Suzanne Campbell, PhD, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS Past President
ASCLS leaders move the Society forward based on direction from our strategic map. Our unique critical objective defines the overall focus on ASCLS and is supported by six pillars - marketing, membership, organization efficiency and internal communications, advocacy and professional promotion, collaboration, and education. The ASCLS Board of Directors have identified the first two as the highest priority.
The marketing pillar focuses on building the ASCLS brand, demonstrating the value of ASCLS, networking and leveraging social media, and utilizing the influence of medical laboratory science educators. In August, ASCLS launched the new logo, went live with the new website, and promoted the use of the member communities. Our new logo has a fresh, modern look while retaining the interlocking triangles representing the linkage between state, regional and national voices. The grassroots voice of our state constituent society members remains a vital component of our organization. To further our efforts, states join together for regional events in our need to unify those voices at the national level.
The new website is refreshing and provides numerous resources to both members and non-members. Whether you are searching for continuing education offerings or leadership resources or posting a question in the open forum, navigation on the website is more user-friendly. The use of the member communities will enable you to join a group that shares your common interests, i.e. state constituent society, scientific assembly, or standing committees. The member communities also allow you to message a colleague through the “connect” feature.
Marketing and membership are interdependent.
In the past, we have attempted to develop our “30 second elevator speech” to support why one should be a member of ASCLS. For those of us that are already members, we answer this question with a variety of responses - networking, involvement, empowerment, passion, voice, recognition, and mentorship – to name a few. Marketing the value of being an ASCLS member is the responsibility of each of us. While we can implement a variety of marketing strategies, word of mouth and reaching out to non-members remains an effective way to promote the value of belonging to ASCLS. When was the last time you encouraged a laboratory professional to become an ASCLS member?
Not only do we need to promote the benefits of being a member of a professional organization, but we should enumerate the many aspects that make ASCLS unique and thus the premier organization for laboratory professionals. Our unique offerings include: state and local governance/structure, longevity and financial stability of the organization, student and new professionals forums, importance of member voices, our ASCLS family connection, and representation of all disciplines at all levels of the career ladder including our educators. Identifying the membership benefits aids in broadening our network and social media connections.
Purposefully increasing our networking opportunities and leveraging social media will result in a more visible ASCLS brand. Attending meetings at the state, regional, and national levels provide invaluable networking opportunities with colleagues and industry representatives. Networking opportunities also exist for ASCLS to expand our connection with other laboratory organizations.
Social media is becoming a very important medium for ASCLS. An example of a highly successful social media post was the request to sign the petition opposing the CMS decision to recognize a degree in nursing as a biological science degree thus allowing nurses to act as laboratory directors. Within 48 hours, this ASCLS Facebook post reached over 56,000 people and had almost 500 shares. We are passionate about decisions that negatively impact our profession! You can support these efforts by liking the ASCLS Facebook page and sharing to your personal page. When was the last time you reviewed your friends list and thought about how many of your Facebook friends are also your professional colleagues? For me, it’s the majority of my Facebook friends.
When you review that friends list, are any of them your previous medical laboratory science professors? The experience of successfully completing and graduating from a medical laboratory science program (at any academic level) is a challenge. The role that our professors played in our success was vital to our ability to gain the required cognitive knowledge and level of technical competency. Our professors influenced many factors of our lives while we were earning our degrees – understanding difficult concepts, correlating results to clinical significance, performing procedures, as well as improving our study and time management skills. Many of those same individuals were actively involved in ASCLS and strongly encouraged ASCLS student members.
If you are an educator and a member of ASCLS, you possess the ability to influence students to become members and to renew their membership as a new professional. To market the value of ASCLS, you are vital in promoting the importance of belonging to a professional organization. Being a student member of ASCLS offers the opportunity to network with colleagues across the nation, represent the student view as a committee member, develop leadership skills, and participate in advocacy for clinical laboratory issues. ASCLS has many resources available to educators to assist with student recruitment and promotion of the profession as a career choice.
As active members of ASCLS, we must build the ASCLS brand recognition, promote the value of membership, grow and strengthen the organizational network as well as our individual networks, leverage social media to build one voice, one vision, and partner with our educators to influence student membership.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014 there were 328,200 jobs as medical laboratory technologists and technicians with an anticipated job outlook of 16% growth through 2024. This is a much faster than average growth for all occupations. The average annual membership for ASCLS is around 9,000. How do we reach out and engage the vast number of medical laboratory professionals who are not members?
When the 2016 ASCLS Board of Directors were asked to list the benefits of being a member of ASCLS they identified the following: networking with peers, defining our scope of practice, being the voice of young members, having leadership opportunities, being involved as a student, and receiving discounted conference fees. Furthermore, when asked why they are a member, they responded with empowerment, passion for the profession, voice and recognition, mentorship, networking, and involvement.
In her book The Art of Membership, Sheri Jacobs states, “The more a member is engaged, the more likely they will renew if highly satisfied.” As a grassroots organization, ASCLS members often begin their engagement at the local chapter or the state constituent society level. Opportunities at the state level mirror those at the regional and national levels. Annual continuing education programs offer involvement opportunities for program, social, and facilities committee members. These examples may require one to three years of commitment depending on the term of the position.
However, some of our members may be looking for short term micro-volunteering opportunities. Micro-volunteering activities allow members to be engaged for a few hours or a few days. Such activities include handing out programs for awards ceremonies, moderating a continuing education session, compiling packets for annual meetings, and assisting with conference registration. What other short time volunteering opportunities do you provide to engage your members? This is an excellent strategy to begin a relationship between members and their commitment to our professional organization.
Joe Rominiecki, author of Why Engagement Must be Built into the Member Experience, suggests three perspectives with which to obtain engagement answers – a call to action, a community to join, and a new experience. He states, “A stronger focus on engagement, activity, involvement, and mission at the recruitment stage will position membership as a call to action.” The human connection made through involvement is a major factor in member retention. It is in our best interest to ensure members are active participants and are provided with multiple opportunities to build and nurture those connections. This concept is supported by the feeling of a professional family within ASCLS that is not found in other medical laboratory organizations.
One aspect of being a professional is belonging to one’s professional organization. Your professional organization should be the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science! I challenge you to reach out to your non-member colleagues and share with them the reasons you belong to ASCLS. I challenge you to invite a non-member to an ASCLS sponsored event. I challenge you to invite a non-engaged member to become engaged. Creating a thriving ASCLS for the future requires a highly-engaged membership with a sense of collective responsibility for our success.