Latest Edition

ASCLS-IL Insights
W i n t e r    E d i t i o n    2 0 2 4 


1|  President Letter 6-7|  Fall Meeting Recap
2|  Board of Directors & Save the Date 8|  MLT Program Graduates
3|  Nominations Information 9-10|  Scholarship Opportunities
4|  Networking Event 11|  Lab Christmas Tree
5|  Legislative Symposium


Networking Event

Illinois State Meeting Recap


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Happy New Year, ASCLS-IL members!

We trust you all enjoyed a restful and joyous holiday season. As we embark on a new year, we are thrilled to share a few brief updates and reflect on the wonderful year we just had.


Firstly, let’s take a moment to reflect on the strength of the past year. In October, we successfully hosted our first in-person state meeting since before the pandemic. The gathering proved to be a resounding success, and we extend our heartfelt gratitude to all our speakers and attendees for dedicating their time to this event.


October also held productive discussions with the offices of our Illinois senators and representatives as part of the 2023 Legislative Symposium. ASCLS-IL was joined by representatives from NAACLS and AMT to provide a comprehensive front on SALSA and the need for dedicated legislation and funds for laboratory workforce development. A warm welcome goes out to all our new members! We are delighted to have you join ASCLS-IL, and we look forward to engaging with you further in the coming months. Your presence enriches our community, and we can’t wait to connect with you on various Initiatives.


Lastly, exciting developments are on the horizon, and we are eager to bring the community together once again. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements and visit our new website, to keep up with the latest news! Here’s to a fantastic year ahead filled with collaboration, growth and shared success! Wishing you all a wonderful 2024.


Alysia Gazder & Kristen Pesavento

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Co-Presidents: Kristen Pesavento and Alysia Gazder

Recording Secretary: Celia Figueroa

President-Elect: Diana DeAvila

Board Members-At-Large: Michelle R. Campbell and Kate Bernhardt

Membership: Alysia Gazder and Izabel Zwolen

Communications Chair: Darby Naheedy

Website Administrator: Nicholas Steder and Darby Naheedy

Awards Chair: Diana DeAvila


Demetra “Toula” Castillo

Kristen Pesavento


Developing Professional Chair: Elizabeth Serrano

Developing Professional Vice Chair: Sydney Redlin

Ascending Professional Chair: Dioco Reyes

Ascending Professional Vice Chair: Sydney Redlin

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Interested in becoming more involved with ASCLS Illinois?

We are accepting nominations for 2024 - 2025 meeting chair and other committee roles! Email nominations to

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By Elizabeth Serrano, Student at Loyola University Chicago, MS in Medical Laboratory Science

What an experience. My first day arriving at the conference I was super nervous. As a student, intimidated is an understatement of how I felt being surrounded by so many intelligent and knowledgeable laboratorians, all highly successful in their own way. I went in with an open mind, and little to no knowledge on the legal aspects of advocacy. I did some reading, but it was so confusing I often found myself taking extra-long breaks in between articles. I never thought advocacy was something I was interested in until I became a phlebotomist and learned how essential the lab truly is. I felt I had a million questions. Not knowing what to ask first, or what not to ask. But after hearing others’ questions and concerns, my nerves calmed down. I was relieved I wasn’t alone. The presenters did great at explaining and breaking down big concepts into smaller parts for an easier understanding of a certain concept. Despite all the prepping, I was still anxious. Needless to say, I had a sleepless night. 

At last, Leg Day. The day I’ve been anticipating for months has finally arrived. All of our three meetings were completed as a group, the constituents from Illinois. After the first meeting, my nerves calmed down a bit. As one of my professor’s always says, “don’t panic, take a breath,” and so I did. Every meeting after the first became easier. By the third and final meeting, my hunger started to kick back in, so I knew I had survived Leg Day. The hardest part of this whole experience was finding my way around the first day, when everything is new and intimidating. Once I learned that the transit system in DC is very straightforward and resembles the CTA a great deal, finding my way around became much easier. I would not hesitate to recommend any laboratorian to attend a legislative symposium at least once in their careers, if the opportunity presents itself. It was a very unique experience. It showcased a different perspective of the lab world, one that desperately needs help. It was quite an experience like no other and I am grateful I was presented with the opportunity to attend. Sky’s the limit. I’m excited to see where my career in advocacy will take me.

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By Peter Davis, MLS(ASCP)CM

The ASCLS Illinois conference I recently attended was an inspiring and informative event, offering valuable insights into the ever-evolving landscape of laboratory sciences.

Here is a quick summary for each session:

Evolution of Purpose and Culture Leadership and Strategic Design

During the session, the importance of effective leadership was emphasized. The speaker emphasized that leadership is not just a title but a set of behaviors. It was noted that good leaders are motivated by a desire to help others. We also discussed the relationship between individuals and organizational culture and how strategic leadership can improve the present and create a better future. The speaker also discussed improving processes, including making huddles more interactive and reducing reliance on emails. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are essential for measuring progress towards goals like employee engagement and collaboration. Transparency and knowledge were identified as crucial components of sound decision making systems.

Don't Fear the Peripheral Smear: An Intro to Special Populations with Challenging Findings

This session highlighted the importance of interpreting peripheral smears, especially in special populations with challenging findings. The narrative focused on understanding the story each slide tells, particularly in the context of pediatric cell populations and the impact of chemotherapy on peripheral presentations.

Couldn't make the meeting? Access to Dr. Kanakis' presentation can be found on his website!

Urine Culture Utilization During Pregnancy

This session discussed the challenges associated with the utilization of urine culture tests during pregnancy. It sheds light on the risks of prescribing antibiotics based solely on urinalysis results. The discussion covered the reflex criteria, treatment of asymptomatic bacteriuria, and the need to reevaluate the literature guiding these practices. The session also highlighted the prevalence of preanalytical errors, leaving us to ponder the balance between risk and benefit.

A Breakdown of Breakdowns: What's Tearing the Laboratory Sciences Apart and How to Put It Back Together Again

During the session, the critical shortage of jobs in the laboratory sciences was discussed, and strategies were proposed to address this issue. The discussion focused on improving clinical capacity, fostering collaborative energy, and addressing burnout, ineffective leadership, and work-life balance. Eliminating toxic behaviors, promoting empathy, and involving professionals in decision-making processes were emphasized. Overall, the session aimed to find practical solutions to the laboratory sciences industry's challenges.

The Intersection of Ethics and Laboratory Medicine

The final session prompted introspection on the ethical considerations within laboratory medicine. Participants were challenged to "see the dragon they are slaying," emphasizing the importance of ethics beyond mere adherence to laws. Concepts like principlism, casuistry, and virtue ethics were explored, sparking discussions on the ethical dimensions of laboratory practices.

The conference turned out to be a great blend of varied perspectives and fresh concepts, and it honored the unyielding determination of lab professionals. As we continue to navigate the constantly changing field of laboratory sciences, these sessions will help us progress toward a future of excellence and ethical practices.

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Frontier Community College MLT Program

Names (Left to Right): Abigail Whiting, Jessica Dooley, Kristen Cheadle, Madison McDaniel, Ashley Wyatt, and Felicia Winter Wissel

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ASCLS-IL offers two scholarships at the state level, the Ellen McGill Memorial Scholarship and the ASCLS-IL Future Leaders Scholarship. You can read more about these and other opportunities on our dedicated scholarship page!

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Lab Themed Christmas Tree Wishes All Seasons Greetings!

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ASCLS-IL is an affiliate society of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) and one of five states in ASCLS Region VI, which also includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. ASCLS serves as the voice of all clinical laboratory professionals, creating a vision for the advancement of the clinical laboratory practice field, and advocating the value and the role of the profession ensuring safe, effective, efficient, equitable, and patient centered health care. 

  • Promoting the value of the profession to healthcare and the public 
  • Uniting the profession to speak with one voice
  • Advocating on behalf of the profession 
  • Promoting professional independence 
  • Enhancing quality standards and patient safety 
  • Ensuring workplace safety 
  • Providing professional development opportunities 
  • Promoting expanded roles and contributions of clinical laboratory professionals to the healthcare team 
  • Increasing the diversity in the profession and expanding the voice and role of under-represented individuals and groups



Kim Alexis D. Espejo, MLS(ASCP)CM

Copy Editor:

Michelle R. Campbell, M.S., MLS(ASCP)CMMBCMSCCM