The Early Years
The professional organization which was to become the Ohio Society for Clinical Laboratory Science was organized by Sister Mary Alma Julia Le Duc in 1934 (Another source lists the date as October 25, 1933) at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio. Sister Mary Alma Julia Le Duc was a graduate of the School of Pharmacy of Western Reserve University. During her summers, she lived at a residence on the campus of St. John’s Hospital in Cleveland where she was first introduced to clinical laboratory science. At the time of Sister’s introduction into the laboratory, training for laboratorians was almost entirely on-the-job training with students learning and working with experienced technologists or with a pathologist. In Sister’s case, according to her memoirs, the pathologist came in at intervals and taught her and her colleagues new tests as they were developed. Standards for laboratory workers and for training programs were relatively new and not universally accepted. In fact, it was not until 1933 that the first list of accredited programs was issued by ASCP’s Board of Registry. “A Model Curriculum for Training Students in Medical Technology” did not make its debut until 1937.
Sister Mary Alma Julia Le Duc, observing the professional organization of the nurses with whom she worked, suggested a similar association for laboratory science practitioners. She used the same numerical designations that the nurses used and began holding meetings for laboratory employees working in the hospitals within the nurses’ District #1, a five county area surrounding Akron. The organization became a “unit of the American Society of Clinical Laboratory Technicians.” It’s membership numbered 14 “technicians” all of whom attended the first meeting. Soon, laboratory employees from other districts followed Sister’s lead and a state organization was launched with Sister at the helm.
In November of 1934, Sister, with the help from a “technician from Parke-Davis,” published a journal that contained “papers read” at a scientific convention held earlier. The journal was called “American Society of Clinical Laboratory Technicians – Official Publication.” Among the articles comprising this first issue were, “Microscopic Slide Precipitation Tests for the Diagnosis and Exclusion of Syphillis”, by B.S. Kline of Mt. Sinai Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, and “The Value of the Schilling Hemogram in Clinical Hematology” by E. M. Schleicher, of Park Davis & Company, Detroit Michigan. There were reports and announcements from the various states and a printing of “The Laboratory Technicians’ Creed” as well as editorials. This fledgling journal was financed by the sale of advertising space. The printing was accomplished through the generous support of the Parke-Davis technician while Sister handled the mailing responsibilities. This journal may well be the first edition of what we now know as “Clinical Laboratory Science.”
We have no information about the organization between the years of 1938 and 1947. We do know that there was a reorganization of the Society in 1947 and that the Society was incorporated as the “Ohio Society of Medical Technologists” in the State of Ohio in 1948. Subsequent name changes were made in 1972 – “Ohio Society for Medical Technology” and, again, in 1994 – “Ohio Society for Clinical Laboratory Science.” In 2004, the name of the organization became ASCLS-Ohio, in order to further emphasize its affiliation with ASCLS.
From its beginnings, OSCLS has strongly supported continuing education for laboratory professionals. Its first state meeting was held at the Mayflower Hotel in Akron, Ohio on November 21, 1934. At an another early convention (1949) in Dayton, there were two scientific lectures. A typical one-day meeting today has anywhere from five to ten scientific sessions. In 1972, Jeanne Burson and the Ohio Council on Medical Technology began a program to record continuing education credits. The program was later merged into and continues as ASCLS’ P.A.C.E. program.
Many of OSCLS’s members have served the organization on the national level. Five of our members, Jeanne Sembower, Shirley Pohl, Jeanne Burson, Lucy Randles and Kathy Waller, have been ASCLS Presidents. Many others have served on national committees and boards and still others have been the recipients of national awards or recognitions.