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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

I am Keeping My ASCP License

Published March 14, 2010 4:04 PM by Glen McDaniel

 I am keeping my ASCP license.

ASCP does not offer licensure, of course. I know that. But neither do any of the national agencies offering personnel certification in clinical laboratory science.  Certification is a voluntary credential; you go to school, you graduate with a degree, you sit for an examination and  when you pass you are entitled to use some initials behind your name. One cannot be arrested for not having that credential or for falsely holding himself out to the public/patients/administrators as a laboratory professional.

The lack of licensure in many states, plus the loose use of the term "license" has added to the confusion of employers in general and human resources personnel in particular. Most laboratories worth their salt will not hire a laboratorian that is not at least "registry-eligible." But unless your state has personnel licensure, the laboratory could in fact legally ignore this common practice, and hire anyone.

Last year, CMS sent out a clarification memo to its inspectors directing that inspectors need to verify the educational credentials of testing personnel. It's not sufficient to have a card showing MT(ASCP) , CLS (NCA), MLT (AMT) etc in the personnel file. There must be documentation that the academic degree was verified as being authentic. This can be proven through the actual degree, official transcript or similar instrument. It can be done by the organization itself or by a credible third party that does credential verification.

CMS then indicated to "deemed" agencies like CAP and the Joint Commission that they must also check for such primary verification of education credentials in order to continue to be "deemed" by CMS. So CAP inspectors will be more aggressive in checking for verification of educational qualifications as well.

Human resource departments will become very confused when they try to verify credentials and see a certificate with an expiration date that has passed. Checking with the certification agency they might be told the laboratorian is "inactive." Well, thanks to our help in adding to the confusion, HR will almost certainly say "your license has expired, you cannot work."

Until recently, only NCA required its certificants to receive CEUs in order to maintain their certification. Others like ASCP granted "certification-for-life."  Technically, your certification (active or otherwise) proves you are a "real" clinical laboratorian and validation cannot be revoked for nonpayment of dues even after expiration.

I choose to keep most of my certifications and many professional memberships up to date, despite the expense; partially because of the work I do, but also because I want to maintain competency and relevance. It is in my DNA to be current and to put my money where my mouth is. For example, I was always current with NCA and CSMLS (the Canadian  CLS agency). Since NCA folded, I have transferred my US certification to ASCP. So as a proud professional I for one will maintain my ASCP license,  er, I mean "certification."

What about you?

 

17 comments

Im totally confused I have read a few things on the internet about the ASCP and being certified. Still not understanding can someone explain a little better.

RO curtis November 12, 2013 1:51 AM
chicago IL

Interesting comments. Would someone please answer a question foor me? I went back to school later in life for my RN, originally graduated from the one year MLA program in 1972, worked as a lab technician for over 20 years prior to nursing, decided to get my MLT(ASCP) certification after obtaining an ADN and Associate in General Education. I went through a lot of red tape over the last few years to get permission to sit for the MLT registry, but it was worth it to me. I passed the MLT so now I am ASCP certified. So I am now an RN, MLT(ASCP) which I am very proud of. I was asked by my current employer how I wanted my business card to read. Should it read RN, MLT(ASCP) or just RN, MLT since we do not specify the state of our licensure as an RN with RN(NCBON)? Hope this makes sense, and hope someone can give me the correct answer. Thanks, and very proud to become MLT(ASCP) certified. It is, and has been, the standard for as long as I can remember.          

Gail May 19, 2013 7:42 AM
NC

Need basic information on how to get my ascp license since I graduated with a BS in biology and have been working in laboratory for the pass 4 hrs.

Caseta Mayers, Clinical pathology - Fish technologist, Union November 22, 2011 12:42 AM
Union NJ

Josh:

At this point there are no plans for AMT and ASCP to merge. ASCP ceritifes the lion's share of  laboratorians, but AMT has a very specific philosophy of certification of laboratorians by laboratorians (not pathologists). Also AMT is a pretty lucrative business as it stands-certifying MTs, MLTs, foreign-trained laboratorians overseas, medical assistants, dental assistants and a slew of others. It is unlikley they would give that up (at least in the short term).

If AMT members are interested in unification they need to lobby AMT leadership directly.

Glen McDaniel May 27, 2010 10:20 PM

WILL ASCP AND AMT MERGE?

JOSH P May 23, 2010 2:24 PM

Unity, with all due respect, you have little idea what you are talking about.

Here in Minnesota our licensure effort is giving great support (both monetary and otherwise) by BOTH ASCP and ASCLS to help us out with this. Maybe you should check out what the organizations are doing and get involved before you complain from the sidelines.

To "Dream on", I am SO glad ASCP and NCA merged. For you to say NCA should have picked AAB makes me shake my head. I myself want nothing to do with AAB as AAB is opposing our licensure effort here in Minnesota and made SEVERAL untrue claims.

AAB opposes our effort as we have it where one needs a 4 years degree to be a MLS (not including those grandfathered in) and AAB wants us to lower that to those with the AA degree can be a MLS, those lowering our standards.

The way I feel is there should be a grandfather clause (like our bill provides) but from a certain point out, standards should be in place. AAB has a problem with this, so with that, I have a problem with AAB.

