ASCLS Today Volume 34, Number 1

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Volume 34, Number 1


Cindy Johnson, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS President

Merriam-Webster defines advocacy as the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.

Advocacy is one of the strategic pillars of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS). The Society works towards actively shaping the environment for laboratory professionals to be key advocates for patient safety and healthcare quality.

ASCLS offers the information, tools, and resources that laboratory professionals need to become effective advocates. Through championing the laboratory profession, laboratory professionals give a voice to the essential role that they play in providing high-quality, affordable laboratory services. With energetic participation in advocacy, every laboratory professional can help the profession to improve and move to higher levels.

Patient Safety Matters
On the ASCLS website you will find information from the work of the Patient Safety Committee that will aide you in enhancing your role as an advocate for patient safety. The Patient Safety Committee is continuously looking for volunteers to work on patient safety initiates. We need all laboratory professionals building a culture of patient safety, not only in the laboratory, but throughout the healthcare facility.

The Road to Understanding
The Road to Understanding Campaign was developed by the ASCLS Promotion of the Profession Committee and aims to share your stories and encourage other laboratory professionals to be strong patient advocates.

Tell your story of how you educated or elevated our profession to another healthcare colleague, such as explaining why a specimen must be collected correctly, the consequences of skipped or ignored quality control, or other important topics. Describe to us an interaction where the laboratory’s role in patient care was emphasized. What You Do DOES Matter!

Email your story to Eric Stanford to be included on the The Bench Connection blog.

Edith Burlingame gives a tour of the laboratory to Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer
CentraCare Laboratory Services: Edith Burlingame, MLS, gives a tour of the laboratory to Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer.

Laboratory Policy
Another avenue to be a laboratory advocate is by becoming involved in laboratory policy setting. The ASCLS Government Affairs Committee (GAC), in collaboration with the ASCLS executive vice president and legislative consultant, ensures the public policy environment—which includes both legislative and regulatory—is conducive to laboratory professionals working fully within their scope of practice where it will improve patient outcomes. This includes pressing for high standards that include state licensure and stronger rules on certification.

The annual Laboratory Legislative Symposium held in Washington, D.C., in mid-March provides an excellent opportunity to become a “labvocate.” Through this ASCLS tradition that originated in 1989, the members of the Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), Association of Genetic Technologists (AGT), American Medical Technologists (AMT), the National Society for Histotechnology (NSH), and the Philippine Association of Medical Technologists-USA (PAMET-USA) meet with their representatives and senators on Capitol Hill as a unified front on behalf of our profession. Each year these leading organizations urge their members and leaders to come to Washington to provide a visible and informed voice and to make our concerns known inside Congress.

The Legislative Symposium provides guided education on issues affecting the laboratory profession. Attendees are coached on presentation techniques so they can effectively talk to their congressional representatives during their appointments on Capitol Hill. They are well received in the congressional offices, and often the legislative personnel are familiar with the vital role of laboratory professionals, as they or their family members have been impacted by laboratory test results.

Attendees return home from Washington with first-hand knowledge of the political system in action and confidence that they make a difference. To preserve momentum, we encourage laboratory professionals to keep this line of communication open to our congressional leaders as it is an invaluable tool for change. Several of our members have even invited their representatives and senators to come tour their laboratories when they are back in the district. This is a great opportunity to have them see the important work you do every day to improve the lives of our patients.

Please join us at the 2020 Legislative Symposium, which will be held March 16-17 at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia. WE NEED YOU, LABVOCATE!

Cindy Johnson is senior director of laboratory services at CentraCare Health in St. Cloud, Minnesota.


Stephanie Mihane, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS Region VIII Director

Advocacy is active support of a cause. ASCLS advocacy can be understood as standing up and speaking out for the collective good, voicing concerns of the members, and collaborating with individuals or groups to provide support in maintaining our expertise and healthy patient outcomes. It is up to us, as members of ASCLS, the professional society for laboratory professionals, to identify the causes, issues, or areas of need that matter to us. Then we must discern how, through advocacy, we can raise awareness of the profession, promote our importance, and advance our cause of providing quality and safe patient care.

Take a moment to reflect on your personal and professional interests. What causes, issues, or areas of need really matter to you? What positive outcomes in the profession or community you serve do you want to help advance? For what do you want to advocate? What knowledge and expertise do you need to be effective in your advocacy?

These are questions we, as professionals, should be asking ourselves. We do not all have authority to change others, but we do have influence, the power, and/or the capacity to cause a positive effect on others in indirect or intangible ways.

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”
—Mahatma Gandhi

Influence involves advocacy, and to be effective in advocating for change and better outcomes for individuals, communities, and society at large, we need to be engaged. Influence can be understood as the power to cause change, preferably change that positively affects others or advances an important issue.

Important to advocacy is a strong professional organization like ASCLS, supporting the medical laboratory science profession by helping us keep pace with fast-moving changes in techniques and technology, influencing healthcare policy, advocating for quality care, providing connections with peers, and assuring consistent, relevant expertise through education. ASCLS is critical for generating the energy, flow of ideas, and proactive work needed to maintain a healthy profession that advocates for the needs of its members and patients and the trust of society.

Credible leaders influence others to be the best they can be in whatever they are doing, and we follow the leaders of ASCLS. But they cannot be the only advocates for the profession and Society. It is up to all of us to be advocates and it can be as simple as presenting a positive attitude and always assuming positive intent when interacting with other health professionals.

We, individually and as part of the ASCLS professional family, hold the power, the influence, the expertise, and the passion to be the best advocates for ourselves and other medical laboratory scientists.

We call ASCLS a “grassroots” organization—we lead by and for the “every day, in the trenches, boots on the ground” laboratorian. We must each take the time—and with the mindset of our importance to our laboratory co-workers, members of the healthcare team, and the patients—to represent and advocate for ASCLS and our profession. Those of you reading this are already advocates: you are members of your professional society, you are reading this newsletter, and participating in activities to promote our importance to healthcare. Now we need to engage (active verb) others to speak, act, and represent our interests.

I am a point of care coordinator, going on 12 years. This position has fulfilled my calling as an advocate. Every hour of every day, I am a medical laboratory scientist, projecting a positive image of the profession, understanding my unique expertise and the importance of imparting this knowledge to other healthcare professionals, assuring safe, quality patient care. I strive to represent the laboratory as a compassionate, yet compliance-oriented, partner with nursing and providers, supplying resources and expertise necessary for them to perform their care effectively and efficiently.

“Walk the walk.” “Be the face of the profession.” Venture out of the laboratory, your constituent society, and region and advocate for the importance of the profession and our Society. Be the change you want to see—you have the power—now take the time!

Stephanie Mihane is point of care coordinator at Kaiser Permanente in Aurora, Colorado.


Dana Bostic, MBA, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM, CLEC 2020 Steering Committee Chair; and Hassan Aziz, PhD, FACSs, MLS(ASCP)CM, CLEC 2020 Steering Committee Vice Chair

Over 500 clinical laboratory science educators, industry partners, and friends from across the country—including around the globe—will come together next month in Orlando, Florida, for the 36th Annual Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference. We are elated to serve as chairs for this upcoming meeting, and on behalf of the 2020 CLEC Steering Committee, we are thrilled about this upcoming annual conference, February 27-29.

The CLEC 2020 Program includes more than 20 poster presentations.

“The CLEC 2020 program is full of diverse, thought-provoking sessions designed to inspire educators and to impart positive take-aways that can be applied at your respective academic institutions.”

The committee worked hard to put together a dynamic program filled with sessions to inform and inspire meeting attendees. This annual event is the premier educational conference for faculty, administrators, directors, advisers, and others in clinical laboratory science education. Whether this is your first time attending CLEC or you are an experienced CLEC attendee, we endeavored to create a program that offers a variety of sessions that will cater to the needs of all attendees.

We heard requests from previous attendees for more content related to program directors, first-time instructors, and clinical site placement, to name a few. These topics (and more) are reflected in the full program available online.


New Educator’s Workshop (NEW). We are excited that NEW will be offered on Thursday, February 27, in the morning before CLEC begins. This two-and-a-half-hour workshop will address some of the pressing needs of those new to educator positions in clinical laboratory science-related programs. Presented by the ASCLS Committee for Education Programs and Initiatives (CEPI)—a subcommittee of the ASCLS Education Scientific Assembly (ESA)—NEW is designed to assist early-career educators with their transition from the clinical laboratory into teaching roles within academia and support their professional development. NEW attendees will have the opportunity to engage with presenters and fellow educators via interactive presentations, discussions, and peer-to-peer learning activities.

Session Formats. In an effort to accommodate the scheduling of more dynamic sessions, the Steering Committee opted to transition from 90-minute plenary sessions to 60-minute session blocks. The program includes a number of speed learning session blocks, made up of three 20-minute speed learning presentations. The goal of the speed learning format is to highlight innovative topics and to pair relevant content within the allocated session block. The number of general sessions has been limited to further diversify the session offerings for the overall CLEC program.


A session at CLEC 2019 included a team-building exercise.
CLEC attendees are encouraged to ask questions and interact with presenters.

Networking Bubbles. So long, Luncheon Round Tables. Hello, Networking Bubbles! We will have designated rooms available during our Friday lunch slot to allow for networking and conversations to take place. We recognize the importance of building (and maintaining) relationships with fellow clinical laboratory educators from across the country and beyond.

Networking opportunities, such as the Networking Bubbles, are built into the CLEC program to provide attendees the chance to further engage with your CLEC family members and to meet new colleagues.

Closing Keynote—Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Jerrihlyn McGee, DNP, RN, CNE, the first vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusion from the University of Kansas Medical Center. Dr. McGee serves as the chief diversity officer and her responsibilities include coordination of diversity-related initiatives for all three schools at the University of Kansas Medical Center (School of Health Professions, School of Medicine, and School of Nursing) across all three campuses located in Kansas City, Salina, and Wichita in the state of Kansas. She has been nationally recognized as an expert on cultural competency and workplace civility.


CLEC is still the premier annual educational event for clinical laboratory science educators. This is the place to be for development of innovative teaching techniques, tools to enhance instructional skills, resources for managing change in an ever-changing profession, learning the latest trends and educational strategies, and of course networking with fellow educators. The CLEC 2020 program is full of diverse, thought-provoking sessions designed to inspire educators and to impart positive take-aways that can be applied at your respective academic institutions.

We are excited and look forward to seeing everyone at CLEC 2020 in the most magical place on Earth! It is our hope that this meeting will be an engaging experience shared by all attendees. Believe us when we say that this is the meeting you do not want to miss, and CLEC is the place to be.

Online registration is currently open through February 13; you may also register onsite. See you in Orlando!

Dana Bostic is assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences at the University of Kansas Medical Center School of Health Professions in Kansas City, Kansas.

Hassan Aziz is associate dean for academic, faculty, and student affairs, interim chair of the Department of Diagnostic and Health Sciences, and professor of medical laboratory science at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Health Professions in Memphis, Tennessee.

Defining Our Identity

Jennifer Bushnell, MEd, MT(ASCP)

The setting makes no difference, whether business or social. Most of us would agree that a person’s name is one of his or her most valued forms of identity. To use someone’s name correctly is a sign of respect and good manners. It feels good when people remember our names.

On the other hand, how does a person feel when their name is mispronounced or needs repeating several times? Some might say they feel slighted or perhaps insulted. Similar feelings may be elicited when professional names are used incorrectly—a problem laboratory professionals have struggled with for decades. To journey forward in defining our identity, we must first understand our past.

“A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
– Dale Carnegie

Name Number 1: Medical Technologist - MT(ASCP)
One of the first nationally recognized names for laboratory professionals was medical technologist. The American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) first used this name in 1928. In the early years, the primary goal of the ASCP’s Board of Registry (BOR) was to ensure standardization of the rapidly growing number of laboratory personnel. During this same time-period, ASCP was responsible for developing the first national certification exam for laboratory professionals. After successfully passing the ASCP BOR exam, graduates were permitted to use MT(ASCP) after their names.1

Name Number 2: Clinical Laboratory Scientist - CLS(NCA)
As the number of medical technologists continued to grow, laboratory professionals sought independence from ASCP. In 1933 the American Society of Clinical Laboratory Technicians (ASCLT) was formed but was later renamed the American Society of Medical Technologists (ASMT) to maintain the original name, medical technologist. After working together for several years, critical disagreements began to arise between ASCP and ASMT concerning school accreditations and certification exams, which were still mandated by ASCP.

In 1973, ASCP relinquished its school accreditation duties to an independently operated and governed board, the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS). A few years later, due to unrelenting differences, ASMT removed its representatives from the ASCP BOR and established the National Certification Agency (NCA) for Medical Laboratory Personnel, which allowed independent certification of laboratory professionals, who were now referred to as clinical laboratory scientists. Any graduate successfully passing the NCA exam would now use CLS(NCA) to signify successful completion from an accredited laboratory program.1

Name Number 3: Medical Laboratory Scientist - MLS(ASCP)
In 2009, after 30 years of certification disagreements, a long-awaited merger between ASCP BOR and NCA CLS finally consolidated the national certification process. This unification produced the ASCP Board of Certification (BOC), consequently dissolving the NCA. Graduates using older credentials, MT(ASCP) and CLS(NCA), were encouraged to demonstrate professional unity by assuming the merger’s updated credentials: MLS(ASCP)CM. Graduates certified prior to January 1, 2004, are allowed to participate in ASCP’s Credential Maintenance Program (CMP). Any person choosing not to participate may continue to use their original MT(ASCP) credential.2 Graduates who chose not to transfer their CLS(NCA) certification to the BOC can no longer use CLS(NCA), nor can a person who fails to complete ASCP’s CMP use MLS(ASCP).2 Any graduate successfully passing the new ASCP BOC exam will now be referred to as medical laboratory scientist, with MLS(ASCP)CM following the graduate’s last name.3

Chart of names of programs listed as NAACLS accredited MLS Programs
Chart 1: Names of programs listed as NAACLS accredited MLS Programs, n = 236

MLS Program Names
NAACLS lists 236 accredited “Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) Programs” on its website. A review of these programs revealed that many continue to identify with the older professional names. In fact, only a little over half (59 percent) of the accredited programs were using the most current name, Medical Laboratory Science. Twenty-six percent were using the NCA name, Clinical Laboratory Science, while 11 percent were using the older ASCP term, Medical Technology. An additional 4 percent chose to use a more creative approach by incorporating a combination of two or more names. (Chart 1)3

Additional Certifications
The focus of this article has been to examine the history of laboratory professionals earning a bachelor’s degree and the origins of the BOC process. Additional certifications are now available to laboratory professionals, including MT(AMT) and MT(AAB), offered by the American Medical Technologists and American Association of Bioanalysts, respectively. Laboratory professionals with associate degrees, often referred to as medical laboratory technicians (MLT), have had similar credential changes. Readers are encouraged to explore the ASCLS website for additional information pertaining to name changes, credentials, and the history of all laboratory professionals.

With each generation of laboratory professionals, we have proudly shared who and what we are with the public. However, to truly unify and improve the public’s perception of our profession, we should consider the unintended effects of multiple name use.

