Letters to the Editor

June 18, 2015

Remembering Rosalind Franklin

Thank you for reminding the world of Rosalind Franklin's contributions to the discovery of the double helix of DNA (“Credit where it's due: Remembering Rosalind Franklin,” March 2015, p.4). She was badly abused academically because she was a woman. Wilkins would not have even considered showing a fellow male researcher's data to competitors as he did with Dr. Franklin's. It may have been his way to further abuse/bully her. Hers will remain one of the tragedies of science and an example of gender inequality.

–Paul A. Elgert, CT(ASCP)IAC, Cytopathology Supervisor, NYU School of Medicine at Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, NY

I read with great interest the editorial in the March 2015 issue [p.4] describing the contribution made by Rosalind Franklin. As a result of this piece, whenever I refer to Watson & Crick, I will always include Dr. Franklin. May her memory last as long as DNA.

I would also like to recognize another woman who contributed much to the field of laboratory medicine: Rosalyn Yalow (1921-2011,) along with Dr. Solomon Berson, allowed us measure so many analytes so minutely concentrated that prior to RIA a nanogram or picogram was only a concept.

These tidbits of information really make the field of laboratory medicine come alive. We “old-timers” who remember lab analysis in the era prior to auto analyzers can appreciate the growth of technology.

–Saul Z. Wasserman, VP Laboratory Consultation Services, Inc. Brooklyn, NY.

Annual salary survey

I read your March 2015 issue with great interest, including the annual salary survey report [pp.24-27]. You asked to hear from readers who may have an explanation on the unexpected results of salary vs. education data.

Not to detract from the hard work and possible career promotions of associate's degree holders, but I believe it is unrealistic that this education group could average $92,829 (more than any other group). During my prior employment as a manager in a Northeast clinical laboratory making hiring decisions, I can state that these reported salary numbers would be nearly impossible to be achieved by someone holding only an associate's degree.

As a current professor teaching a statistics course in an MT program, I thought I would offer some possible explanations for this counter-intuitive result.

1. The number of respondents from the associate's degree group is very low. Reporting the total number (N) of each group would be useful to readers.

2. Average vs. median salary. Median result will be more meaningful unless the data truly follow a normal distribution across all groups.

3. Do you remove outliers from your data set prior to final analysis?

4. False reporting (outliers, again): a) Some respondents may have made a typo when filling out this part of the survey. b) Did some respondents who hold higher degrees but also earned a prior associate's degree report both degrees?

Another interesting finding is if we compare salary vs. type of facility data. If associate's degree holders average $92,829, are most of them working in blood bank ($103,375) or teaching programs ($93,333)? Or, are nearly all employed in the Pacific region of the U.S., which averages $103,192? I find both of these scenarios to be unlikely.

I look forward to hearing more about this report, as this information is certainly a helpful contribution to the field.

–Paul Johnson, PhD, MT(ASCP) Upstate Medical University, Syracuse NY

MLO thanks Dr. Johnson for his cogent critique. We try to refine the processes involved in the Salary Survey from year to year in order to present the most accurate and useful annual snapshot. Redoubled efforts to remove outliers would seem to be called for, and providing the raw number will help as well. (The number of associate's degree holders was in fact low.) The point you raise in 4b above is a very good one, and we will consider whether the relevant question can be reworded to address that concern. –Editor

I have worked several years in various hospital laboratories and currently for a privately owned laboratory. I am a medical assistant and phlebotomy Tech. We are part of the operation of the laboratory, collecting specimens and various other duties, such as setting up specimens for microbiology, urine slides, etc.

I see no mention of a salary survey for the phlebotomy department of the laboratory in your March 2015 issue. Why is it always the department that is overlooked? And, always underpaid!

–Elaine Villalpando, Rochester Hills, MI

Thank you for pointing out the oversight, Ms. Villalpando. We will use the time between now and then to consider the best way to represent phlebotomy on next year's survey. –Editor