Celebrating 50 Years of NAACLS

(Last Updated On: February 1, 2023)

by Marisa K. James, MA MLS(ASCP)CM – NAACLS CEO

We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of NAACLS! In 1973, NAACLS was named the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Schools successor. The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (ASCLS, formerly ASMT) and ASCP sponsored the organization of NAACLS, resulting in a joint establishment of an autonomous and separately incorporated body to conduct accreditation for educational programs in the laboratory sciences. ASCLS and ASCP remain sponsors today, and NSH, AGT, and AAPA have joined as participating organizations. 

During the next 11 months, we will share noteworthy achievements in the illustrious history of NAACLS, including a look at the standards over fifty years, a retrospective on the development of Doctoral accreditation, and a look back at the 2004 Future’s Conference.

Several events will honor the golden anniversary of NAACLS. First, we will celebrate at the Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference on Thursday, March 2nd. NAACLS is sponsoring an evening reception for in-person attendees. We plan to have bubbles and dessert. A 50th anniversary reception will be held at the NAACLS Review Committees meeting in July, with all three Review Committees together for the first time. The NAACLS Board of Directors meeting will host a reception for current Board members and former Board Presidents.

As a member of the NAACLS community, you will have opportunities to celebrate. We will create a 50th-anniversary video to honor achieving this significant milestone. Please contact Mark Spence by February 21st if you wish to submit a video reliving a NAACLS memory.

NAACLS has made significant contributions to clinical laboratory science education and is viewed as a model agency by many in allied health accreditation. From its inception, NAACLS has been unique because the sponsoring organizations, ASCLS and ASCP, chose to delegate to NAACLS their respective powers to approve Essentials (now known as Standards). This power is unusual because it is a generally accepted principle of accreditation in the United States that the ability to establish and adopt educational standards resides within a given profession. This power is also granted to NAACLS by the American Association for Pathologists Assistants (AAPA), the National Society for Histotechnology (NSH), and the Association of Genetic Technologists (AGT), our participating organizations. NAACLS’s very existence highlights the extraordinary level of trust and support it enjoys from its sponsoring and participating organizations.

NAACLS is also unique with respect to many other allied health accrediting groups in that it conducts accreditation employing a “two-tiered” system. Although the NAACLS Board of Directors is responsible and accountable for all accreditation reviews and awards, the Board of Directors delegates responsibilities for detailed activities related to program review to a committee of laboratory professionals chosen by the board because of their expertise in areas that NAACLS accredits.

Approximately 600 programs in the clinical laboratory sciences nationwide and beyond look to NAACLS for leadership and guidance in accreditation matters. With advancements in distance learning education, the total number of accredited programs has steadily increased over the past twenty years. NAACLS continues to be a strong and viable accreditation agency that enjoys the confidence and support of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of professionals in the clinical laboratory sciences.

Celebrating a golden anniversary is a tremendous accomplishment. The success of NAACLS is only possible with the continued support from our NAACLS staff, volunteers, and community partners. Thank you for being a part of the NAACLS community.

We look forward to looking back at the past with you as we move together into the next 50 years.

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