ASCLS Today Volume 33, Number 1

ASCLSToday Masthead 680

Volume 33, Number 1



Toula Castillo, MLS(ASCP)CM, 2018-19 ASCLS-IL President

Modern day healthcare is a hailstorm of change, and it can be overwhelming not only to the novice, but to the seasoned professional as well. In these times of change, it is important to build trust and value each other to provide the best possible care for the ailing patient. A team-based approach to patient care is a way to build this trust and value. No longer is the physician the sole provider of patient care—there is a team of primary care physicians and specialists, along with countless numbers of healthcare professionals, including medical laboratory professionals.

While our role traditionally doesn’t involve much or any patient contact, we are crucial members of the healthcare team. We assist physicians in determining a patient diagnosis, evaluating effective treatment, and monitoring chronic conditions. I can only speak for my introverted self, but 20 years ago, if someone were to ask me why I went into this profession, the truth would be to avoid direct patient contact.

I still had a desire to help the ill, but seeing sick patients was something that made me apprehensive. I was very content performing my work without having to draw a single sample, without ever having to see a patient. Fast forward to today and the same introvert now says that despite my apprehension, the only way that other healthcare professionals are going to know who I am is for me to build trust and show my value to them.

Recognizing Your Worth as a Laboratory Professional
One personal experience helped lead me to this realization. I went with a family member to see the doctor. The doctor said, “You are looking more pale than usual, so I want to check your B12”. I chimed in and said, “Why don’t you also have a folate performed?” I thought, it’s more common to be folate deficient than B12 deficient, especially considering that primary care physicians prophylactically dose patients with B12 when their levels are 400 picograms or less, which is still within the reference range.

Results came back with a B12 within the reference range and a decreased folate. As I drove home that night, I wondered what would have happened if I wasn’t there to recommend the test? I realized my worth as a laboratory professional. I’ll be honest, it had been difficult to see my value when most of the people that I have daily interactions with question my choice of profession, and the others either don’t know I exist or don’t understand what I do.
As I reflected on this reality and my place in it, I wondered, did I create this reality because of my apprehension in seeing patients? Is the reason I am invisible because I wanted it that way? I still do not have a clear-cut answer to either of these questions, but I do believe that participating in interprofessional collaboration may help answer these questions.

Active Listening in Interprofessional Collaboration
Interprofessional collaboration is a means to build trust and provide value in the healthcare arena. And as medical laboratory professionals, we need to be involved in this process. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has created online learning modules in interprofessional collaboration that are available to anyone, free of charge.

The framework around this team-based approach is called TeamSTEPPS (Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety). TeamSTEPPS has five key principles that include team structure and four teachable skills, which are communication, leadership, situation monitoring, and mutual support. Each one of these units have several different concepts, but at the crux of all four is active listening. Are we really listening to our colleagues? Are we listening to our patients? Are they listening to us?

Active listening helps us decipher what people don’t say, rather than what they do say. The Gold Foundation1 conducted a survey of 65 patients and asked, “How would you know that your healthcare professional is really listening to your concerns?” and they responded with some of the following:

  • Ask follow-up questions
  • Mirror back your patient’s responses
  • Validate your patient’s worrie
  • Answer my questions directly
  • Be “comfortable with silence”
  • Let your patient finish a thought
  • Be aware of your demeanor
  • Pay attention to your body positioning—make sure you make eye contact with me
  • Remember me—the initial conversation about my concerns of my last visit and ask if they were resolved
  • Take notes
  • Communicate with other providers who treat your patient
  • Spend one-on-one time with your patient
  • Follow up after the appointment
  • Give me options
  • Treat the whole patient

While these suggestions apply to patient and healthcare professional interaction, I also think these would be relevant to interprofessional collaboration. By engaging in active listening, we build trust and all professions value from each other’s contributions to patient safety.


Toula Castillo ( is visiting assistant professor in the Health Studies Department at Northern Illinois University.


Terese Abreu, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS Region IX Director

The other morning, I drove down a street I’ve driven down every week for 10 years and noticed a new bakery and deli. I stopped in to check it out and discovered it had been there for two years. I had a similar experience recently with

Connections are so much a part of our daily lives. One could even go so far as to say that they are vital to our success. A quick Google search for the definition and synonyms of connect brings up terms like unite, plug into, network with, join up with, bridge, correlate, associate, and relate. Connections help us feel supported, understood, and a part of a community. People report high satisfaction when they can connect with others, and our ASCLS community offers us a personalized approach and better outcomes. These are all things that make such a powerful tool for members.

At the same time, our ability to be so connected can also be overwhelming. I was extremely comforted to realize that it wasn’t just me; other members of our ASCLS leadership team in Region IX were not aware that was available for ASCLS members. Even better news, using this tool is easy.

