Roslyn McQueen, PhD, CCRC, ASCLS Past President

It has been a distinct honor for me to serve as the 2018-19 president of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. I believe in ASCLS and recognize it as an essential organization that represents the medical laboratory profession. I can proudly say that I have maintained continuous membership in ASCLS for over 40 years. All my friends and colleagues know about ASCLS and that it is the organization that represents the laboratory profession and professional. I believe that we are each charged with being ambassadors for promoting our profession. Medical laboratory science is a profession, not a job.

I began the 2018-19 ASCLS year with the theme, “ASCEND – Exemplifying Sustainable Excellence in Laboratory Medicine.” Sustainable excellence requires that we identify problems and develop solutions for the challenges affecting the organization. To that aim, the letters in ASCEND represented the six target areas of focus during the year.

A = Association Wellness
S = Sustaining the Strategic Map
C = Communication
E = Educational Excellence
N = Networking
D = Diversity and Leadership Development

This has been a year of challenge, transformation, and possibilities. However, I feel we are on the right path to achieve the sustainable excellence of our Society. I am proud to report that ASCLS is alive and well, primarily due to the support and participation of the ASCLS Board of Directors, committee and forum chairs, constituent societies, and a dedicated staff. I am writing to report on the accomplishments we have achieved over the past year.

Changes and Challenges—Association Wellness
“Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of, and making choices toward, a healthy and fulfilling life.” This year, with approval of the Board of Directors, we established the Constituent Society Task Force (CSTF). This task force was formed to address the issues identified in the 2018 Root Cause Task Force report. For many years, ASCLS constituent society board reports expressed common concerns related to leadership at the local level. Issues identified by the Root Cause Task Force include societies with decreased numbers of members, inadequate student to professional transition, ineffective production of officers, and recycling of officers, ultimately leading to a lack of programming or development of perceived value of belonging.

The CSTF identified key performance indicators in five parameters that could effectively target a stratified approach to interventions in struggling constituent societies:

  • Financial health
  • Programs and service delivery (e.g., continuing education)
  • Volunteer resources
  • Outreach and advocacy
  • Governance

A preliminary survey was conducted of five states and data presented at the 2019 March Interim Board Meeting. The survey has been refined and will be submitted to all constituent societies this fall to assess overall association wellness. Ultimately, we want to first identify the states experiencing the more significant problems, and then develop an action plan to address and/or solve the problems. We hope to meet these societies where they are and bring the support, leadership development, and mentoring so badly needed and assist them in preparing and training future leaders.

ASCLS Annual Meeting. The foremost major change and challenge facing ASCLS last year was planning and preparing for the 2019 ASCLS Annual Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. As stated previously, circumstances forced ASCLS to dissociate from the AACC Scientific Expo. Yet we optimistically faced this as an opportunity, rather than as an obstacle. Fortunately, we were able to build a partnership with the Association of Genetic Technologists (AGT), and together we developed the first joint meeting between ASCLS and AGT. We are confident this meeting will grow to unparalleled dimensions to meet the needs of our members, sponsors, and industry partners.

Sustaining the Strategic Map
The Strategic Map provides the focus and direction for ASCLS committees and forums to pursue their specific charges throughout the year. I am pleased that 100 percent of our committees are functioning, engaged, and reporting as charged.

Our governing documents require constant review and evaluation. During the year, the Position Descriptions, Standard Operating Procedures, and Bylaws were updated and assessed for conformity after the action of the 2018 House of Delegates.

Communication
An essential responsibility of our organization is to provide timely, accurate, and essential communication to keep our members informed and involved. We have a diverse membership that requires various forms and methods of communication. Throughout the year, ASCLS has been working hard to enhance and expand modes of communication. As a result, I have observed a tremendous improvement in the level and scope of communication within the organization.

Society News Now. One of my visions was to resume Society News Now, initiated under Susie Zanto’s administration. This was an online communication tool to provide an update to members on the “behind the scenes” activities of ASCLS, including the work of our national committees, important governance information, and other issues of interest to our members. To date, ASCLS has published nine issues of the Society News Now e-newsletter.

