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Outside the Lab Profession

The First 100 Informs the Next

Throughout this year, we’ve been celebrating the 100th anniversary of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). Now that we are just over halfway through 2022, it’s hard not to stop and reflect on the accomplishments pathologists and laboratory medicine professionals have made in the past century. To say that we have changed the face of medicine would be an understatement. The advances the laboratory has made in research and patient care have indelibly altered the way medicine is practised.

As part of our celebration, editorial board members of AJCP and Laboratory Medicine have written essays looking at how far we’ve come in pathology and laboratory medicine, covering topics such as vaccination resistance, how the clinical microbiology laboratory has evolved, the importance of hospital laboratory stewardship, how the evolution of cytopathology has influenced the diagnosis of cervical cancer, and more. It is astounding to see how much has changed over the last 100 years – and how much has stayed the same. The things that haven’t changed have proven to be foundational for our field and, without them, we would not have been able to solidify our critical role in patient care.

Since its inception, ASCP has also been a fierce advocate for the laboratory on both the national and global stage. Medicine has changed drastically since 1922 and, over the 100 years since, the laboratory has faced its share of challenges. In the early years of ASCP, the Society saw the need for mandatory standards for laboratory professionals to ensure quality training and we have not lapsed on that commitment.

As laboratories have evolved over the years, so too has licensure, and ASCP has played a critical role in licensing laboratory professionals and ensuring that other professions do not encroach on the laboratory. In 2016, when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) sent a memo to CLIA inspectors stating that a bachelor’s degree in nursing was equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and therefore nurses would be allowed to perform high-complexity testing, ASCP pushed back. The Society argued that the two degrees were not equivalent and that nurses did not have the proper training to perform high-complexity laboratory testing. CMS received more than 10,000 comments on this issue, only a handful of which supported their position; consequently, there has never been a rule.

These are just two of the many issues ASCP has tackled in its history and, without a doubt, there will be many more in years to come. At the core of our society, we hold close that, without the laboratory – and the diagnostics, research, and everything else we provide – healthcare would be little more than a guessing game for patients and physicians. It is our calling and our duty to advance research, to educate ourselves and the public, to challenge injustices, and to advocate for the laboratory to ensure that we solidify our place at the center of healthcare – now and for the next 100 years.

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About the Author
E. Blair Holladay

CEO of the American Society for Clinical Pathology

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