Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the importance of professional organizations on lab social media pages in response to CMS saying that nurses can perform high complexity tests. It seems to me that there is a lot of confusion about how professional organizations work. People are concerned that nurses will always out lobby us on issues and as of right now that is a possibility, but the only reason for that is because nursing organizations have more members. Professional organizations survive on two main things: money and members. The more members an organization has, the louder its voice. The louder an organization’s voice is; the more likely it is that their wants and needs will be heard and respected. The money an organization has comes from member dues. Therefore, logically, more members means more money.
There are over 300,000 medical laboratory professionals in the United States, but ASCLS only has about 9,000 members. That works out to about 3%. Sad, right? I know there are multiple professional organizations a lab professional could join (all of them are great), but remember ASCLS is the largest lab organization that represents all aspects of the clinical lab and represents just clinical laboratory professionals and not pathologists as well.
If you are on the fence about joining or not sure if you want to renew your ASCLS membership, here are just some reasons why you should strongly consider joining.
Representation on Capitol Hill
ASCLS has a full-time lobbyist in Washington, DC who constantly keeps eye on legislative issues for us and fights for our best interest every day. Our lobbyist updates our Government Affairs Committee (GAC) about current laboratory legislation, and the committee then passes this information out to members. ASCLS also has a Political Action Committee (PAC), which raises money for our lobbying efforts. You can experience ASCLS’ legislative efforts first hand each year at the ASCLS Legislative Symposium in March.
ASCLS-sponsored meetings are a great way to network with others in the profession. Attending a meeting can help you meet a new potential employer or employee, a vendor for a new instrument or even just a new friend. Meetings occur on the state, regional and national level, so there is always a networking opportunity within reach. While anyone can attend, ASCLS members always receive discounted rates. Each year at the national level, ASCLS hosts the Legislative Symposium, the Clinical Laboratory Educators’ Conference (CLEC) and the National Meeting, which includes the Clinical Lab Expo. In addition to networking, meetings are a great way to gain continuing education (CE) credits.
Members have access to hundreds of CE programs on a variety of topics that are offered at low cost— in some cases free. ASCLS also supports the education of our future professionals through thousands of dollars in grants and scholarships each year.
Being a part of a professional organization is so much more than paying dues and then receiving a few mass emails and a newsletter each month. Next time you find a copy of ASCLS Today in your mailbox, do yourself a favor and take the time to read it. You will be surprised with how much information you find inside. Just as we remind people during election time that, if you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain, the same holds true for professional laboratory organizations. You can make a difference in the laboratory profession just by signing up.