ASCLS Today. Cheryl Caskey continues to be the backbone of the ASCLS Today newsletter, which is considered an invaluable membership asset. This year we published seven issues of ASCLS Today and Editor Cheryl Caskey is to be commended.

Marketing and Communications Committee. One of my first official duties as president was to appoint members to the newly established Marketing and Communications Committee. Kyle Riding and Rebecca Rogers served as chair and vice chair, respectively. This committee has been phenomenal and an integral part of furthering the level and quality of communication to our members.

Clinical Laboratory Science. Editor Perry Scanlon and Jim Flanigan have worked continuously with various agencies and platforms to bring this journal back. All articles have been published ahead of print, and issues are being composited. The new website allows data to be deposited in various indexes and more than 1,000 readers are visiting each month.

Educational Excellence
ASCLS prides itself on being a leader in providing quality continuing education for laboratory professionals. The continuing education that ASCLS provides through our national, regional, and constituent society meetings is exceptional. Our P.A.C.E.® program is recognized as the premier system for maintaining high standards of program quality and professional acceptability, and over 200 providers enrolled numerous events during 2018-19.

Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference (CLEC). I had the opportunity to attend my first Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference (CLEC). It was held February 21-23 in Baltimore, and in spite of inclement weather, there were over 500 in attendance. CLEC provides an opportunity to learn new skills and better understand the issues that educators face on a daily basis. Concurrent sessions presented subject matter by experts in the areas of education, certification, and accreditation. Updates by the ASCP Board of Governors and NAACLS provided perspectives for ensuring we have a competent stream of professionals entering the profession. I left the conference feeling recharged, motivated, and inspired.

Constituent Societies’ Annual Meetings. I presented hematology lectures and ASCLS update messages this year at various constituent society annual meetings. I am pleased to report the vast majority of our societies present one-, two-, or three-day annual meetings. These state meetings allow our members to interact with experts in the field or to observe and discuss new products with vendors, experience networking opportunities, and have fun with colleagues. I want to thank all the volunteers who helped ASCLS constituent societies provide annual scientific meetings.

Increasing our Network within the Scientific Associations
Networking continues to provide an opportunity to meet likeminded members from all avenues of our profession. Working interprofessionally, we will improve diagnosis, treatment, disease prevention, and patient safety. Our efforts with the Legislative Symposium, Choosing Wisely, and representation on other allied health agencies are indications of such efforts.

Legislative Symposium. Networking on governance issues with other health profession organizations is essential to make a difference in the political arena. The 2019 Legislative Symposium was well attended with 130 attendees representing the American Medical Technologists (AMT), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), Association of Genetic Technologists (AGT), Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA), and National Society for Histotechnology (NSH). Workforce shortage remains a common topic for all laboratory professionals.

Choosing Wisely Task Force. The Choosing Wisely Task Force, under the leadership of George Fritsma, presented several recommendations to the ASCLS board to approve to be submitted to the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) for consideration. Testing considerations submitted included:

  • Ferritin: “Avoid using hemoglobin to screen for iron deficiency. Instead use ferritin,” by Dr. Esani.
  • PT and PTT: “Avoid routine prothrombin time (PT) and partial thromboplastin time (PTT, APTT) preoperative screens on unselected patients,” by Professors Fritsma and Miller.
  • RBC Transfusion: “Do not transfuse red blood cells for expansion of circulatory volume unless necessary for patient cases with severe hemorrhage,” by Professor Bostic.
  • “Do not order rapid multiplex molecular assays for microbial infections unless the assays will impact patient management decisions,” Dr. Ebomoyi.
  • “Avoid routine blood typing and screening for low risk surgeries without a clinical indication,” Miller and Fritsma developed.

Representation to other Allied Healthcare Organizations. I truly appreciate the dedication of the ASCLS members who have been appointed to represent our Society on the boards of various organizations. I want to highlight activities of a few of them.

Coalition to Improve Diagnosis: In September 2018, Patient Safety Committee Chair Lezlee Koch championed the effort for ASCLS to become a member organization of the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis. This coalition is a collaboration of more than 50 leading healthcare organizations focused on ensuring that diagnoses are accurate, communicated, and timely. Brandy Gunsolus is our appointed representative.

