CPA category #3: Response to media stories about other health professionals that have not included the laboratory profession.
Letter to local television station:
Last week your 10 p.m. newscast featured a story about the shortage of nurses in the U.S. One of the things that was not mentioned is that other health care professionals are in short supply as well.
One of these groups in short supply is Clinical Laboratorians (Medical Technologists and Medical Laboratory Technicians). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting that the demand for clinical laboratorians will far exceed the supply of new workers in the coming years. Approximately 313,000 medical technologists and technicians are working in the U.S. today. It is estimated that 5,300 new positions will be created each year through 2008. In addition, upcoming retirements will create a demand for an additional 4,000 laboratorians per year. Therefore, through 2008, the U.S. will require 9,300 new laboratorians each year. Last year there were only 5,000 new laboratorians certified. It is likely that this number will be even lower this year.
We are the professionals who perform laboratory analyses on patient specimens which are essential in the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of disease. Modern medicine relies heavily on the work we do. It is estimated that 75% of medical diagnoses rely on laboratory testing. In the recent E. coli outbreak in Milwaukee we would not know that E. coli was the culprit or that the strains found in the beef, salad bar, and patient were all the same without competent laboratory professionals. Yet, our profession works behind the scenes, and many do not consider making this a career because they do not know of the important work that we do for patient care.
We would appreciate an opportunity to talk with you. Perhaps public awareness will help turnaround the declining numbers who choose clinical laboratory careers before the shortage reaches the point where it adversely affects patient care.