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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

Membership Organizations Need to Step up Their Game

Published August 4, 2012 2:02 PM by Glen McDaniel

I have long advocated active membership in professional organizations. We need a strong unified voice to represent us, whether we are educating the public or speaking to a legislator. I also firmly believe that sitting back and expecting "others" to do the heavy lifting is both unrealistic and selfish.

Ok, now that I have said that (again!) I must take membership organizations to task as well. They need to step up to the plate in terms of recruitment, acting as a powerful advocate for members, forming  liaisons with  key stakeholders and decision makers; and, frankly, providing more value to members.

I am sitting here renewing my membership to one organization and suddenly realize that all I have got from them this year is a couple of publications, with very average editorial content. With all the information available on the Internet, through webinars and vendors, I have to think: what unique benefit am I getting for my  $90 annual fee? I have paid a total of almost $600 to four organizations for the benefit of saying I am a member in good standing. This is no chump change, especially in difficult economic times.

One lingering suspicion entertained by skeptics is that dues are not very good return on investment.  Another is that dues are being squandered on nonessentials.  Both are significant concerns that have not been addressed convincingly enough by most organizations.

Organizations cannot conduct business as usual. They can start by looking for operational efficiencies. For example, leadership meetings should be conducted mostly electronically, rather than in person to save the expenses of travel. Some operational  functions can be outsourced to a professional management company instead of hiring full time staff. Some organizations are already doing this, but this should be an ongoing process; revisited and adjusted periodically.

Our organizations should speak up more aggressively on a variety of health related issues; not just medical lab science. Whenever appropriate they should join forces with other professions ( e.g. through press releases, white papers, position papers, amicus briefs in lawsuits) so that our organizations gain recognition and credibility. Like other professions we should look for, and take advantage of, mutuality of interests wherever those exist.

Members should be surveyed periodically to get a sense of what they want; versus what they feel they are receiving. I don't recall being polled on this subject by three of my membership organizations anytime in the last five years. They just send reminders of annual dues, a few emails, a publication or two, a couple webinars (mostly costly) and that is the sum total of benefits.

As much as I carp on the benefits of memberships, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify the WIIFM (what's in it for me) for the average practitioner.  I would like to know what readers think. What would you like to see your professional organizations do for you? 

In what ways are the organizations not being responsive or proactive? Short of wishing "they" would increase your pay and make your life blissfully happy, what realistically should professional organizations offer in order for you to consider membership a good investment?


Glen can you find out from ASCP what the deal is. I too was certified by NCA before they decided to close. I was  happy to go with ASCP although I preferred NCA. I thought we would finally have one big certification agency ASCP.

I got the same notice from ASCP like Marie did telling me if I dont pay and submit CEUs I will no longer be certified. Excuse me?? How is this legal?  But that is their scam. Pay us to use the ASCP name. They offer me nothing at all. I feel like I am supporting a bunch of pathologists.

I really, really miss NCA.

Anonymous September 30, 2012 1:27 PM

I just received an email from ASCP today that has this message

If you were originally certified in August 2009 or re-certified in August 2009 by completing the Certification Maintenance Program (CMP), it’s time to submit your declaration form documenting completion of CMP to maintain your certification for the next three years. If you do not complete CMP, your certification will no longer be valid, and you will no longer be able to use the (ASCP) initials after your name.

So again this shows that ASCP is just renting out their credentials. I get nothing from them but I have to pay to keep using their initials.  So Troy if you are ASCP certified and you dont pay up you should not be using the ASCP credential.

Marie B., MLS (ASCP) August 21, 2012 11:53 PM
Tampa FL


You are partly right. I was NCA certified. When ASCP took over from NCA, I was made MLS(ASCP). ASCP  certified me for 3 years and told me that to continue using that MLS title I will have  to do some CEUs and pay a fee next year. So that means that I cannot legally continue to  use MLS unless I pay them.

Here's the deal: some organizations like ASCP and AMT are BOTH membership AND certification agencies together,  while ASCLS and AACC are membership only. I dont get them mixed up. I know the difference.

