Susan Stalewski, MBA, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS-Wisconsin Past President
You know you’re from Wisconsin when: green and gold make up the bulk of your wardrobe; “bubbler” is part of your vocabulary; you know the difference between frozen custard and ice cream; 40 degrees is shorts and t-shirt weather in March; you always know what you’re having to eat on Friday night (fish fry); you can pronounce Waukesha, Kaukauna, Sheyboygan, and Oconomowoc; you make an Old Fashioned with brandy; you head “up north” for vacation; you use your hand as a map to tell someone where you’re from; AND, as a laboratory professional, you know that ASCLS-WI supports your professional practice and connection to like-minded peers.
ASCLS-Wisconsin has long-standing traditions and activities that support our professional society. In 2017-18, the ASCLS-WI Board of Directors initiated a strategic planning process targeted to support the ASCLS Strategic Map and priority pillars of Organizational Efficiency, Internal Communication, Advocacy, and Professional Promotion. In September 2017, the ASCLS-WI Board approved the following plan.
- Streamline processes and facilitate effective and sustainable initiatives.
- Raise the profile of ASCLS as the organization for laboratory professionals in Wisconsin through recognition of member leadership, service, and expertise.
- Expand opportunities for interested volunteers by following orderly committee leadership and member processes.
- Strengthen/support branch societies where needed.
- Facilitate volunteer satisfaction through clear communication, defined expectations, and recognition.
- Be open, inclusive, and welcoming.
We think these are worthy goals, and we can follow and revise the framework to facilitate a vibrant and sustainable constituent society.
We believe communication and recognition of leader and member expertise is essential to the satisfaction of our members. ASCLS-WI has made a focused effort to utilize the ASCLS CONNECT community as a means for providing information and as a document repository for our members. Once organized, it should assist in providing consistency of communication for leadership and others (Strategic Goal #1).
ASCLS-WI supports member participation at Annual Meetings, Legislative Symposia, Leadership Academies, and other national or regional events. We are pleased we had a delegation of 10 members at the 2018 ASCLS Annual Meeting; five of them were first-time attendees.
To facilitate wider participation, we established communication via the member community and provided clear guidelines for participation and financial support. Although these are small changes, previous feedback indicated members were confused about applying for participation and requesting reimbursement. Interest in participating as delegates supports the positive nature of this change and supports our strategic goal of being open, inclusive, and welcoming (Strategic Goal #6).
Membership is key for all of us. ASCLS-WI benefits from five MLS and 10 MLT programs, where program directors are active in mentoring students into our profession and professional society. Six of the education programs established institutional membership packages in 2017, and we hope we can move that to all 16!
How do we encourage student participation in ASCLS? Each year, at the ASCLS-WI Annual Convention, more than 150 students attend and participate in Student Bowl, student posters, and Student Forum activities. The April 2018 convention in Milwaukee included 22 Student Bowl teams and 89 poster entries representing 100 student participants.
In 2016, we established an electronic discount code, streamlining the process of converting student members (Developing Professionals) to First Year Professionals (Ascending Professionals). Ascending Professional members in Wisconsin are strong, but efforts to recruit new Professional members this year tell us we should refine our messaging and communications (Strategic Action #9). And we need to be more proactive in encouraging Ascending Professionals to renew their membership (Strategic Goals #1 and #3).
What is next for ASCLS-WI? We will continue to work on our strategic planning; continue to use the member community and other avenues of communication to demonstrate the relevancy and activity of our society; and systematically analyze the outcomes of supporting students, new professionals, and others in terms of member retention and leadership progression. Every improvement is a step forward.