When a prospective student searches the internet for “medical laboratory science,” what does he or she find? Can we really expect the public to know that medical technology is the same as clinical laboratory science? And, what if someone is looking up the national organization for medical laboratory scientists; will they figure out that ASCLS is what they’re looking for?

From frog-incubated pregnancy tests to molecular genetics, it goes without saying—we have proven ourselves worthy of recognition in the healthcare industry. We are truly a unique group of hard-working professionals with much to offer the world. Those before us have instinctively paved the way for sustained success. If not now, when will we recognize the importance of one unified name?


  1. Delwiche FA. Mapping the literature of clinical laboratory science. J Med Libr Assoc. 2003;91(3):303–310.
  2. Single Certification Means Goodbye to Med Techs (MTs) and Clinical Lab Scientists (CLSs)! The Dark Daily, Serving Clinical Labs and Pathology Groups. Accessed November 18, 2019.
  3. Find a Program, MLS. National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. Accessed October 28, 2019.

Jennifer Bushnell is an MLS program director at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, with more than 30 years of experience in the field.


Katie Napier, ASCLS Developing Professionals Forum Region IV Representative

Katie Napier and fellow students from the University of Cincinnati Medical Laboratory Science program pose in front of the U.S. Capitol during the 2019 Legislative Symposium in Washington, D.C.

When I’ve asked my classmates at the University of Cincinnati how they knew about the medical laboratory science (MLS) major, they often say they didn’t know about it until years into their college career. Many of the students in our program transferred from another science major or even completed a bachelor’s degree and then realized that medical laboratory science was more fitting for their interests and came back to school for the certificate program. Why aren’t students hearing about the laboratory science profession before choosing their college?

I realized the magnitude of laboratory scientist shortages when I attended the 2019 Legislative Symposium in Washington, D.C. One of the issues we discussed and brought to Capitol Hill was an attempt to establish a program of scholarships and loan repayment for students in exchange for obligated service in a shortage area. These programs and scholarships would be similar to the programs already in place for doctors and nurses. I have been thinking about this particular issue since I returned home from the Legislative Symposium and how I could personally advocate for my profession. As a developing professional in this allied health field, I feel that I have an obligation to be an advocate for a career about which I am excited. So, what have I been doing to be a voice of the profession, and what can we all do to reach future medical laboratory scientists before they have invested too much time and money into superfluous education?

Each year the Laboratory Legislative Symposium provides an excellent opportunity for medical laboratory and allied health professionals to raise awareness among government officials about the major issues we are faced with and attempt to lobby for change. This is an excellent way to raise visibility of the medical laboratory science profession. We can also raise visibility by getting involved within ASCLS. Attending the Joint Annual Meeting or any state meeting is an easy way to network with other professionals and stay up to date with current events and issues within the profession.

“It’s imperative that we all stay up to date with relevant issues, get involved in our communities, get involved in ASCLS, and take pride in our profession, as it is an essential part of providing quality medical care.”

Something else we can also do to advocate for our profession—and something I plan to implement—is speaking to teens in high school about medical laboratory science. As I mentioned before, many of my classmates didn’t know about MLS until years into their college career. If we can educate students about the profession before they make their college decisions, it would have a great impact on the interest in the field. That being said, with the shortages in clinical sites and programs that offer an MLS degree, it will take time before the clinical sites and hospitals can accommodate a high influx of students.

From my perspective, outlook for the career is looking promising. In our program, there has been increased interest from year to year in the major, as well as the certificate program. My short involvement thus far in ASCLS has taught me just how important advocacy is, not only with law-making officials, but also with prospective students. I am looking forward to participating in the 2020 Legislative Symposium, as well as continuing my involvement with ASCLS at the Ohio Collaborative Laboratory Conference and the ASCLS Joint Annual Meeting in Louisville. It’s imperative that we all stay up to date with relevant issues, get involved in our communities, get involved in ASCLS, and take pride in our profession, as it is an essential part of providing quality medical care.

Katie Napier is a senior in the medical laboratory science program at the University of Cincinnati.