Circumstances beyond our control resulted in our organization going out on our own, but this obstacle represents an opportunity for ASCLS to ASCEND to a new level. We look with optimism that this will open a new chapter in the life of our Society with the opportunity to sponsor an exceptional national meeting that will address the educational needs of our members.

This year’s meeting will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, June 23-27. Our new partnership with the Association of Genetic Technologists (AGT) offers expanded and broadened education programming and access to a wider range of industry partners. We will have a vendor experience that will provide the face time our members seek with our industry partners. We encourage everyone to make plans to attend the new Annual Meeting. Also note that subsequent national meetings will be held in late June, instead of July. See you in Charlotte!

Communication Enhancements. This past fall we reinstituted Society News Now, our monthly e-newsletter, as one means of increasing communication with our membership. Susie Zanto established Society News Now to address the question of “What is ASCLS doing for me?” My goal is to continue her legacy and communicate activities that occur on a monthly or bi-monthly basis and provide information about what ASCLS is doing on behalf of our membership.

We have employed a director of marketing and communications and established a Marketing and Communications Committee. More information will be highlighted in future issues of ASCLS Today.

In 2019, ASCLS will continue to ASCEND to sustainable excellence through:
A: Working to identify and strength our struggling and/or inactive societies
S: Enhance the mission of our organization through our strategic plan
C: Increase communication
E: Enhance education
N: Increase our network within scientific associations
D: Provide leadership development for our diverse membership.

Roslyn McQueen is a research doctor at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan.