Laboratorians under age 40 and trainees in search of career building and camaraderie have a prime resource in AACC’s Society for Young Clinical Laboratorians (SYCL), which presents a range of networking, mentorship, programming, and recognition opportunities.

Networking, a key aspect of SYCL, occurs at three levels: among peers, with mentors, and through resources, Sarah A. Hackenmueller, PhD, DABCC, FAACC, a SYCL Core Committee member, told CLN Stat. Connections with peers take place around the clock via the SYCL forum on AACC Artery. In-person collaborations take place at SYCL’s annual workshop and mixer—two of the most anticipated events at AACC’s Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo.

Hackenmueller, who joined AACC in 2012 and now serves as director of clinical chemistry and toxicology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, is an ardent proponent of SYCL’s networking power. Connections through the group have led her to collaborations and a clutch of colleagues ready, willing, and able to answer her questions or offer guidance on particular issues. The SYCL workshop and mixer “represent great opportunities to meet new people and make additional connections,” she stressed.

Like Hackenmueller, Yachana Kataria, PhD, found the SYCL workshop and mixer very welcoming and anchoring as a first-time attendee in 2015. “It was a pleasant surprise,” she told CLN Stat. The size and scale of the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo can be very overwhelming to new attendees, and SCYL provides an anchor for meeting like-minded individuals and exchanging academic and nonacademic experiences, said Kataria, an assistant professor of pathology and lab medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and a member of the SYCL Core Committee. Though she’s based in New England, Kataria has made connections across the country through SYCL. “I’ve studied for my boards with some, collaborated on ideas with others, and made friends along the way.”

Not content to rest on its laurels, SYCL in January added a new benefit: a wellness initiative to strengthen career strategies. Through this program, members can seek out peer-based support and tips to tackle common issues encountered by many SYCL members. This includes topics like making the most of meetings and managing your inbox, said Hackenmueller, who also chairs SYCL’s wellness subcommittee.

“Gaining strategies now to increase resilience will have lasting impacts on overall wellness and engagement as SYCL members continue with their professional growth,” she said. The SCYL forum on the Artery page will feature monthly wellness tips.

The group is very excited about the wellness program, SYCL Chair Laura Parnas, PhD, DABCC, told CLN Stat. In other initiatives, the mentoring connections program remains a popular avenue for professional support. In addition, SYCL 360 videos feature short interviews of SYCL and AACC leaders discussing their own career experiences and thoughts about professional development, said Parnas. SYCL has also shared the results of its 2018 Salary Survey, a comprehensive survey that provides a wealth of data to help in salary negotiations during job searches.

Additionally, the SYCL liaisons to AACC publications “continue to provide opportunities for SYCL members to publish and bring fresh new ideas to these groups, making sure the content and format continues to be relevant for new generations of laboratorians,” said Parnas, who works at Roche Diagnostics as its noncardiac scientific affairs manager, in Indianapolis.

Hackenmueller encourages young laboratorians to “jump in and get involved” in SYCL’s many initiatives. Reid Rosehill, MS, MLS (ASCP)CM, clinical lab manager at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, who joined AACC in 2018, recently became a member of the SYCL Core Committee. “Although I’m just starting to get my feet wet, I can see how this is going to be a great opportunity for me to grow professionally,” Rosehill said. A number of SYCL subcommittees offer members the opportunity to get involved and support ongoing initiatives, he added.

Volunteer by checking SYCL’s web page or Artery forum for activities. Ask a question on the Artery or contribute to one of the ongoing discussions on the SYCL page. “Let us know about your interest through the ‘Get Involved With SYCL’ link on the SYCL web page,” Parnas advised. The group wants to know how SYCL is serving members and welcomes feedback on areas of improvement or ideas for new initiatives.

All AACC members younger than age 40, as well as Trainee members, automatically are enrolled in this dynamic community. Join now to take advantage of the full menu of SYCL activities.