Roslyn McQueen, PhD, CCRC, ASCLS President

Throughout the year, my ASCLS Today articles have focused on the theme of ASCEND – Exemplifying Sustainable Excellence in Laboratory Medicine. ASCEND represents the call to action for an organization experiencing change and transformation. Each letter in the word ASCEND represents a component of six target areas. This month’s article will focus on N, for Networking.

Networking is defined as the “the act of making contact and exchanging information with other people, groups, and institutions to develop mutually beneficial relationships.” Networking provides the opportunity to meet likeminded members from all avenues of our profession, from bench techs to specialists, students to educators, and industry to researchers. ASCLS is a grassroots, volunteer-led organization, and it is crucial for our survival that we collaborate and participate with other allied healthcare organizations. There is strength in numbers, so we can speak with one voice to impact healthcare legislation for the benefit of the laboratory profession. Ultimately, we must strengthen our support of, and participation with, other laboratory health professionals, such as the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), American Medical Technologists (AMT), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), American Society for Microbiology (ASM), and American Society of Hematology (ASH) (just to name a few).

Legislative Symposium
In March I traveled to Washington, D.C., where we completed very successful ASCLS Board of Directors Planning Day and Interim Board Meeting and the Legislative Symposium. The Legislative Symposium is the vehicle where ASCLS can truly represent our profession with our partner agencies. I commend the Government Affairs Committee and Annette Bednar, chair, for organizing such an insightful event. This year’s Legislative Symposium included representatives from the Association of Genetic Technologists (AGT), AMT, ASCP, Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA), and National Society for Histotechnology (NSH). Our networking success comes from building true relationships and powerful coalitions among these organizations.

The Legislative Symposium is a true representation of networking among laboratory-focused organizations. It is evident that regardless of the name of the organization, all medical laboratory scientists are faced with the same issues and problems. We realize that there is power in numbers when we speak to legislators and advocate for a common objective.

Learning about the issues and speaking to our congressional representatives and senators is an incredible experience. At the symposium, participants received training on talking points the first day and then proceeded to Capitol Hill the next day to discuss them with our congressional officials. We all share the same issues related to the clinical laboratory workforce shortage, laboratory-developed testing, and funding for medical laboratory science college-based programs.

The Michigan delegation met with representatives from both senators and distributed packets to the offices of all Michigan representatives, thanks to our leader, Stephanie Mabry. Each year she organizes our group and tells us where to go and when to report. Every office was very supportive of our issues. I remember my first Legislative Symposium when I was ASCLS-MI president-elect. I was overwhelmed with the magnificence of Capitol Hill, riding the Metro, and learning about the political process. I thought that I could never speak to a congressperson. Flash forward years later, I now feel very comfortable with the process, however, the Metro system remains a challenge. I’m glad we travel as a group.

Other Networks
ASCLS maintains collaboration with other allied health organizations. ASCLS members are appointed to represent the Society on the boards of various organizations including the following.

Organization ASCLS Representatives
American Hospital Association Edward Peterson
Board of Certification Board of Governors

JR Constance
Dana Duzan
Joan Polancic
Linda Smith

Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) Nicholas Moore
CLSI Board Member – Professions Representative Rick Panning
Consumer Information Response Team Susan J. Leclair, Director
Coordinating Council for the Clinical Laboratory Workforce (CCCLW) Susie Zanto
Health Professions Network (HPN) Dan Olson
International Federation of Biomedical Laboratory Science (IFBLS) Hassan Aziz
IFBLS Board of Directors Cathy Otto
Media Alert Advance Deb Rodahl
National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS) Marcia Armstrong
Maribeth Flaws
Bill Hunt

 

Networking through the Scientific Assemblies
Networking also refers to the “action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts for mutually beneficial relationships.” We exemplify this act of networking through our scientific assemblies. The diversity of our scientific disciplines generates individuals with specific interests, needs, and levels of competencies. Every ASCLS member can participate in a scientific assembly, propose continuing education and ideas, consult with like-minded peers, and develop a national network of professional colleagues.

Several years ago, I was preparing to establish the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TDT) stain in my research lab. At that time there were no kits available; you had to read the scientific articles, determine the supply vendors, purchase the reagents, obtain controls, and set up the procedure. This was going to take weeks or months, since I also had my regular work to perform. I attended an ASCLS-MI state meeting and participated in a roundtable discussion. A fellow hematologist informed me that her institution had set that TDT procedure up about six months prior. Ultimately, she sent me her procedure, names of suppliers, and a box of controls. I was able to set up the procedure in days rather than weeks or months. This is the type of networking that makes a difference in one’s ability to function on the job.

ASCLS scientific assemblies are excellent vehicles for member involvement and connection on the state and national levels. Through the scientific assemblies, you are introduced to the experts in your field, can interact with them on a personal level, and receive (free) assistance and support immediately. Through the years, if I have hematology issues, I will call Tim Randolph or Lynne Williams for consultation, or John Gerlach for immunology issues. One of my state lectures last year included CRISPR, a new gene editing procedure. CRISPR stands for clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats; well, I immediately called John Gerlach and Kristin Landis Piwowar. Consequently, I know firsthand the importance of participating in my professional organization and the friendships of experts I have acquired throughout the years.

Scientific Assembly Experts
The scientific assemblies offer members opportunities for scientific, professional, and personal growth. At the time of publication, Susan Stalewski and Elizabeth Dahlgren are coordinator and vice coordinator of the scientific assemblies, and the experts who chair the various assemblies include:

  • Chemistry/Urinalysis Assembly: Gerald D. Redwine
  • Education Assembly: Floyd Josephat
  • Hematology/Hemostasis Assembly: Demetra Castillo
  • Immunology/Immunohematology Assembly: April Nelsen
  • Informatics Assembly: Shashi Mehta
  • Laboratory Administration QA/QC/Regulatory/Industry/Consultants Assembly: Jean Bauer
  • Microbiology/Public Health Assembly: Marcia Firmani
  • Molecular Diagnostics Assembly: Rachel Alexander
  • Phlebotomy Assembly: Estelle Ninnemann
  • Point of Care Assembly: Stephanie Mihane

There is no cost to join a scientific assembly. Members can join through the ASCLS Connect Communities. The scientific assemblies:

  • Provide expertise within a CLS discipline
  • Provide opportunities for basic and continuing education including online education
  • Identify avenues for scientific and professional advancement
  • Assist in developing clinical laboratory standards
  • Participate in CLS discipline-centered written and electronic communication
  • Participate in the web-based ASCLS forum
  • Identify talent for scientific and professional activities

Networking provides a coalition of allied health professionals to improve the future state of the laboratory profession. I encourage everyone to participate in networking and to join a scientific assembly.

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