Coordinating Council for the Clinical Laboratory Workforce (CCCLW): Susie Zanto is the ASCLS representative to CCCLW. A major project this year was the development of a Laboratory Science Careers website, which launched in early December 2018. This was a major project, and the design team included ASCLS members Susie Zanto, Joshua Cannon, and Lezlee Koch, with help from Jim Flanigan and the Orange Wave website contractor. Please visit this website and share it with others.

Health Professions Network (HPN): Daniel Olson has represented ASCLS at the HPN Board of Directors and was elected January 1, as the HPN president. Congratulations, Dan. The HPN continues working to implement a two-pronged consumer awareness campaign: first, to create awareness of the health professions and the career opportunities in these fields; second, to address more fundamental issues, such as lack of clinical sites, shortage of faculty, inadequate program funding, and issues with credentialing and licensure.

Additionally, ASCLS continues to be prominent representatives and take full advantage of our affiliations with NAACLS and the Board of Certification. NAACLS is also seeking membership with the Health Professions Accreditors Collaborative (HPAC), which serves as a platform for discussion, proactive problem solving, and sharing among health professions accreditors.

Diversity and Leadership Development
What makes ASCLS great is the hard-working, committed, and enthusiastic people who volunteer their time and expertise on behalf of our Society. We are a diverse, grassroots, volunteer organization with members who possess different skill sets, abilities, and experiences. But the common element among all members is that we are clinical laboratory scientists, trained, educated, and certified to render service in the healthcare arena

The Diversity Advocacy Council is heralded for championing the causes of our diverse membership. Their newsletter articles are timely, perceptive, and insightful for the diverse patient population we encounter. Last year, we updated the ASCLS motto to include diversity language.

ASCLS is an inclusive, culturally relevant community of people acknowledging their differences and unique characteristics; it is an organization where all persons can engage and participate in a meaningful way empowering everyone to grow and learn.

Sustaining Membership. A significant membership change this year was the introduction of Sustaining Membership. Sustaining Membership is a status, not a class or type of membership. It is an added option to ASCLS memberships for individuals with a desire to provide additional financial support for the Society’s work and mission. Sustaining Members are entitled to additional benefits that visibly recognize Sustaining Membership status and provide minor amenities. This benefit does not impact voting, holding office, or serving in any formal capacity for the Society.

Leadership Academy. The Leadership Academy was on hiatus this year. A Leadership Academy Task Force (LATF) evaluated the national Leadership Academy to determine how it fits in with our overall leadership development needs. Kathy Doig and Alice Hawley served as co-chairs. The LATF made several extensive recommendations that were approved at the 2018 Fall Board Meeting. The underlying theme was the national Leadership Academy should be a more advanced academy; essentially an executive leadership academy that is applicable to the workplace and the profession, not just ASCLS. It should be unique, compared to regional and state academies. This spring the 2019-20 Leadership Academy class was selected and met for the first time at the Joint Annual Meeting in June.

Thank You
In conclusion, my year as ASCLS president has been an extremely rewarding and gratifying experience. I am grateful to the many volunteers that said “yes” to the profession when called upon to serve on committees and forums.

Medical laboratory science is a profession, not a job. The difference between having a JOB vs having a PROFESSION is largely one of education, attitude, ethics, and commitment. Webster defines profession as “a calling requiring specialized knowledge, requiring long academic preparation, usually involving mental rather, than manual work, and conforming to a code of ethics.”

I have worked to perpetuate the profession, empower the membership, mentor the ascending and developing professionals, and instill a philosophy of sustainable excellence about the worth and necessity of our ASCLS membership. I have been encouraged by our members’ commitment to ASCLS.

I have also had a phenomenal Board of Directors who are dedicated and committed to this organization. Everyone without exception has given tirelessly of their time and talents in their respective positions to the advancement of this Society. I am encouraged by the true loyalty, devotion, and allegiance of our ASCLS members who continue to volunteer to work on committees/forums, task forces, and other special projects. Thank you for what you have done and what you continue to do for this organization. I pledge my support and assistance to President Cindy Johnson in her presidential year, and I look forward to joining the ranks of the ASCLS past presidents.

Roslyn McQueen is a research doctor at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan.