ASCLS Today Volume 33, Number 5

ASCLSToday Masthead 680

Volume 33, Number 5


Aymen Alsaihati

Diversity is a sensitive topic that many people do not like to speak about or even face. It felt strange to receive an email to write about and share my experience and opinion as an ASCLS member from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was a new thing for me and the first time I have thought of writing or discussing such an issue. It took me a long time to decide which such experience I would share.

So, what is diversity? We can define it as “a set of conscious practices that involve understanding and appreciating the interdependence of humanity, cultures, and the natural environment. It means practicing mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own.”1 It could be found in work, school, university, mall, hospitals, and everywhere, but this article focuses on workplace diversity, which refers to “the variety of differences between people in an organization. It encompasses race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organizational function, education, background, and more. It involves not only how people perceive themselves but also how they perceive others.”1

Such behavior may reflect on people’s relationships either negatively or positivity, but if it reflects in negative ways, it may become harmful. It reflects the fact that everyone in this universe is unique and different. We are not able to change that, but we can know each other better, accept others, and learn how to adapt. Is it easy? No. Can you adjust or handle others always? No. So, why are diversity discussions and issues critical? Because of our lives together and the need to respect and accept each other. For that, we need “a process to create and maintain a positive work environment where the similarities and differences of individuals are valued, and so all can reach their potential and maximize their contributions to an organization’s strategic goals and objectives.” This is known as diversity management.1

“Regardless of our differences, we can help and support each other when we have the same goals or when we focus on what brings us together.”

Usually, people speak about negative behaviors to illustrate the importance of diversity awareness. But I prefer to talk about the positive perspectives and share some positive stories that are more valuable. Focusing on the positive, however, does not deny that we face some negatives dealing with diversity and that we need more efforts to deal with it.

The Power of Diverse Friends and Mentors
During my work in Saudi Arabia, I transferred from one hospital to another hospital branch under the same organization, but I found intense difficulties in dealing with the work environment. These difficulties continued for a few months, but a new staff member joined us and was appointed as laboratory manager later. This man was a Filipino laboratory technician who had a lot of experience. He noticed that I did not feel included and was not happy there. He supported and mentored me, and we built a strong friendship that continues.

Also, my first co-worker at that hospital to build effective communication and interaction with me was not a Saudi. He was an Indian colleague who became one of my supportive friends.

I found that my other Saudi colleagues respected and appreciated me, but they had difficulties in communicating that to me. This experience showed me that sometimes inclusiveness involves two sides, and each side needs to learn how to act this way.

On the other hand, I cannot ignore the college teachers who play a significant role in my life as my mentors and supporters. Regardless of our differences, we can help and support each other when we have the same goals or when we focus on what brings us together.

The Need to Create Healthy Relationships
We need to understand the power behind our differences, which helps create more achievements and experiences that lead to a healthy relationship that spans our differences. Leading a diverse group or community requires tremendous skill, and it is helpful to understand different people’s needs and appreciate their differences for more human creativity and productivity.

ASCLS can play a significant role, especially since hospitals and laboratories are small communities composed of multi-cultural and sometimes multi-national associates needing to work together to serve the patients. Promoting cultural awareness and playing an educational role could be part of the Society’s contribution. For example, ASCLS could facilitate honest and frank discussions to find better work environments using such questions as:

  • How can we live and work together?
  • How can we control ourselves without judging others?
  • How can we prevent or eliminate harmful actions?
  • How can we assist the one who needs our help without harming them?
  • How could each side accept each other?
  • How will we train and educate healthcare practitioners on how to react inclusively and understand people’s differences?
  • How can the organizations accept, support, and manage its diversity?
  • Moreover, what related studies and articles are required? ASCLS might support and publish such papers.

In the end, let us use our diversity as a sunshine power and energy so that everyone feels included, and let’s provide a welcome and accepting atmosphere, too.


  1. Patrick, H., and Kumar, V. (2012). Managing Workplace Diversity. SAGE Open, 2(2),

Aymen Alsaihati is a registered laboratory specialist in Saudi Arabia.

If you're interested in this topic, join the ASCLS Diversity Advocacy Council.


Maddie Josephs, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS President-Elect and Past Region I Director

New England ASCLS History
At the 2019 ASCLS-AGT Joint Annual Meeting in Charlotte this June, I spoke with several new leaders who asked a variety of questions about the history of ASCLS. I explained that there was a very concise and well-written history, by Karen Karni. It includes several references to the contributions of the Society to our profession.

As I thought more about this, I realized that I didn’t know very much about the genesis of the state constituent societies and the development of the 10 ASCLS regions. Looking back on the history of our organization and its regions could potentially help us with developing a framework for our future. Since I got involved with ASCLS in 1997 and couldn’t speak well to Region I’s background, I reached out to Dr. Jim Griffith, ASCLS past president, past Region I director, and past president of ASCLS-Central New England for some historical perspective.

New England Mergers
I learned that during the 1950s and 1960s, all the New England constituent societies were small. ASCLS (then ASMT) created the regions in the late 1960s as a way to bolster some of the struggling state constituent societies. Then, as is now, Region I was comprised of the six New England states and the state of New York. In New England, the strongest and most active state by far was Massachusetts.

Due to changes in the industry, including in vitro diagnostics and changes in healthcare policy, fewer opportunities existed for laboratory professionals to attend state meetings. This, of course, translated into a loss of income for the states and fewer resources for constituent societies that saw membership numbers dwindle. In New England, Rhode Island was the first to fall, as Dr. Griffith explained.

As it happens, he was president of Massachusetts at the time (1990-91) and arranged for a merger of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. With this came a name change: Massachusetts and Rhode Island became known as Central New England. Central New England sponsored a very successful Annual Meeting in Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts. To ensure all members had access to continuing education, the society also developed traveling seminars and rotating workshops.

A few years later, the state of New Hampshire surrendered its charter and merged with Central New England for similar reasons. In addition, the society resources stayed with the state for scholarship purposes. Recently, during my tenure as Region I director, the state constituent society of Vermont, facing similar issues, merged with Central New England. This is truly CENTRAL New England.

North of Central New England, the Maine constituent society remains strong. It is the hope within Region I that the Connecticut state society, south of Central New England and west of Rhode Island, once again becomes an active constituent society.

The Need to Bolster State Societies
The merger of these state constituent societies occurred because these states were struggling due to lack of members and resources. However, the merger of states within our regions is not the ideal solution. Rather, we need to bolster our constituent societies by providing resources to both prevent recycling of leaders and promote continuing education.

Admittedly, travel to meetings can be a barrier. Geography of the region and attitudes among the people who live there play a large role in what these regions can and do offer. The area of Central New England in square miles is 30,743—small when you consider many other states alone. New York state, which as mentioned earlier is part of Region I, is 54,556 square miles, and distance required to travel has also proven to be an obstacle in the past.

As a native New Englander, I can safely say that most who live here are loath to travel beyond their state lines, let alone travel 300 miles or more to attend a meeting. Consider our regions out west, like Region IX (Alaska, Oregon, and Washington) and Region X (California and Hawaii) where the states are not only not contiguous, but where members require at the minimum a boat or a plane ride to come together as a regional membership!

In this age of technology, we are fortunate to be able to hold virtual meetings via web or phone conference and attend webinars, but that leaves us wishing for our networking opportunities and reunions with colleagues that are so important to us. Rotating meeting locations, offering sessions in various locations, or traveling seminars should always be considered.

The authors wish to thank Dr. Jim Griffith for his contribution to this article.

Maddie Josephs is professor/department chair of the Allied Health Department at the Community College of Rhode Island in Lincoln, Rhode Island.

Lisa Hochstein, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS Region I Director

ASCLS-NY members attend the 2019 Spring Seminar on June 14 in Syracuse.

ASCLS-New York History
New York has also had its share of challenges in membership and governance. Years ago, New York had eight chapters covering the state. Unfortunately, only four of the eight were active. The active chapters were clustered upstate (Buffalo and Rochester) and downstate (New York City and Long Island). In the middle of the state, there was no activity. These chapters were smaller in membership and had difficulty getting enough people to run their chapter.

The ASCLS-NY Board of Directors decided to look at a new structure eliminating the chapters and substituting “regions.” There were two regions—East and West—that bisected the state. While this was good in theory, it did not work in practice. Today, we no longer have regions, but we have one strong state society.

To serve our members’ continuing education needs, our state meeting rotates upstate and downstate every other year. While this is not a perfect situation, it does afford our members the ability to attend a state meeting even though they may have to travel several hours.

In recent years, the more seasoned members of our state have made a concentrated effort to recruit newer members to serve on the board. While it took several years, we have succeeded, and our board today is made up of many of these individuals.

“[W]hat may work for one state or region does not necessarily work for all. It’s important to know your members and to ensure these members are realizing the benefits of membership in ASCLS.”

The important message here is that what may work for one state or region does not necessarily work for all. It’s important to know your members and to ensure these members are realizing the benefits of membership in ASCLS.

Lisa Hochstein is associate professor/program director in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at St. John’s University in Queens, New York.


Mary Ann McLane, PhD, ASCLS Past President

Back in 2017, when I received the ASCLS Lifetime Achievement Award, I commented that, “Retirement does not mean that I am dead. You haven’t seen anything yet!” Retirement became a true reality in January 2019, with no more paychecks, joining Medicare, and moving to a retirement community in Dover, Delaware.

Since then I have reflected a bit on, “How much will I really stay involved in ASCLS?” This usually followed thoughts of, “Can I afford that river cruise to Europe this fall?” and saying “No” to those at my retirement community who see me as their answer to re-energizing the local activity committees.

I truly do appreciate my increased “free” time, but I now find my 40-year-old mantra of “Provide the Face” surfacing in the most unique places. As my new neighbors get to know me, I discover I am starting from scratch with folks who have no idea who we medical laboratory scientists (MLSs) are. Yes, I have handled that question of, “So you are a nurse?” repeatedly. But that only emphasizes how much we all need to witness continually to the special nature of this profession and those who choose to journey with it.

“Ever since I passed the certification exam in 1976, it always bothered me that this career I loved so dearly was invisible to my family, other healthcare colleagues, and the general public.”

For Medical Laboratory Professionals Week this April, I placed a sign on the cabinet in the lobby of my apartment building. It generated questions and discussion, including the origin of the name of the week. You may not realize that the week used to be called “National Medical Laboratory Week.” Ever since I passed the certification exam in 1976, it always bothered me that this career I loved so dearly was invisible to my family, other healthcare colleagues, and the general public. It was true that we insulated ourselves behind the lab doors (for safety reasons, of course!) and had negligible contact with patients or clinicians. So why should I be surprised?

Nonetheless, in 2004 I challenged the ASCLS Board of Directors (and all the powers-that-be at that time) by insisting that week in April seemed, by title, to celebrate the room rather than the professionals. I wrote an article in ADVANCE for Medical Laboratory Professionals, calling on all of us in the field never to accept that nameless, faceless attitude and always be ready to describe, in an “elevator speech,” what our critical role is in healthcare. To this day, mine is: “I am one of over 300,000 professionals in this country who design, perform, and maintain the quality assurance of the billions of diagnostic lab tests done in this country every year.”

I count it as one of my own personal career achievements that the week’s name was soon changed to “Medical Laboratory Professionals Week.” I made the “Provide the Face” mantra the theme of my 2009-10 ASCLS presidential year and have given many seminars on the topic. My new neighbors here are excited at my proposal to give a talk on “Understanding My Lab Tests.” It goes to show that one person can make a difference … even now at age 70 and retired.

Mary Ann McLane is a retired professor from the University of Delaware, still providing the face of medical laboratory professionals, living in Dover, Delaware.


Raedean Hiebert, MBA, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS-Minnesota 2018-19 President

One of the most interesting things about being a member of ASCLS is the people you meet and the stories they tell of their journeys in the profession. Each one of us has a unique story and yet at the same time our stories have a lot in common. My name is Raedean Hiebert, and I served as president of ASCLS-Minnesota for 2018-19. I am married and have three beautiful kids. It truly is an honor to have the opportunity to serve my profession in this capacity.

I graduated from Bemidji State University in 1996 and my first job was at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, where I worked the evening shift. An opportunity to move into an advanced position landed me at six pediatric clinics as their lab consultant. I really thrived in this independent environment and quickly realized management was my next career step, so I changed jobs again and went to work at a very busy family practice in Edina, Minnesota, as the lab director.

