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September 2006

bullet Pay for lab professionals

I feel compelled to respond to Don Patton’s letter, "Putting Lab Professionals in the Spotlight" (August 2006). I applaud the efforts to showcase to the public our important contributions to health care, but there is another, simpler solution: Pay us a better wage. I am a single parent who has worked in this field for 23 years. I must work two jobs to make ends meet, and every parent I know in the lab has to do the same. I have a master’s degree and yet I am not compensated for it, monetarily or in terms of advancement. Moreover, despite my advanced degree (master’s in health services management) and 23 years of experience, I do not qualify for most hospital administrative positions simply because I am not a nurse.

I used to be the program director of a community college MLT program until it closed because of low enrollment. That was four years ago, and I still do not make what I made at the college when I left. For today’s teens and young adults, it’s all about the money. If they could earn $100 per hour shoveling dirt, there would be a miles-long line of applicants. They don’t care what they do as long as it pays well. When I recruited during my last year at the college, the first question I was asked was "What is the salary?" I couldn’t compete with our radiology tech, LPN, or dental assistant programs.

So though I am grateful that steps are being taken to call attention to the profession and to our job shortages, I would be even more grateful to see my paycheck made comparable to that of a nurse with my same level of education and years of experience. I would be grateful if my application were not discarded for an administrative position because I’m not a nurse. I guarantee: If you raise the salary, they will come.

Trudy R. Darden MA, MT(ASCP)
Hematology and POCT Supervisor
Naval Health Clinic Great Lakes
Great Lakes, Ill.

bullet Specimen collection

After much time and a lot of arm-twisting, we have finally managed to convince our operating room personnel to allow us to post Dr. Nancy Cornish’s swab versus biopsy and tissue posters (with minor modifications, of course) in the OR suites. Since posting, we have seen a remarkable decrease in the number of swabs submitted for culture. Thank you for your wonderful article ("Swapping swabs for syringes and scalpels", August 2004), and thank you to Dr. Cornish for making her posters available to the rest of us.

Stuart Schneider
Supervisor, Microbiology
VA Loma Linda (Calif.)
Healthcare System