Volume 37 Number 3 | June 2023
Thao Vu, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM
Having graduated from The Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) New Orleans Clinical Laboratory Sciences Program in May 2013, I was excited to begin my next chapter as a medical laboratory sciences educator at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in August 2022. As a new educator, one of my goals is to deliver an accessible and approachable learning experience for students of varying ages and backgrounds. I knew that one of the best ways to learn is through my fellow peers and the educational veterans that came before me. The Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference (CLEC) offered that excellent opportunity for my professional growth.
CLEC 2023 was my first national conference as a new MLS educator. Interestingly, it was held in New Orleans where I first began my MLS journey at my alma mater. I returned to my home city bright eyed and curious, as I did on my first day at LSUHSC. My desire to learn has never changed. During this conference, I hoped to take back new information that I could use to help enhance my students’ learning experience. To say the least, CLEC offered a plethora of seminars centered on medical laboratory education.
I made sure to attend the New Educator Workshop (NEW) on the first official day. Surprisingly, there were both new and experienced educators sitting in the audience. With the useful information presented by three MLS veteran educators—Dr. Deborah Josko, Dr. Barbara Kraj, and Ms. DeAnne Maxwell—I can clearly understand the reason. They covered topics about documentation, communication, and multi-generational students. For example, Dr. Josko offered her own experience when thorough student documentation helped to successfully defend against a lawsuit. However, the documentation goes beyond students. She addressed documentation for oneself to keep for promotion and tenure and documentation for the laboratory program. Dr. Kraj spoke about different types of communication styles and communication barriers, and Ms. Maxwell gave a fun perspective on different generational learners.
Beyond NEW, there were many topics centered on common educational challenges that everyone could relate to and desired to solve, such as “Teaching Students who Haven’t Learned How to Learn: A Modern-Day Approach to Teaching the ‘Post-Pandemic’ MLS Student,” by Mattie Brechbiel, Liliane Nelson, and Dana Vaughan. There were a mix of seriousness and lightheartedness with topics such as, “Medical Laboratory Perspectives on Academic Integrity,” by Andrea Jensen, and “Verbal to Visual: Creating Graphic Organizers and Sketch Notes to Improve Student Learning Outcomes,” by Dr. Phyllis Ingham and Ms. Leslie Cooper. I appreciated the detailed presentation from the former and delighted in drawing out how to make toast in the latter session. And, if you love numbers as Dr. Nathan Johnson does, you would have enjoyed sitting in the presentation, “Focus on Outcomes.”
Not only was it great to listen to the presenters speak, but I also immensely enjoyed hearing others’ input during the Q&A afterwards. I felt a sense of unity when people shared their own personal experiences and reflections on the various subjects. Overall, there were many great choices of educational sessions to choose from.
Beyond the educational sessions, there were different vendor booths to visit. It was great to see the current books and the laboratory-centered technologies available. There were open opportunities for networking and food sprinkled throughout the conference. Most notably, we were able to relish in a special dinner with a customizable Belgian waffle dessert to celebrate NAACLS 50th anniversary. The sentimental highlight of this experience was meeting some of my previous LSUHSC professors again. I want to emphasize that they are folks that I highly respect. These are individuals who have devoted their entire lives for the MLS profession. Together, they are known for their purple and gold clinical laboratory sciences review book. To see them at CLEC, I came full circle—the student has become a teacher. My hope is to make meaningful contributions to the field as they have done.
In summary, CLEC was certainly worthwhile for me, and I hope to have the chance to attend the conference every year. It was a wonderful experience to sit in a sea of like-minded and passionate educators. I will never forget CLEC 2023 in New Orleans and meeting several of my previous LSUHSC professors again. The educational sessions were all fantastic, and there were many takeaways from each one that I sat in. I am truly thankful for this opportunity to learn from others, and I intend to apply the newfound knowledge to benefit my students.
Thao Vu is Assistant Professor for the Department of Laboratory Sciences at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Author Thao Vu attended the New Educator Workshop during the 2023 Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference where DeAnne Maxwell gave a fun perspective on different generational learners.
“It was a wonderful experience to sit in a sea of like-minded and passionate educators.”