Volume 37 Number 2 | April 2023

Galina Dronova, MLS(ASCP), ASCLS-Minnesota President-Elect

Galina DronovaOff the Bench PodcastWhen you think of the year 2020, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For many, the answer may be “the pandemic,” “the year the world shut down,” or at times the answer contains more personal tragedies and successes. For me, one of the highlights of 2020 was graduating from the ASCLS national Leadership Academy. But this isn’t a story about me, it’s about the work we did as a group of 11 leaders with a desire to increase professional visibility.

Our chosen Leadership Academy project was to boost the already existing Off the Bench podcast, and it proved to be an optimal year to take on the work. The number of people who listen to podcasts on a weekly basis was already on a steady incline, but the pandemic provided an additional boost, as more people transitioned to work-from-home environments. According to Edison Research, between 2015 and 2022, the percentage of Americans over 12 years old who have at least tried a podcast at some point in their lives grew from 33 million to 62 million (Figure 1). Our decision to jump on the bandwagon wasn’t based on statistics, however, but instead because we had a desire to meet people where they were.

Figure 1.

Podcast Listening Stats 2006-2022Medical laboratory professionals make up a diverse range of nationalities, ages, locations, and, most importantly, how they prefer to process information. Some prefer to read newsletters, others prefer attending in-person events, but there are those who just have a moment in time during a drive to engage with new information.

At the start of our project, the Off the Bench podcast had eight episodes since February 5, 2019, with 1,100 podcast downloads. As of March 1, 2023, we have over 20,000 downloads, and we could not be more grateful for the listeners from all over the world. We have carved out a space among other medical laboratory science podcast peers, and with your help, we will only continue to grow.

We set out with the idea that a diverse community should have diverse methods of engagement, and our goal is not only to increase listeners, but involve more members of the community in the conversation.

If you haven’t tuned in yet, won’t you join us? You can subscribe on your favorite platform (Apple, Spotify, etc.) and listen to our regularly scheduled episodes (the last Friday of the month). We’ve covered topics ranging from interviewing skills for new grads to celebrating the retiring sages in the field with their reflections and advice. We’ve had some amazing guests join us in numerous fields from education to biotech, all available at ascls.org/offthebench. We’ve also used social media platforms to ask for listener submitted stories used in our “Recalibration” episodes.

Do you have a topic suggestion for us? Are you, or do you know someone who would make a great guest for the show? Do you want to increase your professional visibility by becoming a co-host on the podcast? Reach out to us at ascls@ascls.org. Together, we will continue to grow and support our vibrant medical laboratory science community.

Galina Dronova is a Clinical Laboratory Development Specialist at M Health Fairview in Minneapolis, Minnesota.