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Susan Beck, PhD, MLS(ASCP)CM retired from her role as Professor and Director of the Division of Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) on June 30, 2023. Dr. Beck joined the CLS faculty in 1980 and became Division Director in 1993, where she served for 30 years until her retirement.

More than 40 Years of Service and Achievements in the Division of CLS

During her time as Division Director, Dr. Beck and her team have seen the division of Clinical Laboratory Science grow and evolve alongside the ever-changing profession. Notably during her time leading the division, Dr. Beck oversaw the establishment of the master’s degree program and achieved five successful accreditation reviews for the CLS program, resulting in the highest accreditation rating each cycle.

Additionally, Dr. Beck prides herself and her team on graduate success – graduates of the CLS program typically have a 100 percent pass rate on the national accreditation examination and are highly sought-after by employers. Faculty success has also been a priority for Dr. Beck and she has hired and mentored excellent faculty who have contributed greatly to the teaching, service and research mission of the division over the years.

“Any successes that I have had as a Division Director have been the result of a team effort,” said Dr. Beck. “I have been fortunate to work with incredibly talented and dedicated faculty and staff who were and are committed to the excellence of the program.”

Dr. Hooper, Associate Dean of Medicine and Chair of the Department of Health Sciences, shared that it was not uncommon for Dr. Beck to share the many accolades she received with her faculty. “Dr. Beck not only has been an innovative and gracious leader for her Division, but she has been a role model for leadership for the Department, and her presence certainly will be missed.”

Dr. Beck has received various awards and honors during her time within the Division of CLS, including the Department of Health Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award, Department of Health Sciences Leadership Award, North Carolina Society for Clinical Laboratory Science Member of the Year, North Carolina Society for Clinical Laboratory Science Professional Achievement Award in Education, North Carolina Association of Blood Bankers Petteway-Shepard Award, and the UNC Lifetime Mentor Award, which she received in 2023.

Student Success and Embracing Change

Dr. Beck notes that the highlight of her career has been the opportunity to work with more than 700 students throughout her time teaching and leading the division. “I enjoy watching students evolve from the first day of orientation when everything seems overwhelming to the day of graduation when they are confident in their knowledge and skills,” said Dr. Beck. “I also enjoy seeing all the wonderful things our graduates do with their degrees and I am proud of the ways they are contributing to health care. The success of our students and graduates is the most rewarding part of my career.”

During her more than 40 years with the division, Dr. Beck and her team have seen many milestones and changes in the classroom and lab settings. When she first began teaching, CLS was just learning about HIV and best practices for keeping students and laboratory practitioners safe. Fast forward to 2020, toward the end of Dr. Beck’s career – she and her team again responded to a new virus, SARS-CoV-2. “I was very proud of how the CLS students and faculty responded to that challenge,” said Dr. Beck. “We had to re-think everything we did in lectures, student laboratory courses and clinical rotations. Thanks to the dedication of the faculty and cooperation of the students we were able to provide students with everything they needed to enter the profession and succeed.”

Professional Focus on Certification of Clinical Laboratory Personnel

In the area of professional service, Dr. Beck is passionate about the certification of clinical laboratory personnel. She began her interest as an item writer for the Immunohematology section for the CLS and CLT exams offered by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Personnel (NCA). She was then asked to serve as the chair of the Immunohematology committee and chair of the Examination Council, where she worked with and was inspired by clinical laboratory content experts from all over the country. Following her term as chair, Dr. Beck served as a member of the Board of Directors and then as President of the NCA. When NCA merged with the American Society for Clinical Pathology Registry (ASCP-BOR), she served as a Board member of the newly formed ASCP-Board of Certification for nine years.

“We are now in a critical workforce shortage and many institutions are hiring non-certified individuals because they cannot find enough certified individuals,” said Dr. Beck. “It’s more important than ever to support clinical laboratory educational programs and students so employers can hire certified laboratory practitioners and maintain our professional standards.”

Publications and Collaboration

Dr. Beck has worked with colleagues in the Division of CLS and across the country on publications and presentations related to clinical laboratory education and the clinical laboratory workforce. A book, Clinical Laboratory Education, which she co-authored with Dr. Vicky LeGrys was first published in 1988. The book is used by education programs across the country to address this required area of MLS curriculum. Additionally, Dr. Beck’s article, An Algorithm for Curriculum Decisions in Medical Laboratory Science Education, published with Dr. Tara Moon, has been used by educational programs and the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science Entry Level Curriculum committee to guide decisions about what to include in the curriculum.

Service to the Department, School of Medicine and University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

In addition to her role as the Director of the Division of CLS, Dr. Beck served as the first Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee in the Department of Health Sciences. The committee developed a process for approving curriculum changes and a policy for handling student appeals. This position evolved into the Associate Chair for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Beck continued to work with the committee on department-wide academic policies and procedures for 10 years.

Dr. Beck served both the department and School of Medicine on committees related to Appointments, Promotion and Tenure. She also worked cross-campus within the Distance Education Program Directors’ Committee, as a General College Advisor, search committee member, and award selection committee member.

The Division of CLS Looks to the Future Under Dr. Tara Moon’s Leadership

Dr. Tara Moon stepped into the role of Director of the Division of Clinical Laboratory Science on July 1. “We are so fortunate to have Dr. Tara Moon assuming the role of division director,” said Dr. Beck. “She has a deep knowledge of and love for the program and it could not be in better hands. A great team of faculty and staff are in place to support her and will work together to maintain the excellence of the programs. I look forward to seeing the continued success of the CLS students and faculty.”