For the last 7 years I have had the pleasure of calling myself a medical laboratory scientist. While studying CLS at Texas State University, I was the typical idealistic student. I was elected Student Forum (SF) Chair based on campaign promises of single-handedly updating the ASCP certification exam with current and applicable questions and vows to bring our profession “out of the basement.” I said I would fight for licensure. I would recruit high schoolers into the field and that everyone who saw me wearing scrubs would know the difference between a nurse and a lab professional. During my term as student forum chair, I graduated, attended TACLS meetings, made suggestions for student-friendly sessions, and organized the social events as Hospitality Chair of the TACLS Annual Meeting-Austin 2008. The karaoke definitely had its memorable moments, but I simply didn’t make good on all of my campaign promises.
I have remained active in TACLS as Membership Chair, Webmaster, Board Member, and now President. What I have learned since those idealistic student days is that it takes a collective voice from a loud, persistent, and passionate group to make change. Licensure is so important to our profession and yet our collective voice has been just a squeak in the ears of legislators. The public as a whole doesn’t know what we do or how important we are to public health. The public certainly doesn’t know that those performing life-altering lab tests are NOT required to have a license in the state of Texas. Students continue to find CLS after years of changing majors, wasting money, or getting degrees without job prospects. Those hurdles that I promised to jump all those years ago are still in front of us. We have to work together to get over them.
At different times I have stepped back from my activism in TACLS. When I did, I found that there was something missing in my professional life. My work became a job. My passion would fade into apathy. But then spring would come around and with it, a road-trip to the TACLS Annual Meeting. Every single time this meeting recharged my laboratorian battery. Of course there is continuing education and inspiration from individuals that have taken their degree in laboratory science in a direction I didn’t know existed. Of course there is the chance to chat with the author of my college textbook. Of course there are stories about visiting labs in Russia, China, Haiti and Kenya. Of course all of those things are important to me, but I can honestly say that I have a BLAST at these meetings because of the life-long friends I have made through TACLS. This April, our group will gather in Houston once again to entertain and inspire one another. I’m proud to serve as the President of this organization because I believe in the value of our collective voice. I hope that this spring you find your inner idealistic CLS student at the TACLS Annual Meeting and your voice is added to ours.
If you are interested in presenting at the annual TACLS meeting in Houston, April 8-11, 2015 please fill out the following form. Instructions are included on the form. We would love to have you present!
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