That said, it is an upward battle as it is, and I'm glad to be involved with ASCP and ASCLS as I have watched them work hard on our efforts. For those complaining about stuff, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Unity, be like the user name you picked and get involved. There ARE LOTS of things going on and you can be a part of it if you choose to. The real question is, do you want to?

Timothy Brown, MLS April 1, 2010 5:56 PM

Unity, with all do respect, you have little idea what you are talking about.

Here in Minnesota our licensure effort is giving great support (both monetary and otherwise) to help us out wit this. Maybe you should check out what the organiztions are doing and get involved before you complain from the sidelines.

To "Dream on", I am SO glad ASCP and NCA merged. For you to say NCA should have picked AAB makes me shake my head. I myself want nothing to do with AAB as AAB is opposing our licensure effort here in Minnesota and made SEVERAL untrue claims.

AAB opposes our effort as we have it where one needs a 4 years degree to be a MLS (not including those grandfathered in) and AAB wants us to lower that to those with the AA degree can be a MLS, those lowering our standards.

The way I feel is there should be a grandfather clause (like our bill provides) but from a certain point out, standards should be in place. AAB has a problem with this, so with that, I have a problem with AAB.

That said, it is an upward battle as it is, and I'm glad to be involved with ASCP ansd ASCLS as I have watched them work hard on our efforts. For those complaining about stuff, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Unity, be like the user name you picked and get involved. There ARE LOTS of things going on and you can be a part of it if you choose to. The real question is, do you want to?

Timothy Brown, MLS(ASCP) April 1, 2010 5:46 PM

SO THE HEALTHCARE BILL HAS PASSED

THERE ARE GOING TO BE 35 MILLION MORE PATIENTS IN OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.

OUR TEST COUNT WILL GO UP AND OUR CENSUS WILL GO UP, BUT OUR REINBURSEMENTS ARE DECREASING.

SO THEY ARE SAYING WE WILL HAVE TO WORK MORE, WITH LESS PAY!!

AND TO MY PREVIOUS POST I LIKE TO ADD, THE ASCP AND THE ASCLS ARE WORTHLESS ORGANIZATIONS.  BOTH HAVE DONE NOTHING TO CREATE STANDARDS IN THE LABORATORY LIKE OTHER ANCILLARY FIELDS

UNITY BS CLS (NCA), MT (AMT), MT (ASCP) March 22, 2010 6:23 PM

Guys listen! You guys can complain and have a petty party all you want, nothing's gonna change! See how many people respond to these issues? Fewbodies! All of your assertions are very true since the time immemorial and will stay that way for your career life. Where are the officers of these existing professional bodies- can anybody respond to these complains? Of course they won't. They get by with this culture for decades, what else can we expect? The horn and/ or the tree is getting long and big, nobody can cut it anymore, I repeat NOBODY!... so stop paying all your dues as Robin said! NCA/ASCLS should've join AMT, HEW and ABB not ASCP and don't give me that BULLCRAP that the merger is a good start! This is not negativity as what others that will follow say but the gaddang honest truth! And spare me about that bulls..it mighty initial after your name because I've worked with a lot of dumb people with both either or initials. Sickening!

DREAM ON !, Member, American Society of Fragmented Lab Technol March 22, 2010 2:51 AM
OK

Hello All,

With yet another Laboratory Week upon us, I still feel the nearly total ignorance with which the general public views what I, a MT(ASCP) for nearly 30 years experience, does for a living.

Once I say my particular duties don't include phlebotomy, I receive a puzzled stare, and a polite "oh, how nice".

I volunteer at a local AIDS/HIV service org. If the topic of the various tests available comes up, I might relate that I not only know about many tests, but have actually performed them. Even so, I'm treated as if I merely press the start button.

It is with some true regret that I've finally left the field. I still receive Advance, and even peruse the want ads at times. These ads have become quite enticing, with promises of good benefits, flexible shifts, wonderful locations, and a friendly, camaraderie among staff and admin.

However, I quickly shake my head as I recall my authentic experiences of low pay, lack of recognition, shortage of staff, ever increasing workload, and general lack of professional  respect which describe the reality of most of the positions I've worked.

Mitchell Hirsch

MT(A.S.C.P.)

Mitchell Hirsch, Blood Bank - MT(ASCP), NONE March 21, 2010 10:02 PM
BOSTON MA

This is a tough one. I hear what Glen is  saying that as a proud professional he wants to keep up his credentials. Most of us dont care to open a book after college. We need to act like professionals and keep up to date.

To the writer Unity I have to say I disagree about ASCLS. It is ASCP that is the BIG problem. For years they have treated us like second class citizens yet we run to them to sit their exam and to proudly use their name. They have even fought licensure in states like Illinois, Massachusets and Minnesota. They claim we dont need licensure. Of course they want us to be non-licensed servants to pathologists.

Anyone ever asked ASCP why pathologists need licenses? They dont treat patients. Why cant other people do the work pathologists do? I bet that argument would get their attention.

Most of us have not joined ASCLS. Why not? We stand by the sidelines and look. But we still expect them to be strong and to speak for us. If only 10% of us join ASCLS how can we expect them to be that strong?  We need to join, pay our dues and then TELL them what we want.