ASCLS and AMT now want you to pay to continue to use those letters after your name. I know one person who has to give his lab director and HR a new AMT card every year. They see "expires Sept 2012" and insisst on a new card as if it was  a license. So whether my friend wants to be a member of AMT or not she basically has to pay AMT for a piece of paper to work.

It's a big scam if you ask me.

I also agree with the ASCPi thing by the way. they certifiy people form all over teh world in their native country. I think those people are glad to get a US piece of paper. I hope US employers dont think they are equal to the regular ASCP certification if those ASCPi ever come to the USA

So as I said, big, big scam and ASCP  is the worst..

Jeremy P. August 18, 2012 9:59 PM
Fort Lauderdale FL

Barbara, it is a common misconception but you do not need to be an ASCP member to use the title MT(ASCP) or MLS(ASCP), membership and certification are two completely different entity.  Having membership to ASCP does not mean the person hold ASCP BOC certification.  I had MLS(ASCP) certification and is not an ASCP member, for the same reason.  I had talked to many who stated they would whether pay the due then jeopardize their certification.  I know another phlebotomy certification agency use the same tactic where they try to confuse people about the difference between membership and certification. ASCP seems to allow the confusion to go on in order to generate revenue.  ASCP had been using the excuse of CLS shortage to expand it ASCPi program. ASCPi no doubt will generate significant revenue for ASCP but most likely at the expense of current US CLS.  ASCP had already lobby California to recognize  ASCPi.  ASCP had failed to determine the impact on how expanding the ASCPi program would impact the current CLS workforce here in US, especially in term of support for CLS training program and salary.  Even the visa process discourage ASCPi CLS to come work in US, with the advance of technology, it is very possible to setup remote operation similar to teleradiology where slides, results are read/verify remotely in other part of the world.  ASCP sole focus on revenue had really hurt the laboratory profession.  If they want to help the profession they would be spending money/resource that are currently being use in the ASCPi program in the US to promote the lab profession.

Troy Percival August 18, 2012 12:08 AM

Why cant the professional organizations like ASCLS and ASCP offer member discounts for things we buy a lot like gas or big stores or auto insurance or stuff like that?

It is bad enough we get nothing for membership but they could use their bargaining power to get discounts and pass it on to us. I bet some folks would join just for the discounts alone.

Brandon D August 15, 2012 6:52 PM
Los Angeles CA

My husband is a physical therapist (PT) and its remarkable to me how much his organization supports him and how much clout they have. First they recruit the best and limit the number of PT schools and size of classes. That automatically makes it a competitive profession. They recruit the best and get paid the best.

A few years back they started advocating for a masters degree, now it's a doctorate degree for the profession. They put out studies showing that patients receive inferior care if there are not enough PTs in  a rehab department. They send out papers about supply and demand and  what the pay should be to attract good PTs. My husband's hospital has twice raised pay based on position statements by APTA.

There was one time when they wanted an occupational therapist to be crosstrained to do some PT instead oh hiring enough PTs and APTA got involved and the hospital backed off. It is also clear what their assistants like LPTAs can and cannot do. There is no blurring of lines.

His dues I think is money well spent. We get nothing close to that for membership dues.

Joan Carter August 6, 2012 12:09 PM
Atlanta GA

I only keep my membership in ASCP- for much the same reasons.  I've tried ASM, ASH, and AACC- got very little in return except for a yearly membership bill.  I thought I would at least be able to interact with other, more experienced techs, but no opportunities were there.  I actually read Advance for different perspectives and usually come away with a good idea.  Thanks!

Shirley Smith, Generalist - Medical Technologist, CS Med Center August 5, 2012 5:08 AM
College Station TX

I have to pay for my license to New York state then I have to pay ASCP to say I am a member of ASCP  although I get nothing in return. That''s not fair. Once you pass the boards why do you have to pay so you can use the title? Is like they rent it to you for 2 years then you have to pay to renew it. That is crazy. I get nothing for my dues. I guess I can see the liencce if it guarantees that unqualified people cant take my job but as for the membership fee. That is just crazy.

Barbara Thompson, MTll August 4, 2012 3:04 PM
Queens NY

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