ASCLS Today Volume 32 Number 7

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Volume 32, Number 7


Roslyn McQueen, PhD, CCRC, ASCLS President

The theme for the 2018-19 ASCLS program year is “Exemplifying Sustainable Excellence in Laboratory Medicine” with ASCEND as the acronym that represents six key target areas. Each ASCLS Today column will be devoted to discussing each of the six target areas. The focus of this month’s column is S = Sustaining the Strategic Map.

S= Sustaining the Strategic Map
The Strategic Map concept was presented to the ASCLS Board of Directors at the 2016 Interim Board Meeting, during the administration of President Suzanne Campbell. For years the organization utilized strategic planning to provide direction and definition to our organization, locally, regionally, and nationally. The Strategic Map is different from the traditional strategic plan.

What is strategy mapping? “Simply put, a strategy map is a visual tool designed to clearly communicate a strategic plan.” (Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton). It creates a visual representation of the key objectives developed for the organization. The Strategic Map includes the vision statement referred to as a unique critical objective at the top of the map and creates a visual representation of the key objectives. These key objectives are called “pillars,” which support or define the direction identified by the board.

The unique critical objective of ASCLS is to: “Actively engage and prepare medical laboratory professionals to meet the demands of the evolving healthcare environment.” The Strategic Map outlines what the organization wants to accomplish and how it plans to deliver its accomplishments through committee charges. The six pillars include:

  • Marketing
  • Membership
  • Organizational Efficiency and Internal Communication
  • Advocacy and Professional Promotion
  • Collaboration
  • Education

Committee Charges
Each year at the ASCLS Annual Meeting, each ASCLS committee receives the committee charges for the year and conducts its first face-to-face meeting. This is a critical meeting to launch the committee off to a meaningful and constructive start. Later, throughout the year, committees meet virtually for implementation of the committee’s charges.

Communication is a key element for the success of any committee, and since we cannot have monthly face-to-face meetings, ASCLS provides Zoom® accounts to all committees and regions. Zoom is a communication tool that allows for online meetings, video conferencing, and the ability to work on documents that can be viewed and shared by the participants.

Pillars of the Strategic Map
The committee charges are a means of implementing the charges developed for each pillar in the ASCLS Strategic Map. 

Marketing. It is imperative that we market and present ASCLS as a major player in the healthcare arena. Branding creates a unique, consistent image to represent our organization. As an example, our brand is represented by our logo, as well as the naming standardization by constituent societies who embrace the ASCLS-State identity.

The Marketing charges indicate that we must market our brand focusing on the value of the organization and the profession. We must demonstrate the value of ASCLS to all key stakeholders; effectively leverage professional networks; and integrate marketing and communication across all platforms. Finally, we must equip and empower all members with tools to promote ASCLS and the profession.

Membership. Membership continues to be the primary focus of the organization. It is critical that we increase our membership numbers, retain members, and increase our transition from developing professional to ascending professional. Our goal is to have 20,000 members by 2030, which will be the centennial anniversary of the organization.

With the 2018 ASCLS House of Delegates-approved Bylaws amendments, membership categories were revised. The changes combine Professional I and II into one Professional category. Students are now referred to as Developing Professionals and New Professional New Members switched to Ascending Professionals. The Collaborative category converted to Community membership, while the Emeritus category remains the same (thanks to lobbying by Past President Barbara Brown).

With an eye on membership recruitment, retention, and reclaiming, promotion of a diverse membership will be addressed as well as retention of members as they transition through their careers and into retirement. The Emeritus members will be a rapidly growing segment as the membership ages.

Organizational Efficiency and Internal Communication. This pillar seeks to identify and disseminate leadership best practices and implement strategies for revitalization of constituent societies. This year we will devote our resources to revitalizing and assisting the weak and inactive constituent societies. We will promote a strong culture of mentorship and integrate that culture into continuing education programs.

