Suzanne Campbell, PhD, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS Past President
Priority Pillar: Organizational Efficiency and Internal Communication
As I continue to offer information related to the ASCLS Strategic Map, our next pillar is organizational efficiency and internal communication. Supporting this pillar are five foci:
- Identify and disseminate leadership best practices
- Ensure a strong culture of mentorship and integrate into continuing education programs
- Foster systems that support a culture of accountability
- Develop and maintain data-driven management platforms to evaluate and manage ASCLS activities
- Increase engagement between national, regional, and states
Have you ever thought, “there’s got to be a better way to do this!” but don’t have time to improve the project or task at hand so you continue to maintain the status quo. Have you ever wondered how other regions or constituent state societies conduct their elections, develop policy and procedure, or continually offer a very successful annual continuing education meeting? Wouldn’t placing these resources in an accessible repository be invaluable? Opportunities to review and enhance our organizational efficiency abound. During her tenure as a Region VI Council Leader, Kim Von Ahsen established an online repository for all the Region VI documents. We had finally moved into the digital age and there would be no more giving the next person a box of file folders or a flash drive.
In September 2016, I had a conversation with Jim Flanigan that prompted a flurry of brainstorming related to resource and document needs. Jim identified two different tools - resource library and official governance document repository. Jim’s vision of the resource library includes editable versions and samples of key documents the constituent societies should have as well as pertinent policies. These resources would be searchable, downloadable, and editable. Other tools could include best practices for meetings and other professional activities.
The official governance document repository would be a location where ASCLS would maintain, on behalf of the constituent societies, the key governing documents. Examples of these documents are the articles of incorporation, bylaws and policies or standard operational procedures. In the case of a lack of leadership transition, the documents would still be accessible.
In addition to ease of access of resources and documents, ASCLS has invested numerous volunteer hours to develop resources and curriculum for leadership development. The Leadership Development Committee remains a vital entity within the organization. The Leadership Academy continues to offer formal education in leadership to those selected for this coveted experience. Each Leadership Academy class develops outstanding resources and materials that can be utilized at the regional and state level. These resources are available through the ASCLS website.
Under the direction of past-president Barbara Snyderman, Stephanie Noblit accepted the charge to develop a formal mentoring program. Ms. Noblit’s report at the 2016 ASCLS Annual Meeting clearly indicated the mentoring was beneficial and rewarding for both the mentor and mentee. The Board of Directors encouraged the mentoring program to continue for another year. We will evaluate the success of the initiative and consider making this a permanent standing committee within the organization. The need for “growing our own leaders” through the academy and purposeful mentoring has also been supported by offering related continuing education sessions at the Annual Meeting.
We pride ourselves on being the premier peer organization with a strong grassroots foundation and thus we need to be accountable. Our accountability is to our medical laboratory profession, to the patients that we serve, to the other members of the healthcare team, as well as to ourselves. It is our responsibility to recruit and retain ASCLS members. We can’t look to someone else to assume that role. It is our duty to defend our scope of practice. This was fully demonstrated when ASCLS members alerted the Veteran’s Administration to problems with the agency’s ruling to expand the authority of advanced practice registered nurses. Through our unified efforts, the language was adjusted to better protect the patients while expanding access to healthcare for our veterans. Furthermore, the “crucial role” of laboratorians in providing care to VA patients was lauded. We must remain vigilant in the protection of our scope of practice for medical laboratory science.
I hope that you participated in the call to volunteer for the 2017-2018 year. If so, you experienced the new volunteer application process. While we are still working through a few things, overall, we are very pleased with the ease of this process. Your information will be maintained throughout the year so with any subsequent opportunities for involvement, the ASCLS leadership can review the volunteer pool to identify prospective candidates. As we enhance the data entry methods, you will find it easier to enter your volunteer, presentation, and publication activities as well.
The conversion of CACMLE self-study courses to a new learning management system has also proved successful. I attended the first session of the Microbiology Grand Round Series. Lynne Garcia, world renowned parasitology expert, provided an outstanding diagnostic medical parasitology update. The offering of this series and many more to come will enhance the continuing education offerings by ASCLS.
As an organization that is comprised of state, regional, and national levels, it is sometimes easy to focus our efforts at one level. Occasionally, it seems that state constituent societies function independently. However, we must ensure resources, information, and member engagement crosses all levels within the organization. By increasing engagement across the organization, we will strengthen our voice for the medical laboratory professional. We will enhance our value as an organization to which one should belong. We will unify our voice as we advocate for recognition of our vital role in providing safe and efficient patient care.
I encourage you to check out the leadership and mentoring resources available to ASCLS members. Become one of the mentors to assist in growing our own ASCLS leaders! I implore you to volunteer at the state, regional, or national level. There is a variety of opportunities to fit anyone’s busy lifestyle. I applaud you when you respond to a call for action to protect our scope of practice. Without your assistance in contacting your representatives and disseminating the information, we may not have achieved our goal. Together, we will MOVE ASCLS FORWARD.