Instead we pay ASCP and the pathologists they represent and expect ASCLS to fight for us. Just for once,  I would like us to tell ASCP, I will not pay your dues unless you change your politics and support us.

Robin S MT March 21, 2010 2:39 PM
Omaha NE

THE ASCLS IS A WORTHLESS ORGRANIZATION, THEY HAVE DONE NOTHING FOR THE PROFESSION. WE STILL HAVE THE LOWEST WAGE AMONG ALL THE ANCILLARY PROFESSIONS AND NO NATIONAL LICENSURE

WE NEED TO CREATE A ORGRANIZATION THAT IS PROACTIVE, THAT WILL ACTIVELY LOBBY STATE SIDE AND NATIONALLY FOR A LICENSE SO PEOPLE CAN NOT BE ON THE JOB TRAINED. THEY HAVE A GRADUATED FROM A NATIONALLY ACRED SCHOOL AND TAKE A NATIONAL LICENSE LIKE EVERY OTHER ANCILLARY PROFESSION (RN, PT, PHARMACY, OT).

WE HAVE NOONE TO ADVOCATE FOR US THIS IS WHY WE ARE IN THE SITUATION WE ARE IN

UNITY BS CLS (NCA), MT (AMT), MT (ASCP) March 17, 2010 3:57 PM

The ASCP lobbyies, but only for pathologist, they are not lobbying for the laboratorian. We need a agency that lobbies state level and nationally to create licensure in more states.

This is the only why we can create standards in the LAB, we need a voice, and we need a organization to lobby for us. If we do not create standards in the laboratory, labs are going to start with on the job training with totally destroyes the MT/CLS degree.

These rural areas cannot fill position, but instead of hiring travelers and inticing canadates with signon bonuses and relocation, they are just doing on the job training because we can NOT FORCE management to hire qualified individuals because of state licensure.

Can they hire a RN without a license? Xray tech? Pharmacist? CAN THEY DO ON THE JOB TRAINING FOR ANY OF THOSE PROFESSION NOW? WHY IS THE LAB DIFFERENT?

Standards March 17, 2010 1:31 PM

This is a really interesting one. Now that there is a (or almost a) single accrediting agency for us, one would think this would help in receiving greater recognition of our department for our administrators and everyone, students and professionals alike, to recognize our important role we  play as clinicians. While there are many issues going on in our field as far as personnel shortages, the healthcare insurance issues, and a huge concern as stated earlier in this post, the aging members of our profession, which will only add to our lack of technologists.  Now on to one of our greatest challenges: What can we do to alleviate this problem? Start with uniformity of licensing and credentialing. Depending on the facility size, volume, etc., increase wages as necessary to meet at least cost of living requirements. Increasing awareness for incoming university students to the clinical laboratory profession by recruiting, marketing, etc.  The ASCP/NCA merger, if you will, is a great step for us as laboratorians, but more needs to be done to move our profession forward. We can stick together as a team, as a profession and make this happen.

Robert Little, Laboratory - MBA, Medical Technologist, Baptist Health March 17, 2010 1:25 PM
Jacksonville FL

Glenn,

I will keep my ASCP certification just to be able to move around.

As long as the jobs say "ASCP PREFERRED" , there is no way around it.

Until lab directors start recognizing a credential that is for the laboratorian, and the jobs are advertising for that lab credential,  the ASCP will be the gold standard.

Blue March 17, 2010 1:10 AM

Angela:

You make a good point. There is a desperate shortage of clinical laboratorians and the shortage is exacerbated by the facts that healthcare administrators are not even aware of the shortage, the field is dominated by aging baby boomers close to retirement, and some younger laboratorians are becoming disillusioned by the lack of recognition and moving on to other fields.

Legendary tennis great Arthur Ashe was asked to explain why as an African American he experienced prejudice from unexpected sources like other nationalities, new immigrants and even other minorities. He said in a resigned way, "It's human nature, everyone needs someone to look down on." Sad as that observation is, it is sometimes true.

We should make it possible for individuals from a variety of backgrounds to become certified. The exact route (and prerequisites) are up for debate, but attracting non-traditional graduates should be another way of dealing with the personnel shortage.

Nursing has always allowed a variety of routes to the RN license. Many nurses dont even have  a degree. I dont suggest returning to diploma  level training for clinical lab science, but nurses allow very creative ways to move from RN to BSN, RN to MSN and so on. So at the end of the day they are all RNs. They dont allow a variety of non-licensed individuals to call themselves nurses, nor do they hire non-nurses in nursing roles.  Instead, they make it achievable to become a nurse.

I think there is a lesson in there for us, somewhere.

Glen McDaniel March 14, 2010 8:48 PM

Our profession is in trouble.  As a Laboratory Director in a rural setting, it has been near impossible to find certified technologists.  On the job training of BS educated people has been a solution that works.  Although it is not the best situation, it is not because these individuals are not high quality employees.  I feel sad that in some cases they are made to feel like second class citizens and not accepted by many in the profession.  

Angela March 14, 2010 7:01 PM

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