Something for Nothing

I’m probably going to be a little bit on a soap box with this post, but this is something that is bothering me. It’s about the society we live in and how it’s becoming more and more of a “something for nothing” society. We expect to get things without having to pay for them. In fact we’re so used to it that we even get angry when someone asks for payment. Let me give you some examples:

How many times have you gone to Wikipedia to look for an answer to a question? Or any other site on the Internet for that matter? And how many times have you donated any funds at all to the upkeep and maintenance of that site? Guess what. It costs money to maintain a website.

How many times have you downloaded a song off the Internet without paying for it in any way? People spend money to record songs and money to make movies. Where does the money come from to allow them to continue doing those things if nobody pays for the ones already made?

The reason this is bothering me is in relation to our professional associations. Even here, people want to receive benefits without paying for a membership – something for nothing. Our professional associations are worth supporting. They offer us educational opportunities, networking opportunities and a host of other benefits. All of these things cost our associations money to produce and provide. And even big associations cannot afford to continue eating the costs without eventually being financially unable to continue. You might be surprised to know how much of any given board meeting for your association is spent discussing staying financially viable.

Nobody, including your professional associations, can stay in business if they cannot make enough of a profit margin to survive, basically if they give away too much for free. I think it’s time for us to stop expecting everything to be handed to us without needing to give anything in return. So go for it. Donate to Wikipedia, buy your CDs, blue-rays and downloads, and join your professional societies. You will not regret it.


-Patti Jones PhD, DABCC, FACB, is the Clinical Director of the Chemistry and Metabolic Disease Laboratories at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, TX and a Professor of Pathology at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Professional Societies Abroad

In my last post I wrote about how Lab Week was being celebrated around the world. In that post I mentioned two medical laboratory associations that are up and coming in their respective countries and working hard to provide a voice for laboratory professionals. These organizations are the Association Ivoirienne de Biologie Technique (l’AIBT) in Cote d’Ivoire and the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association of Tanzania (MeLSAT). These two organizations are among a growing group in Africa recognizing the importance of professional associations to provide a voice, educational resources, and other tools for medical laboratory professionals.

Over the past few years the Centers for Disease Control has been a leader in helping facilitate the development of the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM). According to the ASLM website, the organization “is a pan-African professional body working to advocate for the critical role and needs of laboratory medicine and networks throughout Africa.” ASLM provides membership opportunities, continuing education, publishes a journal, and implements the WHO AFRO framework for improving medical laboratories in Africa called SLIPTA (Stepwise Laboratory Quality Improvement Process Towards Accreditation).

While ASLM focuses on providing services and member benefits across the African continent, L’AIBT and MeLSAT serve the local communities in their respective countries. You can find more information about l’AIBT on their facebook page, which features photos and posts on l’AIBT activities in Cote d’Ivoire and their website.  For more information on MeLSAT, you can visit their website, which also has a job postings page for lab professionals looking for opportunities in Tanzania. Both organizations have benefited from mentorship support from ASCP and have begun a dialogue with each other to exchange information and best practices. As they continue to develop and grow they will be important resources for local laboratory professionals and can provide an important network of professionals throughout the continent.



-Marie Levy spent over five years working at American Society for Clinical Pathology in the Global Outreach department.