Priority Pillar: Advocacy and Professional Promotion
I often have the privilege of speaking to local civic groups about my role at Seward County Community College. As Dean of Allied Health and a female with a background in healthcare, it is often assumed I am a registered nurse. To offer a bit of humor to the situation, I tell them I don’t start IVs nor do I insert urinary catheters. However, I will collect your blood specimen and analyze it to provide the physician with their cardiac enzyme and prostate specific antigen levels. I will perform compatibility testing to ensure that donor blood units are compatible with their own. I tell them - I am a medical laboratory scientist!
How many times have you been asked where you work or what you do? I hope you take pride in the role we serve as part of the healthcare team. I hope you share your educational background and how our expertise aids the physician in making a diagnosis. As we continue to discuss the priority pillars of the ASCLS strategy map, I trust that you actively promote YOUR profession.
A few of my groups on Facebook focus on the medical laboratory profession. At times, individuals share situations expressing frustration with other healthcare professionals when they don’t understand medical laboratory science. When I read such posts, I always think, “Did that individual take advantage of the teachable moment?” We don’t have expertise in their respective disciplines so why should we expect that they know ours? In many medical facilities, specimens are collected by the nursing staff. Have those individuals been formally trained? Do they understand about draw order and a short draw? Probably not and we shouldn’t expect them to. This is a prime opportunity to collaborate between departments, to encourage others to visit the laboratory so we can demonstrate our role in quality patient care, and to educate our team members on the proper specimen collection procedure.
While each of us has a responsibility to promote our profession, the ASCLS Promotion of the Profession Committee consists of volunteers who have been appointed and approved by the Board of Directors to create opportunities to recognize medical laboratory science. The charges of this committee are broad:
- Continue to develop and update promotional tools and resources available through ASCLS and publicize their availability in ASCLS Today, mailing lists, the ASCLS website, and social media as appropriate
- Collaborate with other clinical laboratory organizations to demonstrate the value of the profession to ourselves, other healthcare professions, and to the general public
- Promote consumer advocacy among members to demonstrate the value of the clinical laboratory profession to the general public
- Work with the Director of Professional Development and Project Management to promote ASCLS materials for Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (MLPW) and provide resources for members with MLPW activities
- Coordinate the promotion of the profession fundraising competition and coordinate with the Awards Committee on the presentation of awards at the ASCLS Annual Meeting
- Develop a fundraising campaign for an appropriate charitable organization to be held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting
- Collaborate with other ASCLS committees/forums and collaborate to assist with and identify endeavors that require promotional activities
While it can be difficult to separate advocacy from professional promotion, for the purpose of this discussion, I define advocacy as our role in educating those in various government positions about the medical laboratory profession. As an organization, we have long supported our grassroots voice which becomes stronger and unified through our Government Affairs Committee and the Political Action Committee. Since 1989, ASCLS has collaborated with other laboratory organizations to maximize our efforts related to federal legislative and regulatory advocacy. Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), Association of Genetic Technologists (AGT), American Medical Technologists (AMT), and the National Society for Histotechnology (NSH) will join ASCLS for the 2018 Legislative Symposium in Washington, D.C. Participants are provided with updates on the current status of federal rulings that impact the clinical laboratory. Regulations discussed often focus on the laboratory workforce shortage and the clinical laboratory fee schedule. While things are changing daily, it is likely that the 2018 discussion will include the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) ruling from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMA). The implementation of this ruling states that laboratories “are required to report private payor rate and volume data” if they meet certain criteria.1 Legislative Symposium activities include information on lobbying and practicing the talking points that will be discussed on day two which culminates with ASCLS members making visits on Capitol Hill.
Many of you will remember the passionate efforts by ASCLS members to defeat the Medicare Competitive Laboratory Bidding Project. If this ruling had been allowed to take effect, laboratory reimbursement would have been adversely affected. In the 2008 Washington Beat section of Clinical Laboratory Science, Paula Garrott encouraged us “to contact their members of Congress to educate them regarding the potential impact of competitive bidding for laboratory services on our ability to provide timely and high-quality laboratory testing and diagnostic information.”2 We continue to remain vigilant regarding decisions that negatively impact the clinical laboratory. Recently, you were asked to join efforts to alert the Veterans Administration to problems with a ruling that would have allowed certified nurse practitioners to order, perform, or supervise laboratory studies. In December 2016, Jim Flanigan, ASCLS Executive Vice President, notified the membership of the following, “We have successfully convinced the VA to adjust the language to better protect patients while expanding access to care for our nation’s veterans. Further, the VA calls out the “crucial role” laboratorians play in the care of VA patients.”3 As a professional and a member of OUR professional organization, it is imperative that we remain informed about topics that influence our ability to ensure patient safety and to provide accurate laboratory data.
We must prepare our speech to promote our profession. We must advocate for quality laboratory services. We must partner with other laboratory organizations to ensure a unified, strength in numbers voice. We must MOVE ASCLS FORWARD!
1. Retrieved March 2, 2017 at https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/ClinicalLabFeeSched/PAMA-Regulations.html
2. Retrieved March 2, 2017 at images/Government_AffairsGAC/WashBeat_Winter_202008.pdf
3. Retrieved March 2, 2017 at http://connect.ascls.org/communities/community-home/digestviewer/viewthread?MessageKey=7198a549-ec76-44c0-80c1-8f2ae0045359&CommunityKey=9648e19f-9394-4654-959c-ed8c8655343b&tab=digestviewer#bm7198a549-ec76-44c0-80c1-8f2ae0045359