Jessica Lawless, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS Ascending Professionals Forum Vice Chair
|Jessica Lawless on Capitol Hill to meet with her congressional representatives during the 2019 Legislative Symposium.|
In March 2019 I attended my first Laboratory Legislative Symposium. I had been looking forward to this meeting since I joined ASCLS as a student more than two years ago. I have been involved in the Government Affairs Committee as an interested observer for almost a year and was excited to finally participate in the preparation day and visit Capitol Hill to talk to senators, representatives, or their staff.
We discussed three important and impactful points with our congresspeople’s staff. We presented the need for regulation of laboratory-developed testing; the impact of the national workforce shortages—along with a draft bill to help fund MLS programs to increase exposure and interest; and the continued need to revise the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) pricing schedule. All issues were received well by the staff members, and it was a great experience talking with them about the needs of the laboratory.
“I think that my biggest take away from this event is the feeling of being a part of the bigger picture. It is not only about my local lab, my state society, or ASCLS nationally. It is about the LABORATORY and our roles in patient care.”
I learned a great deal during the preparation day about our three topics as well as other industry issues. It was enjoyable being in a room with several laboratory-related professional societies. I was ignorant to the fact that there were so many ways to get involved in the laboratory profession. I was fascinated to see how everyone tackled the issues at hand, and how they were receptive to the same issues that ASCLS pursues. I met some great laboratorians and even got to meet my ASCLS mentor face-to-face for the first time!
I think that my biggest take away from this event is the feeling of being a part of the bigger picture. It is not only about my local lab, my state society, or ASCLS nationally. It is about the LABORATORY and our roles in patient care. It was amazing to see societies, that are not always in agreement on issues, work together and speak to Congress with one voice. It was inspiring to see how many people gave up their time and money to participate in such an important event. We are our own advocates, and it was powerful to hear other experts in this field speak so passionately about our role on the healthcare team. I loved being a part of something bigger than myself. It was empowering to have words and research and documentation to present that supported our roles and our views and our needs.
I will remember my first Legislative Symposium as an educational and eye-opening event that put a new perspective on the difference we can make when we band together for a common cause. I absorbed so much information and loved speaking about that knowledge to Congressional staff, who were not always familiar with our role as laboratory professionals. I value the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than my small laboratory world and look forward to next year’s symposium. I hope to continue my involvement with the national initiative to educate and advocate for the laboratory on Capitol Hill.
Jessica Lawless is a PRN generalist in the trauma hospital in Boise, Idaho.