By - December 14, 2022
For the Critical Values series, “3 Questions With,” Kathryn Golab, MLS(ASCP)CM, Chair of the ASCP Social Media Committee, shares her thoughts on the importance of social media in pathology and laboratory medicine, how and why she got started in high school outreach, and more.
The social media committee is one of the newest committees under the Membership committee umbrella in the ASCP Governance Structure. Initially, the Social Media Volunteer team was created into an informal committee in 2020 under the leadership of Dr. Kamran Mirza. At that time, he asked me to join him as a co-chair of our informal committee. Both of us knew though, that social media usage was on the rise and could play a hugely important role in how ASCP interacted with its membership. Dr. Mirza then asked ASCP if we could take our informal committee and make it into a structured committee, with terms of service, and our charter was officially signed off by ASCP Past President Kim Stafford in 2021.
Dr. Mirza has been instrumental in developing the committee and its outreach to other commissions and councils within ASCP, including helping one of our inaugural members Tiffany Gill (aka Medical Lab Lady Gill) launch the ASCP and Medical Lab Lady Gill Super Cell Bowl in 2021. The committee also brought together a group of eight professionals in social media this year as faculty at the ASCP Annual Meeting in Chicago to educate attendees on social media, how to get started, and how to leverage it for professional growth.
Our committee has a mix of members from all professional groups, and I think this diversity on our committee brings so much to what the group can bring. We have podcasters, twitter specialists, those who are super proficient on LinkedIn Publishing, and this variety in talents allows us to be able to produce messaging across multiple platforms, reaching a large group of end users in comparison to if we were limited to experts in one area of social media.
I’ve said this before, but I find it really important to keep repeating: It’s one thing to have social media, it’s an entirely different thing to have “Social Media with a Purpose.” Anyone can go to any social media platform and have an account; it’s how you use the account that makes all the difference. It is a great tool for learning as well, there are a number of different members of the pathology and laboratory medicine community who leverage social media really well for educating other pathologists and laboratory professionals about difficult clinical case experiences as well as clinical pathology work ups.
One that I want to shout out here is my friend and social media committee member Aaron Odegard. Aaron discovered that Weight Watchers (yes, that WW!) has a social media platform, and enrolled on it to help promote laboratory medicine and educate WW members about laboratory screening testing, such as cholesterol testing, Hemoglobin A1C, and others. This completely embodies the mentality of “Social Media with a Purpose.” Aaron saw a gap, and knew that he had the knowledge (laboratory medicine) and skill set (social media) to provide education and close the gap when it came to routine laboratory health screen testing.
I started doing high school outreach work because I think back to high school-aged Kathryn. She knew she wanted to go into the health professions, really enjoyed science, but didn’t want to be a nurse or doctor. As I describe it to others, I didn’t have that “capital S-Something” to be a nurse, and at the time I didn’t want to spend four years in college, then four years in medical school, then an additional four to five years in postgraduate training before getting to practice independently. It also wasn’t exactly financially feasible for me to achieve either. So, I went back to my high school alma mater and reached out to the principle and asked, “Can I come in and talk to students about medical laboratory science?” I was lucky enough that he said yes. There have been plenty of non-responses to emails sent out over the years, but I have been able to make connections at a number of high schools in the area that have a focus on career preparation within their curriculum.
I am also an active volunteer with Junior Achievement Wisconsin, which is a volunteer organization that coordinates career day presentations around the state for elementary through high school age students. I also got involved on the Board of Directors with the Menomonee Falls High School Healthcare Career academy, which is for students who are interested in health-related professions and works to expose them to different fields in healthcare. The third year after I got involved with their program, so the students who were sophomores in their first year of the program were now seniors and graduating, was the first year that they had Medical Laboratory Science-intended majors graduating. This honestly is one of my most proud accomplishments in high school outreach because it shows that with an hour of my time twice a year, I was able to expose students to a career they wouldn’t have originally thought of and hopefully inspire someone to join the career that I have fallen in love with.
My advice for anyone who would want to start out is to just start asking. I send out emails to different schools all the time that I don’t have a connection with, and eventually you get lucky and speak to the right person to be able to coordinate a presentation.