Leadership Development will work to ensure the “ongoing oversight of a readily accessible, and well-advertised, library of online resources vetted by the Society, created to assist ASCLS constituent society leaders taking on new roles within the organization and to assist all members in developing their leadership knowledge.” (Doig 2018 Leadership Development Report)

This pillar’s goals include: ensure a strong culture of mentorship and integrate into CE programs; foster systems that support a culture of accountability; develop and maintain data-driven management platforms to evaluate and manage ASCLS activities; and increase engagement among national, regional, and states.

Advocacy and Professional Promotion. This pillar will offer opportunities for ASCLS to work with partner organizations to maximize efforts on federal legislative and regulatory advocacy. The focus on advocacy will define the role of the laboratorian in the evolving healthcare environment. We will work with partner organizations to maximize efforts on federal legislative and regulatory advocacy.

Ultimately, we must define the role of laboratorians to meet demands within the evolving healthcare environment and expand and strengthen the role of laboratorians as advocates of patientcentered services. The role of the laboratory professional must be promoted to the public and healthcare community. The support of state licensure from the national level is an ongoing commitment.

Collaboration. Through our continuous efforts to strengthen the ties between ASCLS and other allied healthcare organizations, ASCLS will work to achieve unified communication with partner laboratory organizations on key issues.

We will take full advantage of our affiliation with the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS) and the Board of Certification (BOC). Working interprofessionally, we will improve diagnosis, treatment, disease prevention, and patient safety. Our efforts with Choosing Wisely and Patient Safety are indications of such efforts. Recently, the Patient Safety Committee championed the effort for ASCLS to become a member organization of the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis. Additionally, the board approved three recommendations from the Choosing Wisely Task Force to be submitted to the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).

Education. We excel in the educational arena. The focus of the Education pillar is to facilitate a culture of lifelong learning along a continuum of education that supports career advancement. The strategies include expanding continuing education (CE) that addresses the full range of contemporary/emerging laboratory issues, utilizing methods appropriate for the needs of learners.

We will develop, support, and maintain educational activities on leadership and mentorship and promote professional development beyond CE. This will allow us to continue to create and support programs promoting leadership, management, and education. Ultimately, leadership development and succession planning in ASCLS will be developed, supported, and maintained.

Using the Strategic Map, ASCLS will provide a vision of the future state of the organization; the direction in which the organization should move and the energy to begin that move. My wish is that the 2018-19 ASCLS fiscal year will be the best, most productive for the perpetuation of our great organization by energized, qualified, committed leadership.



Kristen Croom, MLS(ASCP)CMMBCM, ASCLS Region X Director

Do you ever get the feeling that you are the ill-prepared ringmaster in your very own three-ring circus? Lions and clowns are running around, and the spectators have no idea what is going on. The ringmaster is trying her, or his, best to maintain order and create an enjoyable experience for the audience, turning the occasional unplanned chaos into part of the show.

I have recently concluded that my life is a circus. The three rings are divided into the crucial areas of my life. My first ring is the lion’s den, also known as work. This ring is the most dangerous, necessary, and profitable act in my circus. The danger comes if this ring is ignored—it will usually cause massive destruction for the rest of the circus.

The second ring is the clown cars: our ASCLS activities and events. I designated this as a clown car because of the fun group of individuals that I work with on the ASCLS activities. This ring works because of the teamwork from multiple individuals with multiple personalities coming out to work together.

The third and final ring, the high-wire act, represents personal time. This is my family and self-care. Sometimes it gets overlooked at the circus, but it requires great skill to perform and has an amazing safety net should you fall.

I have four tips on how to manage your different rings to become a successful ringmaster. These tips acknowledge the differences of each ring and utilizes them to maximize enjoyment and engagement.

1. Schedule time for each act and dedicate the time necessary for the performance. As I eluded to earlier, if the lions are ignored, they will get hungry and eat the guests. Similarly, if work is ignored for other priorities, you may find yourself without a job. I am not suggesting that you spend all your time on this one ring—we are not running a zoo or a safari. The idea behind scheduling your time is to try your best to fit all three performances in your life.

These performances can be as long or as short as the ringmaster chooses. Just remember that an almost equal distribution of performances among the three rings provides an enjoyable and diverse show. When possible, remember that it is usually preferable to keep the rings separate. Do not let the lions and the clowns play together too much or someone will end up suffering.

