Cindy Johnson, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS President, 2019-20
Kyle Riding, PhD, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS Secretary-Treasurer
Over the last several months, our ASCLS family has faced an unprecedented global emergency. Laboratory professionals from across the globe have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our professional family has continued to generate the results that drive medical decisions for patients. Similarly, all of you in this amazing family of colleagues continue to produce reliable data that helps assure good public health policy development across our communities.
Our true power as a community has come to the forefront of the national dialogue. While many people in the general public may not fully appreciate the complexities of our work, they certainly recognize our importance.
With this in mind, it is important to remember another important fact: there is great power in being uniquely you. We continually refer to ASCLS as a community or family. Like any group, it takes a variety of backgrounds and perspectives to build strength. Simple acts of sharing your story is a crucial part of building our strength. So, while we all can have a sense of pride about our profession’s impact, let us make sure we also spend time celebrating the differences that make us whole.
So how do our differences make us stronger? To answer that, let us think about some ways we are different and the power that has.
One difference we all share is our geography. While this Society has members in all 50 states, it also has members outside of the United States. Our geography shapes our personal experiences both inside and outside of the laboratory. Areas with larger, urban populations see different types of cases than those that are smaller and rural. Different demands and access to supplies happen due to our geographic differences as well. But when we all come together, we are able to take these differences and share them with one another. Each of us becomes stronger as we share those unique strengths and weaknesses with one another.
A second difference that can be found among us all is our professional role. Our membership is composed of students, new graduates, seasoned bench professionals, educators, administrators, and those working in industry-based settings. Each of these roles has a powerful and unique perspective that allows you to contribute in some way to patient care. We all started as students and were taught by educators. We went on as new graduates to become seasoned professionals. And some of us make positive impacts beyond the bench as administrators or in industry. Through all of these differences in professional roles, we are only able to form a stronger community when we come together as one.
A third way in which we are different is our opinions on professional issues. Our opinions are shaped by many factors, and sometimes it is hard to appreciate where we derive these differences. However, these differences of opinion matter because it opens our eyes to perspectives beyond our own that we may not realize existed. Even with differences in our opinions, our core values help us reconcile our feelings to achieve consensus. While in the midst of debate it can be hard to assume positive intentions from those who think differently. But we must remember we share similar values. These shared values that are focused on promoting the profession and improving patient outcomes make us stronger.
In closing, while we are all part of one family, never forget that being “uniquely you” has exceptional power; make sure you always celebrate differences. It helps make the collective voice stronger, and our voice is needed in society more than ever before. Let us not forget that we continue to march together to provide exceptional care to the patients and communities we serve.
Cindy Johnson is Senior Director of Laboratory Services at CentraCare in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Kyle Riding is Assistant Professor, Medical Laboratory Sciences, at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.