Readers respond

Oct. 1, 2008

Letters to the editor

Readers respond


Repetitive training is key

I thoroughly enjoyed the article by Don Keller on
the importance of training employees [MLO, June 2008 “Tune-up for
trainers: Help employees stay on top of their game,” p. 40]. As someone
who trains sales people for a living, I frequently hear, “We have no
budget for training” or “My people are experienced; they don't need
training.” Mr. Keller's article outlines the necessity of training and
asks the fundamental questions: “Has the employee had any training?” and
“How adequate was that training?” Another related question can be, “If
they have had training, how often?” The real value (especially for
sales) is the repetitive aspect. People will forget most of what they
learn in a classroom setting unless there is constant coaching,
feedback, and redundant reviewing of the material. It is analogous to
sport teams who continuously practice the same drills. I hope your
readers embrace Mr. Keller's advice, as it can only help the
organization, its employees, and their customers.

—Peter Francis
Clinical Laboratory Sales Training LLC

Don Keller's response: I
appreciate Mr. Francis' comments and agree with his observation that the
repetitive aspect of training is key. At SCC Soft Computer, we have
continually reassessed our training delivery over the years to meet the
challenges faced by a fast-growing company in a competitive industry. We
are constantly looking for ways to improve the effectiveness of the
training we provide to our employees. Our blended-learning approach
includes instructor-led training, computer-based and Web-based self-led
training, Webinars, software simulations, and ad hoc training. We
have empowered employees to take ownership of their learning plans with
a “personal learning passport” that they can use to track their progress
towards reaching competency levels for their positions. Managers work
closely with their teams to ensure that team members are on track and to
reassess their learning needs to keep pace with industry and regulatory
changes. Having SCC staff take an active role in their own professional
development has resulted in better buy-in from employees at all levels.

A new option

Concerning the “Letter to the Editor” from Pam Elsins
[MLO, July 2008, “Lab pro's new perspective,” p. 8]. Do you have any
more information as to “how” Pam crossed over into industry. I have worked
in the field for 30 years and thought there were no other options. This
option sounds exciting! Thank you.

—Patti Richardson
Philadelphia, PA

Editor's note: For Patti and
others interested in making the transition to industry, we will assemble a
list of contacts for your use and post it at
within the month of October. If you are a reader who
has already made the switch, please send information directly to the editor:
[email protected].

Rooster guarding hen house?

Dennis Ernst asked the question of whether licensing
phlebotomists will improve the quality of specimens and decrease medical
errors, in the article [MLO, July 2008, “States fail to follow
California's lead in certifying phlebotomists,” p. 40]. I believe the answer
to this question can be found in the latest Clinical Laboratory Technology
Advisory Committee meeting minutes. The California Laboratory Field Service
(LFS) is concerned about compliance in various areas including forged
certificates, false proof of experience, false phlebotomy applications, and
problems with training schools. The phlebotomy certification for California
had been in place for five years now, and yet the renewal rate is only at
40%. That is a very low rate, even if you take into consideration that
phlebotomy is a steppingstone career.

As a clinical lab supervisor and phlebotomy
instructor, I can personally attest that some of those problems are real, as
I had first-hand experience. The two most common issues I see are
phlebotomists not having experience performing skin puncture either on adult
or pediatric/neonatal patients, and phlebotomists who do not speak enough
English to even answer the basic phlebotomy questions (infection control and
order of draw). Does that not make you wonder how those people got their
licenses? A low renewal rate likely indicates that there are quite a few
licensed phlebotomists who cheated their way through the system and are
unable to find jobs as phlebotomists and, therefore, decided not to renew.

Among all state-approved exams; phlebotomy is the
only area where there is an agency that allows the instructor from the
phlebotomy program to proctor the exam. For those private post-secondary
institutions, that likely means someone who has direct financial interest is
proctoring the exam. If we are not going to allow CLS programs to give the
state CLS exam, why would we allow phlebotomy program to proctor the state
phlebotomy exam?

—Helen Kwan
Los Angeles, CA

Healthcare workers brave storms

I would just like to comment on a tragedy that
happened in June due to flooding and tornadoes. I thought it was amazing to
see the tremendous outpour[ing] of help the people offer each other when
things go wrong. I work in the laboratory; and when the tornado put lives in
harm's way, the healthcare workers reacted quickly and very calmly to get
the job done and help others.

—Bobby Hassman, MLT(ASCP)
City, IA


As a medical doctor, I noticed the accidental
misspelling of Hippocrates, regarded by some as the “Father of Modern
Medicine.” He is linked to the Hippocratic Oath that is taken by many
medical students; however, it is not clear if he wrote it.
This physician's name is misspelled as “Hypocrites” on page 25, fourth
line from the bottom of Kevin Maher, PhD's, informative article on
celiac disease [MLO August 2008, “Against the grain: a celiac
disease review,” page 22].

—Ivan Seligman
Naples, FL

Editor's note: I wish I
could say that you win the prize for finding the biggest MLO
blooper, but we have no reward for that! Thank you for finding what
several different readers missed altogether (including me). Your letter
might soothe the reading masses who have not yet written to scold us. We
also apologize to Dr. Maher for this error. And to Hippocrates. And to
Hypocrites, whoever he might be.

MLO welcomes letters to the editor. We ask that you include a phone number for verification. While we prefer to publish the writer's name, we will publish a letter with “name withheld by request,” but our editorial staff must have the writer's name confirmed for our files. MLO reserves the right to edit any letter for style and length.
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