Roslyn McQueen, PhD, CCRC, ASCLS President
The education pillar in our strategic map is supported by strategies to expand continuing education, as well as promote professional development and ethical standards.
As I write this article, June is right around the corner. How quickly time flies! At this time of year, most of our constituent societies have recently held their annual spring meetings. Educational excellence is a defining standard by which this organization is governed. The ASCLS Bylaws state that each constituent society is required to hold an annual scientific meeting. These educational meetings characterize one of the most important purposes of the Society, which is to provide continuing education. As a former ASCLS Bylaws Committee chair and current ASCLS president, I frequently review and consult our governing documents.
The “Purpose of ASCLS” provides the direction for our programs, advocacy, education, and leadership endeavors. I am drawn to several key words in our purpose, such as promote standards, enhance professional standards, educational programs, advocacy, and ethical standards.
ASCLS Bylaws Article II: Purpose Statement
The purposes for which the Society is formed are:
- To promote standards in clinical laboratory methods and research, and in affiliated fields;
- To enhance the professional status and image of its members;
- To create mutual understanding and cooperation among the Society and its members and all others who are engaged in the interests of individual and public health;
- To be responsible for providing educational programs in the clinical laboratory and related sciences and defining standards of competence at all levels;
- To be responsible for determining entry level requirements and providing for appropriate credentialing;
- To represent the interests of the clinical laboratory and affiliated professions and the members of the Society in all government and other forums that affect those interests;
- To establish and promote ethical standards for the professions represented; and
- To provide aid and benefit to all members of said professions.
Our bylaws mandate that we provide educational programs in the clinical laboratory and related sciences and define standards of competence at all levels. Therefore, this column will highlight the “Education” target identified in my Sustainable Excellence program.
E = Educational Excellence
If we were to survey the membership about the one function that makes ASCLS excel as an organization, it would be our focus on education. Our Strategic Map features “Education” as a prominent pillar to enhance our profession. We provide continuing education opportunities on the national and state levels, as well as promote the professional development of our membership. Education … we do this well. “ASCLS facilitates a culture of lifelong learning along a continuum of education that supports career advancement.”
Educational excellence is our mantra, our mandate, our mission. I recently visited the Education-Meetings menu on our website to review the various educational opportunities available to our membership.
Continuing Education for Medical Laboratory Professionals
As medical laboratory scientists, we must continually avail ourselves of continuing education to keep abreast of the advances in medical laboratory science. There are several venues that offer opportunities to obtain continuing education, besides what is provided by employers. ASCLS offers P.A.C.E.®-approved continuing education courses from a variety of providers. About 100 online courses are available through the ASCLS website.
Professional Acknowledgment for Continuing Education
Documentation of our continuing education is essential. Frequently, continuing education is required by federal regulations, state licensure, certification agencies, and employers. ASCLS provides Professional Acknowledgment for Continuing Education (P.A.C.E.®), an “administrative system that serves as the quality assurance mechanism for continuing education programs offered to clinical laboratory professionals.” Andrea Hickey is the ASCLS director of membership and P.A.C.E.® “Educational programs may be in a number of different formats—from large, multiple-day annual meetings to self-instructional material on CDs, journal articles, or websites.” ASCLS uses CE Organizer for participants to document their continuing education credit contact hours.
Additional educational opportunities include:
- Clinical Lab Investigations
- Case Studies for the Laboratory Professional
- Microbiology Grand Rounds
- Society News Now
- ASCLS Connect Community
There’s Nothing Like Face-to-Face Meetings
National and constituent society meetings provide the one-on-one opportunities for members to receive education updates and network with colleagues. I am a proponent of face-to-face meetings. I recognize that online programs are beneficial but attending meetings has always been my preference.
I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and make plans to attend an ASCLS conference this year. As previously stated, constituent societies and some regions sponsor annual meetings, usually in the spring, but some in late fall. On the national level, ASCLS offers three major face-to-face conferences each year—Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference (CLEC) usually held in February; the Legislative Symposium held in Washington, D.C., in March; and the Annual Meeting, now held at the end of June.
Educational conferences offer continuing education with the added value of being able to see the speaker in person, to ask your questions, and to hear the questions and answers of other participants. The conference format also provides opportunities for networking with colleagues from across the nation. Many refer to these national meetings as “Family Reunions.” Each year we anticipate reuniting with colleagues with whom we speak the same language, i.e. microbiology, hematology, or immunology. These national or state meetings allow us to take advantage of vendor and social activities in addition to the continuing education. A conference can be the highlight of your work year if you make the most of it.
Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference (CLEC)
I had the opportunity to attend CLEC for the first time this year. It was a fantastic meeting. CLEC continues to be the premier educational conference for laboratory educators. Hundreds of educators gather annually, even during snow storms, for this program. This year’s CLEC was held February 21-23 in Baltimore. In spite of inclement weather, there were over 500 people in attendance. CLEC provides an opportunity to learn new skills and better understand the issues that educators face on a daily basis. All attendees appeared upbeat, engaged, and committed to the educational profession.
Similar in format to the ASCLS Annual Meeting, concurrent sessions presented subject matter experts in the area of education, certification, and accreditation. Updates by ASCP Board of Governors and NAACLS provided perspectives for ensuring that we have a competent stream of professionals entering the profession. I left the conference feeling recharged, motivated, and inspired.
Similarly, I look forward to attending the new ASCLS-AGT Joint Annual Meeting in June.
ASCLS Professional Meetings
In Susie Zanto’s President’s Column she provided 10 reasons to attend an ASCLS professional conference. I feel that it is important to repeat and present it again because it embraces my personal commitment to attending professional meetings.
Top 10 reasons to attend the ASCLS professional conference:
- You get to meet and interact with experts in the field face-to-face and develop a relationship. This is not something that can be done with online CE opportunities.
- Being around like-minded people is inspiring and refreshing, and you can meet new people and expand your network by forging partnerships with colleagues to address key common issues or concerns.
- One-stop shopping. Get up to date with the latest technologies and practices in several disciplines all at once.
- Interact with multiple vendors in one venue, ask questions, compare products, and get advice from fellow CLSs in attendance.
- Advance your career. Employers like to see that you are committed to your job, and attending conferences is one way you can show your employer that you are a lifelong learner.
- Find answers to difficult and challenging questions that you have been struggling with in your workplace.
- Rest and relax. Get away from the common grind of your daily routine at work, home, and in your community. Enjoy some “me time,” slow down, stop, and relax.
- Your mind may be opened to new opportunities, new theories, and new ideas.
- Advance the profession—to remain a respected profession, clinical lab scientists will need to demonstrate their commitment to the profession through career advancement and additional training. Attending in-person conferences is one way for you to demonstrate your commitment to the profession.
- Support ASCLS, which sponsors the conference. Income from the conference is one of the ways ASCLS supports the activities that occur on the state, regional, and national levels.
Finally, your attendance and support make ASCLS stronger. Education is crucial to our performance in the laboratory, but it is more than knowledge. By attending professional conferences and meetings, it will produce lifelong friendships and professional opportunities.
We look forward to every one of you planning to attend our national meeting, June 23-27, 2019, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Become a part of ASCLS history, and join us for the ASCLS-AGT 2019 Joint Annual Meeting. Join the ASCLS Family.
Roslyn McQueen is a research doctor at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan.