Deb Rodahl, MBA, MLS(ASCP)CM, 2017-18 ASCLS President
Over the last few months, I have had the pleasure of attending four of our constituent society spring meetings. Our spring meetings are such a great opportunity to experience all the benefits of professional involvement. I noted with great interest one of our community questions posted by Kathy Doig: Is this social connection an important and valuable aspect of Society participation that is worth fostering?
- Do we need to be thinking about how to reproduce that old-fashioned personal and social connection with our digital communication modes?
- Do younger members enjoy the same sense of social connectedness that seasoned members have had even though they have fewer occasions for face-to-face interactions? If so, how does that develop?
- If younger members are not gaining this and we think it is worth fostering – how do we do that in a digital world?
Essentially the question was asking about the need for in-person meetings or has the younger generation forsaken attendance at these meetings for virtual education and on-line connections. As expected, there was a variety of responses, but many of those who responded spoke to the value of the in-person meetings to really get to know each other. In particular, I loved the comment from Heather Mayer about “people join people.”
In the last year my healthcare organization has been going through a merger and integration process with another healthcare organization in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area in Minnesota. As the laboratory integration team came together, we insisted on face-to-face meetings to foster the “getting to know each other” process. We moved our meetings around to different sites in both organizations so that we could tour each other’s laboratories and meet some of the staff and leaders. You can probably surmise how much easier it is to discuss integration projects and activities when we have at least some sense of what is now a part of each other’s organizations. It also has led to much more respectful discussions than might have occurred if these were faceless, nameless places. Now, a year later we still strive for at least one face-to-face meeting a month to continue to foster the good will that has occurred.
In my long tenure of working in a hospital-based laboratory environment, there is something to be said for putting faces and names together. I read many of the Facebook posts where people are frustrated (rightfully so) when they are called “Lab-girl” or “hey lab” – but this is because we have not put faces and names together in our own work environments. Sounds like a good Lab Week challenge for next year!
My ASCLS story began when I attended a state meeting. The membership recruitment team did a great job of reaching out to me as I traversed the exhibit hall. I heard all the right messages about the importance of being involved in my profession and not just going to work for a job. I joined and within a couple of weeks one of my co-workers convinced me to help her with the state government affairs committee. She knew that the key to getting value out of this membership meant getting involved. Government Affairs, led to being part of the membership committee, chairing the membership committee, working on state meeting planning committees, a turn as state president, national committees and task forces, Regional Director, and now as national President. I can claim many years of active ASCLS involvement based simply on attending in-person meetings.
So, back to the discussion about the value of in-person meetings vs virtual conversations. People do join people when there is a common bond and common passion for what we do as professionals. Today, we meet many more people virtually through our communities, committees, task forces, or on social media and those relationships are solidified when we do finally meet in person and can put the faces and names together. There clearly needs to be opportunities for ASCLS members to connect at in-person meetings to continue to foster the sense of family and good will that I think we all value as ASCLS members.
Many of you have likely heard that ASCLS will be traveling in a new direction for our Annual Meeting starting in 2019. We have made the decision to move independently of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry meeting to create a new national meeting concept for our members (and non-members). This change will allow us to visit other cities where travel expenses will be less and offer more variety in locations. This is an exciting change where the concept of destination and fostering our ASCLS family connections will be in the forefront of planning.