2. Do not create an extra act if you do not have the time or capacity to handle this extra work. As you are running your circus, remember that adding another ring to the circus may cause more chaos than benefit. However, sometimes we are not given the choice to add more workload to our lives. In this case you may need to evaluate the rest of the circus and see what can be reduced to allow for the extra act. Please be mindful what is reduced as this applies to all the rings.

3. Ask for help. This is where your clown buddies are an amazing resource. The ASCLS community provides multiple ways to ask for help and get feedback from your fellow laboratorians. This is also helpful when you have dedicated too much time to your clown ring and need assistance to finish the show.

Your ASCLS leaders understand that the circus is always evolving and something that we had time for at the beginning of the year may not be possible at this time. All you need to do is contact your president, region director, or anyone on the ASCLS staff and they can find someone to help you.

Please don’t remove the clowns from your circus. They provide a great stress relief for the lions’ cage, while providing you with entertainment and engagement.

4. Most importantly, don’t forget your tightrope walkers (yourself and your family). Since this is generally a quiet part of the circus, it can get overlooked by the ringmaster. It also can be the most entertaining and rewarding part of the circus.

Me time and/or family time is your safety net. A good tightrope walker never falls without something soft to land on and can always get back up and try again. However, when they safely make it across, everyone feels a sense of accomplishment.

Each circus is unique. As the ringmaster, it is your gift to organize it the way you see fit. We have all had those audience members that don’t agree with the program and want to make changes. As the ringmaster, it is ultimately your decision. Your ASCLS leadership is here to help and support you in any way we can. Remember, the ringmaster should have fun running the circus!



Amanda Fulton, MB(ASCP)CM

This past year I began a new position in the Histocompatibility Laboratory (HLA) at City of Hope. In this new role I search the national and worldwide bone marrow registry for patients in need of bone marrow transplants from matched unrelated donors. These patients do not have genetically-matched siblings, so the next step is to look for identical HLA twins who are unrelated to the patients. I am responsible for managing and selecting potential donors for patients.

A few months into the role I learned that certain patients have a harder time finding matched to unrelated donors. Most of these patients are of mixed ethnic backgrounds. When it comes to matching human leukocyte antigen (HLA) types, a patient’s ethnic background is an important factor in predicting the likelihood of finding a match because HLA markers used in matching are inherited. Some ethnic groups have more complex tissue types than others. So, a person’s best chance of finding a donor may be with someone of the same ethnic background1.

After learning about how mixed ethnic backgrounds hinder a patient’s search, my coworkers attended a national meeting hosted by the National Marrow Donor Program. At one of the meeting sessions was a screening of the award-winning documentary, Mixed Match. The film focuses on the fact that mixed-race people are one of the fastest growing demographics in North America. And because there are more mixed-race children being born today, there are more children diagnosed with rare blood diseases. Therefore, there aren’t enough multiethnic donors registered to fill demand, and a lot of sick kids are at risk of never finding a suitable donor. The film also explores the growing need for cord blood banks and advancements in the field of cord blood stem cell transplantation2.

The film’s tagline states that being mixed race is no longer just about identity, it can be a matter of life or death3. Mixed Match follows patients struggling to find unrelated donors; patients who were lucky enough to find matched unrelated donors of their same ethnic background; and someone who was able to donate marrow to save the life of a patient in need.

“We want to make sure people are educated and clear the stigma behind donating,” said Jeff Chiba Stearns, award winning documentary filmmaker and director/producer of Mixed Match.

“It’s hard for mixed people, but minorities as a whole are underrepresented,” stated Athena Asklipiadis, founder of the outreach group, Mixed Marrow, and featured in the film. “It’s sad to think a match might be out there, but that person doesn’t know or is too scared to donate. The documentary is meant to raise awareness and help save lives by encouraging and inspiring people to join their national stem cell registries.”

How can you help spread awareness? Host a screening of Mixed Match at your hospital, laboratory, or local college to bring awareness to the issue. The movie’s goal is to bring awareness to the lack of diversity on the stem cell and bone marrow registry and encourage people to join.

