ASCP Hops Aboard the STEM Bandwagon to Promote Lab Careers
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
In a small step for what could become a national partnership, in Iowa ASCP ventured into the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) territory. Careers for medical laboratory professionals dovetail with STEM’s educational mission to promote good jobs in science to U.S. students in their efforts to improve U.S. competitiveness.
ASCP, the Pathology Department at the University of Iowa, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center Iowa City, and the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science in Iowa sponsored an exhibit booth “Diagnostic Detectives” at a recent iSTEM Festival (i is for Iowa) for grade and middle school students held in Coralville, Iowa.
“It was an amazing day in which 800 families showed up at the STEM Festival, and their energy was palpable,” said M. Sue Zaleski, MA, SCT(ASCP)HT, ASCP Chair of the Council of Laboratory Professionals. “Generally, people don’t know about medical laboratory professions. Here we had a great opportunity to educate younger children and their parents.”
The disposable lab coats and hands-on activities of hand washing and squirting chocolate syrup over jello to simulate E. coli food poisoning were big hits with the kids. Adults snapped up ASCP career materials on the wage and vacancy surveys and comic books.
The iSTEM Festival was a first for Iowa and ASCP. Now ASCP is being considered for other STEM events, according to Ms. Zaleski.
“We need to become connected to STEM in all the states and nationwide,” she said. “This event was a catalyst for ASCP laboratory professionals. We became very visible; that’s not our typical role. And we enjoyed every moment.”
The STEM Education Coalition advocates for policies to improve STEM education at all levels through an alliance of more than 500 business, professional, and educational organizations. The Coalition raises awareness in Congress, the Administration, and other organizations about the critical role that STEM education plays in enabling the United States to maintain its economic and technological leadership worldwide.