These last 19 years brought me to the reference laboratory environment in a sales role. I have found this role to be immensely challenging at times, but always rewarding. My current role is all about providing solutions for my customer base and their patients, helping to provide quality laboratory care in a changing healthcare ecosystem. This can be accomplished by improving laboratory efficiencies and reducing costs by leveraging existing lab infrastructure, purchasing power, and operational excellence tactics to optimize cost and efficiency.

“[B]ecoming active in ASCLS has been one of the most satisfying experiences thus far. The people and opportunities that were presented to me over the years, and that assist with my growth as a professional, are things that can’t be found by just showing up for work every day.”

As important to me as my career path, another passion has been leading ASCLS-MN this past year. The main areas of need that were identified in our organization were recruitment and mentorship. These new initiatives have been well received, especially the creation of a succession plan to support our future leaders of ASCLS-MN by providing a structured process along with increasing member involvement opportunities. ASCLS continues to provide a solid backbone to help facilitate ideas and solutions through advocacy for our profession.

Personally, becoming active in ASCLS has been one of the most satisfying experiences thus far. The people and opportunities that were presented to me over the years, and that assist with my growth as a professional, are things that can’t be found by just showing up for work every day. Being involved with ASCLS has confirmed for me that being a medical laboratory scientist has been the right career choice. As a part of ASCLS, we can shape the future of our profession and the quality of healthcare in our nation.

Raedean Hiebert is account executive at Quest Diagnostics in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Dean Porter, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS-MN Past President

This year I will celebrate my 20th year as an ASCLS member, and I still remember the day at our Spring Collaborative meeting when I signed up. I was visiting with people that I knew from previous jobs and stopped by the ASCLS-Minnesota booth. They made a very good argument about why I should join ASCLS, and so I did! I’ve had memberships in other professional societies and really valued my time, but ASCLS has given me the most payback for my time and effort.

At our spring meeting in St. Cloud, Minnesota, at the end of April this year, one of the sessions had presentations from all the professional groups represented in the collaborative. This included representatives from six different laboratory organizations plus ASCLS. All of them gave very nice presentations about the strengths and opportunities of their respective groups, but I still came back to the thought of how great it would be for us all to be one big group; one big family.

“So many new roles and opportunities are right in front of us. We have new career pathways, and a professional society like ASCLS can help us find these new paths through mentorship and networking with colleagues.”

One of the comments that did bring us all together is how these meetings are our “Laboratory Family Reunion,” both at the state and national levels. It truly is a reunion and fun to see everyone—if only once per year—and no matter what group we are in, we have a common goal of providing the best possible quality in the laboratory, each and every day.

I’ve long been a proponent that all laboratory professionals should be under one organization, so we truly have the strongest voice possible. There are so many different organizations, but I feel that ASCLS is one of the strongest organizations and gives all laboratory professionals an equal voice, whether a member or not.

It seems to be in our nature to keep to ourselves in the laboratory, but we have such a powerful message to bring to the healthcare team and need to continue to develop programs to bring out those people with that passion for the patient. So many new roles and opportunities are right in front of us. We have new career pathways, and a professional society like ASCLS can help us find these new paths through mentorship and networking with colleagues. I believe this is something we need to continue to do so we have active and vibrant societies at all levels.

I am very thankful for the great network of friends and acquaintances I have garnered from my time in ASCLS and look forward to this continuing. Having the privilege to be a leader in the organization will be something I will hold out as one of the bigger growth opportunities in my career, and I appreciate the great network of people that helped me through it.

This group is always growing and is out there for all who jump into the pool. Encourage your friends to join and be active as this is our profession to nurture and make stronger. The world is run by those that show up, so we all need to come together and, as the Nike slogan goes, “Just Do It!”

Dean Porter is laboratory administrative director at Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia, Minnesota.


At the 2019 Joint Annual Meeting, ASCLS recognized 22 members who achieved the 50 Years of ASCLS Membership Milestone. This impressive list includes Susan Leclair and Cheryl Caskey, two members who personify the meaning of #Lab4Life.

Susan was a founder of and currently directs the Consumer Information Response Team, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary. Cheryl is a past president of ASCLS, current ASCLS Today editor, and the 2019 ASCLS Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

Thank you, Susan and Cheryl, for your 50 years of dedication to ASCLS and your continued active involvement!