The stunningly beautiful Pacific Northwest, land of those adventurous explorers of new frontiers, is the home of our ASCLS Region IX members. True to our pioneer spirits, we have been exploring ways to use the power of the Connect website to strengthen our region’s constituent societies. Are you ready to take a tour with us? We’ll serve as guides for your exploration; bug spray and sun screen are not needed.

Following is a step-by-step guide to use You can clip and save the steps to refer to when needed, should you forget by next week, as I sometimes do.

To begin, type into your browser. Sign in using your ASCLS login information, and you are now connected!

Your ASCLS Connect Profile helps other ASCLS members get to know you.

Step 1: Set up Your Profile
One you log in, you will see a generic avatar (or your photo, if you’ve already uploaded one) in the top righthand corner next to “Contact Us,” “Code of Conduct,” and “” Click on the down arrow to the right of the picture and select Profile.

Some of your profile information has already been populated from your membership record, but you can add many more details to share with other ASCLS members, such as job history, educational background, or honors and awards. Update your profile by clicking the green Add buttons to provide more information or the pencil icon to edit existing information.

Step 2: Join Communities
In the top navigation menu, click on Communities to see links for “All Communities,” “My Communities,” and “Open Forum.” Click All Communities to see the full list of ASCLS communities. Again, your membership settings have automatically added you to some communities (such as, your state society, region, or certain ASCLS events you’ve registered for), but you can join more.

Use the filter menus at the top to sort the communities by type (such as Scientific Assembly or member created); by community that you belong to or can join; or even by how active the community is. To join a community, simply click on the blue Join button and select your notification settings for discussion posts. You can receive email notifications in real time as soon as someone posts to a community discussion; you can get a daily digest of all discussion posts of the previous day; or you can opt-out of email notifications.

You can also check the notifications for all your communities through your Connect profile. In your profile, click on the My Account tab and select Community Notifications to see a list of all your communities and the discussion email setting. Maybe you are not getting emails from one community. If so, change the setting in the Discussion Email column.

ASCLS Connect Libraries allow you to share helpful documents with fellow community members.

Step 3: Libraries Aren’t Just for Books
Libraries are an extremely exciting tool in Connect. Click on Libraries in the main navigation menu and you will get a dropdown menu that includes Resource Libraries. Click here to find documents and guides that are very helpful, especially to those new to ASCLS leadership positions. The Resource Libraries even include ASCLS Connect Tutorials.

The library feature is also a part of every community; here you can post your own documents (society documents, not your family’s Christmas newsletter) that you wish to share with your community. Some shared documents might include reimbursement forms, guides, SOPs, and templates, oh my! You can also leave comments on shared documents’ pages.

Step 4: Events—Post Them
You can post an event in any community you belong to. Navigate to a community, such as your state society, and then click the Events tab. Use the green Add an Event button to post events that your community is hosting and presto, they show up on the Events page located in the main navigation menu.

What a great way to spread the word about your state events. Also, you can post other events and get some terrific ideas on ways to celebrate your members. Post, post, post!

The ASCLS Connect Directory is a powerful tool to help you find and reach out to fellow laboratorians.

Step 5: Connect with Other Members
You can find ASCLS members a couple of ways. Within a community, click on the Members tab to see everyone else who has joined the community. You can use the search fields at the top to find people or just scroll down and browse the list.

As you browse you may notice something next to each member’s location … hold on for this one … a Send Message button to quickly contact the person. How easy is that?! It works, too.

Another way to find a person is to use the Directory in the top navigation menu. You can search by name, company, or email. Be sure to check out the Advanced Search tab where you can look for people based on additional criteria, including location, volunteer interests, professional publications or presentations, certification, and more.

Rules of Engagement
Be sure to always remember to follow etiquette rules, be mindful of your audience, and always Advocate Excellence! is a powerful tool that allows members an easy way to connect in a space where you are respected and where you and your information is protected. Should you get lost, just blow your whistle. The ASCLS staff is happy to help and more than willing to set up a quick session or create a tutorial for you and your team.

Terese Abreu is director of the Heritage University Medical Laboratory Science Program in Toppenish, Washington.


Kathy Doig, PhD, MLS(ASCP)CMSHCM, ASCLS Leadership Development Committee Chair

Each year, ASCLS constituent societies recognize individuals who, by virtue of their ASCLS activities to date, show promise to contribute as future leaders for ASCLS at the local, regional, and national levels. They are honored at the ASCLS Annual Meeting. You can recommend a promising individual for the Key to the Future (KTF) recognition. Here’s how.

  1. Go to the Keys to the Furute web page to review the eligibility requirements.
  2. If a promising candidate comes to mind, email or text your state society president and ask him or her to consider your nominee.
  3. Write a sentence or two explaining why you think your nominee is worthy of KTF recognition.

