Volume 35 Number 4 | August 2021

Debbie Shell, MS, MLS(ASCP)CMSM, DLM, ASCLS Government Affairs Committee Chair

If a genie were to grant the medical laboratory science profession one wish, speaking with a unified voice could be a solution to many of the issues our profession confronts today. Lack of recognition, short-staffing and burnout, and inadequate pay could all be more successfully addressed with a unified voice. ASCLS is a strong organization, and, according to some, has often done “the heavy lifting” in advocacy. But it is an organization of just 8,000 out of an estimated 350,000 laboratory professionals, most of whom are not members of any laboratory organization.

When members of ASCLS approach U.S. senators and representatives during the collaborative annual Laboratory Legislative Symposium, we do so as representatives of our organization. If we could approach those officials representing 20,000 or more members with a unified voice, the impact would be so much stronger.

When laboratorians debate on social media the qualifications that should be required to work in a clinical laboratory, setting high standards and speaking with a unified voice could resolve some of that conflict by educating the participants in the debate.

If every ASCLS member helped recruit one new member, we would double the size of our unified voice!

When legislation to institute state licensure (or even to revoke it) comes up in a state, we must be there to speak with a unified voice. If our profession does not join together to promote the profession and its value to healthcare by standing together for licensure, it will not happen for us.

How can we be more unified and be able to speak with a strong voice? ASCLS has traditionally worked collaboratively with a number of laboratory organizations, and this is one of the best ways we can find strength in a unified voice, especially when working with government agencies and Congress. Some have criticized laboratory organizations for not doing more to resolve the issues facing our profession and have even suggested that we unionize as a way to solve our issues.

At its current size, ASCLS can only do so much. A campaign asking every member to recruit one (yes, just one) new member would double the size of our unified voice! Let’s learn to speak with a large and strong unified voice by continuing to strengthen our collaborative efforts and by strengthening our unified voice with thousands of new members!

Debbie Shell is a Laboratory Instructor in the Medical Laboratory Science Program at Idaho State University.