Building Connections to Advance Your Career

Apr 8, 2024, 09:49 AM by Susan Montgomery

ASCP has played a pivotal role in the career development of Michelle Campbell, MS, MLS(ASCP)CMMBCMSCCM, in laboratory medicine and in her pursuit of advanced education. She joined the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) more than a decade ago as a medical laboratory science (MLS) student, motivated by the need to prepare for her MLS exam through the ASCP Board of Certification.

Since then, Ms. Campbell has actively participated in many opportunities the Society offers, from serving as a Career Ambassador and gaining recognition as an ASCP 40 Under Forty Top Five honoree, to serving as a member and chair of the Council of Laboratory Professionals, and as a member of the Workforce Steering Committee.

“As I have traversed through my career and pursued advanced education, ASCP has been a constant, weaving seamlessly into the fabric of my professional life,” she says. “My journey really took off, however, after being recognized as an ASCP 40 Under Forty Top Five honoree— an accolade that not only recognized my accomplishments as a young professional, but also opened doors to a multitude of opportunities.”

Developing connections within the field of pathology and laboratory medicine is crucial for laboratory professionals and pathologists. This can be achieved through various means, including education, volunteer opportunities that nurture leadership skills, networking for career advancement, engaging in mentoring relationships, and cultivating a sense of belonging within the community. ASCP members can build those connections in person by attending live events and serving on councils or committees, or virtually through outlets like ASCP’s online communities, roundtable discussions, webinars, and more.

“ASCP has been my professional home through my career journey,” says ASCP Past President Kim Sanford, MD, MASCP, MT(ASCP).

Dr. Sanford was 18 when she took the certification exam to become a phlebotomist, and it paved the way for her to understand how important certification is. She furthered her career by training to become a medical technologist and, years later, went back to school to pursue a medical degree. She ended up pursuing a pathology residency. Today, she is the director of Transfusion Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as the medical director of the laboratory at VCU’s Stony Point and Ambulatory Outpatient Pavilion Laboratories, and the director of Undergraduate Education for the Department of Pathology.

“Throughout this career journey, I’ve had numerous different roles in the pathology laboratory, and every one of those roles is represented by ASCP,” she says, referring to the Society’s membership which includes both laboratory professionals and pathologists.

As a pathology resident, she started writing interesting patient case scenarios as ASCP CheckSamples with her pathologist mentor. “Writing CheckSamples was a way that pathology residents could complete a publication, which was required during residency,” she says. After starting her career as an academic pathologist, the same mentor recommended her to serve on ASCP’s CheckPath Committee, a virtual-slide/image-based assessment program for pathologists. Dr. Sanford says serving on the committee was the first time she volunteered in the Society.


Left: Michelle Campbell was recognized as a 40 Under Forty Top Five Honoree, and has been active with ASCP, which has helped her further her career. Right: Aaron Odegard and Kimberly Sanford agree that getting involved and volunteering can help you grow in your career.

This committee appointment allowed her to network, which led to additional committee appointments. “Networking has been one of the most important things in my career. It helped me develop mentors as well as sponsors that helped open doors for me to serve on various committees and councils, which in turn helped develop and strengthen my leadership skills,” Dr. Sanford says. “Ultimately, this is what helped me to become and serve as ASCP’s president.”

Many ways to forge new connections

There are so many ways that ASCP members can make these important connections. One is by attending live events, such as the ASCP Annual Meeting, KnowledgeLab, or Path Updates. For those who prefer the convenience of online education, offerings such as LabQ, Case Reports, the Resident Question Bank, and a patient safety course, are also available.

Forging connections through ASCP is also facilitated by the new online communities where participants can broach a question on a specific topic and solicit feedback, as well as Online Roundtables.

“I have met so many amazing people through ASCP,” says Aaron Odegard, MS, MLS(ASCP)CMSMCM, a Past Chair of the Council of Laboratory Professionals. “My ASCP colleagues are like family. I have formed relationships that transcend the laboratory and have shaped my life.”

Both Mr. Odegard and Ms. Campbell say that becoming actively involved in the Society’s volunteer opportunities is an important way to further professional growth. Before joining the Workforce Steering Committee, Ms. Campbell served on the Commission for Science, Technology, and Public Policy where she became more involved in ASCP’s advocacy efforts, which support laboratory quality and patient safety as well as advocate for the needs of the medical laboratory community.

“My ASCP experience has been marked by engagement with the Regional Engagement Workgroup and the Podcast Committee, allowing me to contribute meaningfully to the profession of laboratory medicine,” says Ms. Campbell, adding that ASCP has helped her to connect with her peers through the ASCP online communities and Roundtable sessions.

Ms. Campbell, Mr. Odegard, and Dr. Sanford are among the many laboratory professionals and pathologists who have made ASCP their medical home—a place where they can develop connections with colleagues in their profession, take part in education, both in person and virtual, and gain new skills to advance their careers.