Volume 37 Number 3 | June 2023

Kim Von Ahsen, MHA, MLS(ASCP)CM, SLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS President

Kim Von AhsenAs Dr. Seuss famously wrote in Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own and you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Oh, the places I have gone!

I am a firm believer that my laboratory career would not have had the pathway it has had if not for the professional growth afforded to me through being a member of ASCLS. The ways to grow professionally can happen throughout your career within the workplace, through volunteering in an organization such as ASCLS, or a combination of both.

Even though I spent the first part of my working life in a management position, it was not until I started my second career in the laboratory that I saw what being a professional meant. Being a professional meant to be a lifetime learner, and I needed to challenge myself professionally every chance I could. At work I would take on extra duties, but I was not seeing a ton of opportunities until I moved from a generalist into point of care.

I am positive that my promotion to point of care testing coordinator was related to having grown my skills and experience as an active member of my constituent society. Being the program chair for our annual meeting was a resume builder, as I was able to show experience in project management and collaboration—both of which are necessary to be successful in point of care.

During my time as a point of care testing coordinator, Roche Diagnostics asked me to speak at my first meeting in Fargo, North Dakota. ASCLS-ND was such a positive experience (I was a little star struck when Rick Panning told me I did an excellent job) and boosted my confidence that I could speak in front of a group—not just at conferences but to present within my organization as I had knowledge to share.

As my involvement and roles in ASCLS increased, one would think the role that stretched me the most in my professional growth was my current role, as ASCLS president, but the role actually came a few years before. I was honored to lead the 2015-16 ASCLS Leadership Academy class, and this opportunity was the scariest, most challenging, and one of my proudest roles. Without pushing myself to be what “I believed I wasn’t”—a teacher, a mentor, a leader—becoming president of ASCLS would never have been on the list of places I would go.

My final advice on growing professionally is to not let that voice in your head cast doubts or stop you from putting your feet in your shoes and stepping into a role in ASCLS that may be a bit scary, stretch you further than you anticipated, or challenge that imposter syndrome we all have.

“The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Kim Von Ahsen is the Laboratory Quality and Safety Specialist at UnityPoint – Health Des Moines, Iowa Methodist Medical Center, in Des Moines, Iowa.