Readers Respond

Sept. 1, 2011

A retiree's perspective

As I retire this month, I am going through my e-mail to save or delete files, I came across you and decided to thank you again for helping me nearly 18 months ago with the article on LAP, now published in MLO. That was quite an accomplishment for me. The “warm fuzzies” in lab work are so infrequent; except for Lab Week, we've had more slaps on the hands than pats on the back over the years. Our feelings of accomplishment in helping people must keep us persevering! It “ain't” the money honey!

I'll stay out of med-tech for a while, I did this in 1985 when I left the Indian Health Service as a hematology supervisor in Alaska and got a fine job at Cape Canaveral as a fuels chemist. Med-tech training is good for more than working in the lab; I've proved this! My best job ever because of my health-science background was at the Department of Environmental Regulation in Florida for 18 months — a low-paying job in air and solid-waste inspections! But I supported two strapping boys so back to med-tech I went, and have been in Tampa since.

I wish I could do more to get young people into med-tech. I tried to get a med-tech school started at my agency a few years ago without luck. Rumor now has it that with so many vacancies to fill in the next very few years, med-tech salaries will increase 30% or more just to get people into the profession. We need outreach to high schools as was done when I was in school to find med techs. I went to a pathology department as a high school senior with a few selected students who were “bright” in the sciences; our pictures were taken for the local paper and I saved them!   I went to Massachusetts Fitchburg State College (now a university), a good school at the time for med techs. Sadly, the major was dropped years ago. My internship was in Boston, another good area.

Med-tech has changed so incredibly over the years. Seasoned techs can see this more than younger ones. We started out with chemistry tests by hand (that took hours!!) using a spectrophotometer and model F Coulter Cell Counters to these push-button machines that need more troubleshooting and technical help than anything, so the theory we learned just isn't as important anymore (this,too, is sad). Med techs now in Flow do not have the theory to make the required subjective decisions.

I think the name for medical technologists will change over the years with the coming of technical data, the “techy” toys, and the need for an aptitude in electronics of some sort. We have adjusted to the changes over the years, learning how to troubleshoot instruments and, in some cases, like me, forming a relationship with an instrument. I have definitely done that in flow cytometry on three machines. When CANTO realizes I have left, she is going to get rebellious! (Yes, she is a SHE!) But I have piled up projects over the years and want to do them and spend more time with my folks who are in their mid-80s. I have been a CAP inspector a few times and enjoy that, so maybe I will dabble there.

Enough of my rambling, except it's fun to share with someone who understands. You put your ALL into MLO, and it is a fine journal…. I've been reading it for years and enjoy the articles so much. I wish you the best always, and stay young and healthy!

—Edna M. Hanson, MT(ASCP) FCM TS,
Newly Retired

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.