The film does a wonderful job of educating people about the stem cell donation process. Therefore, people who might have been scared or hesitant to join the registry will hopefully now be more willing to sign up. Not to mention, watching the struggle of patients who do not have donors is incredibly heart breaking and inspires viewers to want to help make a difference. To date, all screenings of the film have been followed by a donor drive. This is where a representative from Be The Match™ is available to assist people who want to join the registry. I have already collaborated with my hospital and local university to host two screenings of the film.

A Mixed Match screening event would make a great function for a laboratory get-together, a Lab Week event, or even a community service project put on by your hospital. If your hospital has an HLA laboratory you could pitch the idea to them.

If enough awareness is brought to the issue, we can increase the diversity of the registry, and patients who do not have matches will have a better chance of finding a donor. After watching Mixed Match, I have never felt more compelled to help.


  2. BC Medical Journal (

Host a Screening or Get More Info

To host a screening, please visit for detailed information on how the process works. You can also email and request a screening link to preview the film.

Visit the following websites for more information on the stem cell process, donation, and the film, Mixed Match. You can also find the following organizations on social media.


Ivan Sanchez, MLS(ASCP)CM

After countless hours of reading, studying, and preparing for your Board of Certification (BOC) exam you finally pass and get your MLS certification. Phew! Now you begin the process of getting your first MLS job. Time to work on your resume, fill out applications, and brush up on your interview skills. This is what you worked so hard for.

During the application process you know getting a morning shift is not likely (especially when it’s your first job) but you have your eyes set on an evening shift. As you start your job hunt you see an uncomfortable phrase, “Evening or NIGHT SHIFT.” This may not be your first choice, but you need a job, so you decide to apply for it anyway. You’ll probably get an offer for an evening shift anyway, right?

You go to your interviews, come out feeling great, and wait for the call. You finally get it and they make you an offer… for the night shift. Intimidated? Maybe. Excited? Probably not. Does this sound familiar? Well, you won’t be the first, and certainly not the last, in this situation.

Depending on where you live this may be something that happens to you—the only shift with demand may be night shift. I currently live in San Diego, and that was a reality many of my graduating classmates (including myself) had to face. Many of us had mentally prepared to get an evening shift position because getting a morning position would be difficult. I applied and got an offer for night shift. Ultimately, I decided to bite the bullet and take the offer.

Night Shift Perks
I have now been working night shift for more than seven months and am glad I took the opportunity. I understand why night shift has a bad reputation; you sleep odd hours and you are up when 90 percent of people are asleep. However, from a career stand point, working nights has perks too.

A big perk that should be stressed is you are a true generalist. It is a great way to get your feet wet in many departments before you decide to specialize. You are also more in control of patient care since you are responsible for larger portions of a patient’s work up.

Volume may be lower during the night, but staffing is also minimal, so you will have to adapt to cover more departments and think on your feet. One minute you may work on a routine CBC when suddenly a stroke code is called and now you must change gears and focus on the code patient. Can it get chaotic? Sometimes it can. However, you evolve with the environment and you learn to prioritize what is important and how to prepare for possible scenarios.

Personal and Career Growth
I work in a large trauma II medical campus with a busy emergency department, so my experience is most nights have steady work. When I first started I was really intimidated by the workflow, but over time I became more independent and resourceful. The environment slowly became less intimidating. I developed my own foolproof way to stay organized and prepared if an emergency were to occur. After a few months I have drastically refined my multi-tasking ability, significantly improved my reasoning under stress (as well as keeping calm), and vastly reinforced my knowledge in all routine departments.

There are nights when one department gets more problems than others, so staff relocates accordingly. Hematology may receive several body fluids at once and they need to be resulted STAT. So, you may assist with the body fluids or momentarily cover another department while someone helps with them. Perhaps a chemistry analyzer goes down during the night and the chemistry MLS must troubleshoot it while you assist with keeping workflow going. The time I have spent on night shift has also let me develop close ties to my co-workers since we work so closely together—getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and understanding each person’s style of work.

Night shift is an excellent opportunity to challenge and affirm yourself as an independent MLS while honing the many skills required to work the bench. By the time you are done with night shift you will have a concrete idea about the departments you prefer to work in and the area in which you would like to specialize, if that is the path you decide to take. You are also much more marketable with your generalist experience.

