Courtney Bennetts, ASCLS Region IX Student Representative
Genaro Hernandez, Jr., MLT(ASCP), ASCLS Oregon Student Representative Region IX

ASCLS Region IX members gathered at the 2018 ASCLS Annual Meeting in Chicago.

ASCLS invests significant resources in student development to provide opportunities that can help them transition into highly qualified and successful professionals. This article details specific resources for students and shares how attending the ASCLS Annual Meeting, among other events, can help students develop professionally.

Developing Professional Membership Benefits
The ASCLS student membership is known as the Developing Professional membership. For a mere $24 (plus state dues) a student gets access to an enormous array of resources. Students are eligible for scholarships, travel grants, newsletters, discussion boards, student-centered activities, and a formal mentorship program.

Students can also volunteer at the local, state, and national level. By volunteering—even a little—students can begin to grow their support network, learn about opportunities (e.g., scholarships), and develop positive relationships with others who may provide a strong reference for a future application (e.g., a travel grant or job).

The best time to get involved is while we’re students, because we can follow in the footsteps of our current leaders to develop new innovative ideas on how to advocate for our field.

Genaro Hernandez, Jr., received the 2018 Diversity Advocacy Council Travel Grant and attended the 2018 ASCLS Annual Meeting in Chicago.

One Student’s Annual Meeting Experience
Genaro Hernandez, Jr., is a recent graduate and medical laboratory technician. He has volunteered in local and state ASCLS leadership positions, has attended several ASCLS meetings, and earned ASCLS scholarships and travel grants. He attended the 2018 ASCLS Annual Meeting in Chicago, and his experience there demonstrates the many benefits to students:

I am grateful to have attended the 2018 ASCLS Annual Meeting in Chicago. I truly enjoyed my experience and I hope to attend future Meetings. Here are some of my most memorable experiences from the meeting.

I met Daniel Haun, clinical instructor at Louisiana State University. He gave a fascinating presentation on virtual microscopy, which allows future medical laboratory techs to receive microscopy training completely online. Interestingly, instead of only providing a static image, techs are presented with a scannable image and context. Instructor Haun generates his own data using a customized microscope to collect images in the x, y, and z planes.

This was the first time I saw a medical laboratory tech create his own data. This was especially exciting to me because of my computer science background. I would like to work with medical laboratory data but most of the data is difficult to obtain. They are usually proprietary and/or contain personally identifiable information. Instructor Haun and I have been in contact since the Annual Meeting and he is helping me reconstruct his microscope, so I can generate my own images to work with. His presentation has encouraged me to use my interdisciplinary background and be attentive to potential informatic projects in my workplace.

Clarence Harris, head of international sales at US Bank, gave a powerful presentation on diversity and why it matters. Mr. Harris revealed that he was grateful for the opportunity to speak to us because he was indebted to the techs who provided STAT results when his wife was diagnosed with brain cancer. Those results were essential to her treatment.

He shared several important concepts. First, diversity without inclusion can be detrimental to an organization. Second, diversity and inclusion are essential for new ideas to surface. Third, those new ideas can help an organization to flourish. He noted that organizations must be open to change, or they will lose opportunities to remain viable. Mr. Harris provided real life examples of successful companies that followed these principles and unsuccessful companies that did not.

I was fortunate to receive a Diversity Advocacy Council (DAC) Travel Grant that allowed me to attend the Annual Meeting. I attended the DAC Meeting and listened while the council members earnestly discussed the delicate issue of how to manage and interpret transgender laboratory results. Attending the DAC Meeting prepared me to best serve transgender patients.

During the meeting, I asked my more experienced colleagues to recommend resources for developing leadership skills and attaining career goals. ASCLS Past President Debra Rodahl mentioned The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a book I have enjoyed since the meeting. Clarence Harris suggested learning from other successful people such as Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, and Brian Tracy. These interactions have been helpful and have led me to explore additional related books and resources.

The afore mentioned are among my most memorable experiences from the 2018 ASCLS Annual Meeting—there are many more. I am proud to be a member of ASCLS and I am grateful for all the members who have supported my professional development. My goal is to remain active in ASCLS by continuing to serve in leadership roles. I look forward to the next Annual Meeting.

Opportunities for Students Close to Home
Students do not need to travel far to participate in ASCLS since local and state activities exist. These orchestrated events are crucial for networking and allow members of nearby communities to come together as one.

The future of our profession and its voice are the reasons we find it important to attend and volunteer. We want students to reach out, research, and find out when they can attend the events that have shaped so many of us into leaders. We, as developing professionals, want to advocate for students and motivate others to engage in our organization to bring laboratory professionals together on all levels for future generations.

Given the abundant opportunities for students to develop as professionals and leaders in ASCLS, we encourage all medical laboratory students to participate in the organization at any level they can. They will always find a knowledgeable long-term member willing to offer advice and support. If we can inspire and motivate students to take the step and pursue a position, then we have completed our mission.

Thank you, ASCLS!

Courtney Bennetts is a student in the University of Alaska Anchorage Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science/Research and Allied Professions Program in Anchorage. Genaro Hernandez, Jr., is a medical laboratory technician at Adventist Health in Portland, Oregon.