That’s it. Super simple. Just a quick email or text.

Your president can consider your recommendation or will refer it to the appropriate committee, if needed to conform to your state society’s selection process.

KTF recognition is important for leadership development within our constituent societies. It is reserved for members who are relatively early in their active society involvement. With KTF recognition, members know their contributions to date are valued and it helps spur them to continued involvement.

So, who do you know that has shown early promise as an ASCLS leader? Let your state president know before May 1.

Kathy Doig is professor emeritus, Biomedical Laboratory Diagnostics, at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.


Barbara Snyderman, MLS(ASCP)CM, DLM, ASCLS E&R Fund, Inc., Vice Chair

What student couldn’t use some additional cash to fund their education, graduate studies, or research? The ASCLS Education & Research (E&R) Fund, Inc., provides scholarships and grants for students enrolled in programs in medical laboratory technology, medical laboratory science, and graduate degrees related to our profession. The E&R Fund is also providing scholarship opportunities to students studying for the Doctorate in Clinical Laboratory Science.

Established in 1953, the E&R Fund provides dollars that assist in the growth of the clinical/medical laboratory science profession and enhance the essential services provided by laboratory professionals. The fund is supported by endowments and by contributions from members and the public.

In 2011, the E&R Fund began providing Memorial Scholarships that are intended especially for those who wish to honor or memorialize a friend, colleague, or family member with their gift.

The fund offers a $1,500 Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship annually to a qualifying MLS student and a $1,000 scholarship to a qualifying MLT student in their final year of study. Other undergraduate scholarships are available to honor Dan Southern ($2,000) and in memory of Edward C. Dolbey, Michelle Kanuth, and Bernadette Rodak (each $1,500). A $3,000 Edward C. Dolbey graduate scholarship is offered to graduate students in clinical/medical laboratory science or in a related graduate field.

The E&R Fund also offers research grants of $3,000 - $5,000 supporting members’ investigations of issues critical to laboratory medicine and health care. The I. Dean Spradling Graduate Research Grant is awarded to a qualifying graduate student in MLS.

The ASCLS awards program recognizes outstanding achievements, contributions, and service to the profession and celebrates the value of professional ability and commitment. Grants, scholarships, and professional achievement awards are presented at the ASCLS Annual Meeting.

Eligibility for E&R Fund Scholarships

  • Scholarship applicants must be an ASCLS member.
  • Applicants must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
  • Undergraduate applicants may apply during their final year.
  • Undergraduate applicants must be enrolled in a NAACLS-accredited program.

The E&R Fund depends on your donations! Donations are welcome at any time of the year, not just at the Annual Meeting. Money is raised through the silent auctions at the ASCLS President’s Reception and at the Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference, but that is just a part of what is given to students each year.

Please go to and use the DONATE button to make your contribution to the E&R Fund, or simply mail your check to the ASCLS national office, c/o James Flanigan, American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, 1861 International Drive, Suite 200, McLean VA 22102. Your contribution is officially a tax-deductible donation to our 501c3 fund. There is no minimum contribution—all donations are appreciated. If you want to donate to a specific scholarship, simply provide the name and affiliation of the person you wish to honor or memorialize. The trustees of the E&R Fund thank you in advance for your contributions.

Barbara Snyderman is senior laboratory specialist at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics in Philadelphia.


Michelle Moy, MAdEd, MT(ASCP)SC, 2017-18 ASCLS Promotion of the Profession Committee Chair

Chicago Public School children received the school supplies donated by ASCLS members during 2018 Annual Meeting.

At the 2018 ASCLS Annual Meeting in Chicago, the Society collected school supplies and donations for the Rush Community Service Initiatives Program (RCSIP). They are the charitable arm of Rush University and Rush University Medical Center serving the greater west side of Chicago. RCSIP started in 1991 and is a robust interprofessional program with faculty and student volunteers from all four of Rush University’s colleges: Medical, Nursing, Allied Health, and Graduate.

Supplies collected at the Swissotel in Chicago were immediately distributed to Chicago Public School children at two Rush-sponsored back to school fairs. This allowed students to have the necessary supplies for the first day of school. Director of RCSIP Sharon Gates was on hand to receive the school supplies and expressed her gratitude that ASCLS does truly care.

Thank you to our generous members who donated to the 2018 Helping Other People Event (HOPE) Project.

Michelle Moy is Biomedical Sciences Program director at Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan.

The 2019 HOPE Project will benefit Classroom Central, which equips Charlotte, NC, students in need to effectively learn by collecting and distributing free school supplies to their teachers.
Visit and use the DONATE button to give to the ASCLS HOPE Project.