Consider night shift as an option for you. Will it be challenging? Definitely. Some days you’ll have to make critical decisions on your own. Is it hard to adjust to the lifestyle? It takes time, but you will adjust. Will the rewards outweigh the cons? Without a doubt.

Learn more about the ASCLS Developing Professionals Forum and the New Professionals Forum.


Paula L. Griswold, PhD, MT(ASCP), and Stacy Starks, PhD

In today’s world and academic environment, keeping classroom content stimulating while promoting student engagement are challenges faced by professors throughout academia. Classroom interactions need to be engaging and thought-provoking to allow students better comprehension of subject matter leading to a more focused career path. For students to be truly engaged in the classroom, faculty must develop unique ways to sustain motivation and involvement. One way to do this is through co-curricular activities.

There are many benefits of developing co-curricular activities in university classes. First, the co-curricular activities employed in health sciences programs expand the knowledge base of future health professionals through participation in hands-on experiences in the community. Second, these activities allow students to apply knowledge studied in the classroom and improve soft skills needed for entry into the workforce. Third, engaging students in co-curricular activities trains them to better serve their communities.

Two faculty in the School of Health Professions at the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) developed and incorporated cocurricular activities into courses to facilitate this engagement. These co-curricular undertakings exposed students to handson, real life experiences that connect to coursework and enhance skills necessary for successful entry into the workforce. These activities included those performed by students in a Registered Student Organization (RSO) and a Social Epidemiology course.

To recruit students to participate in these co-curricular activities, announcements were made in classes and reminders were sent to students via the learning management system, group messaging platforms, and student organizational meetings. Often, students were assigned tasks prior to the activities as a mechanism to stimulate better engagement. These tasks included organizing an activity, making lists of materials, and completing any necessary paperwork required for the activity. Additionally, at the conclusion of the activity, participants were required to write a reflection paper and contribute to group reflective discussions.

“Victory Garden” at the Northeast Louisiana War Veterans Home

Co-curricular activities were developed through collaboration with the ULM Registered Student Organization Office and various community agencies. At ULM, the purpose of the RSO is to support the educational mission of the university. Students interested in creating a student organization follow RSO procedures identifying the leaders and officers. The new health sciences student organization was promoted through word-of-mouth and on-campus visibility. Semester meetings were held with active members to design appropriate activities to support health and wellness both on-campus and in the community.

Community agencies were contacted for activities available to groups of students that promote healthcare or other class topics. Ideas were formalized, along with the dates and locations of the activity. Communications continued with the agency administrators regarding the activity until the event occurred. After the activity, a thank you card or letter was sent to the agency.

Examples of co-curricular activities include the following.

Health Fairs: Students participated in health fairs throughout the academic year, both on and off campus. They created poster presentations and pamphlets on health topics and discussed these topics with employees at a local corporation as well as with employees and students on the ULM campus.

Victory Garden: Students organized and planted a “Victory Garden” at the Northeast Louisiana War Veterans Home located in Monroe, Louisiana. They consulted with residents and administrators at the home on the design and implementation of the project.

Pink Pumpkins for Breast Cancer

Older Americans Luncheon: Students assisted with an “Older Americans Luncheon” hosted by the West Ouachita Senior Center located in West Monroe, Louisiana. Students decorated the reception hall, assisted in preparing the program, greeted seniors as they arrived, and assisted individuals to their tables.

Eliminate Hunger Campaign: Students participated in the “Eliminate Hunger Campaign” for the elderly in Ouachita Parish. Students bagged and distributed food items to seniors located in West Monroe, Louisiana.

Pink Pumpkins for Breast Cancer: During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the student organization sold painted and “blinged” pumpkins for breast cancer awareness. All proceeds were donated to breast cancer research.

Students reported through reflection papers and group discussions that they felt more connected to the community as a result of their participation in these activities. Other comments included that they sensed they were making a difference in the health of others. The effect of their involvement in the community gave many students a sense of responsibility and commitment. It also had a positive impact on their engagement upon returning to the classroom.