The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) has joined the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) as a member and has made a Commitment to Action to create more job opportunities in the medical laboratory by expanding educational access to laboratory science programs. ASCP first announced the Expanding the Laboratory Workforce for the 21st Century commitment at the 2011 CGI Annual Meeting, and ASCP plans to grow these programs in New York state.
The long-term goal of the project is to create a model for New York that can be implemented in states across the country.
Established by President Bill Clinton in 2005, CGI convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges, including access to health care and education. To date, CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which have improved the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. ASCP Immediate Past President, John E. Tomaszewski, MD, FASCP, attended the 2011 CGI Annual Meeting, which was held Sept. 20-22 in New York City.
ASCP's five-year commitment includes working with a coalition of clinical laboratory organizations, government agencies, and industry partners to increase the number of graduating laboratory professionals in New York by 10 percent. ASCP currently partners with the University at Buffalo, Stony Brook University, and Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, all part of the State University of New York. The plan will develop classrooms and distance learning curricula, create a coordinated network of clinical rotation sites, create an accelerated technician to technologist program, and develop an electronic instrumentation simulation laboratory.
Due to an aging workforce, the closure of clinical laboratory science training programs, and a resulting workforce shortage, ASCP has tackled the herculean project of ensuring that hospitals and clinics are staffed with well-trained and qualified personnel to provide accurate test results and maintain high standards of safety in the laboratory.
"We know that federal funding for training programs like laboratory science is drying up, so through our membership with the Clinton Global Initiative we have been provided a renewed outlook on successfully creating jobs through education and providing the highest quality of patient care," said Dr. Tomaszewski, Professor and Chair of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences in the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. "ASCP views these obstacles as a call to action for a reinvigorated approach to developing career opportunities in laboratory science."
In 2010 the average age of the laboratory workforce was 49.2, whereas in 2006 it was 43.6. In New York six out of nine laboratory departments surveyed reported that more than 10 percent of their employees planned to retire within five years. And approximately 640 new laboratory professionals are needed every year, but only 237 are graduating each year in the state. ASCP plans to increase this number to 355. According to the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), school closings in the last 15 years have cut the number of clinical laboratory science graduates nationally from approximately 7,000 in 1994 to 6,000 in 2009. Since 1990, nearly 25 percent of these programs have been slashed.
Obstacles to Overcome
Overall, the recent ASCP Survey of the New York State Laboratory Workforce suggests the critical challenges for laboratory training programs are:
- Enhancing faculty positions to attract more members;
- Increasing access to modern laboratory technology;
- Boosting the number of laboratory professional students, and;
- Developing a bigger applicant pool.
The ASCP survey shows that only 15 percent of the NAACLS-accredited training programs in New York state offer online academic work, supporting the need to develop more distance learning curricula. Confirming the importance of funding for training laboratory professionals, 80 percent of the survey respondents reported they had experienced funding challenges. The most common concern was high overall program expenditure, for example, the cost per student, compared to other degree programs; the second highest ranking challenge was decreased access to state-of-the-art equipment to train laboratory students. Other concerns included difficulty recruiting students, trouble attracting faculty, and finding open slots for students who apply to the program.
Supporting the ASCP Survey, the percentage of students enrolled in the medical technician and medical laboratory scientist programs in New York state dropped from 22 percent in 2007 to 8.75 percent in 2011. The percentage of students taking phlebotomy programs in New York state dipped from 14.6 percent in 2007 to 7.9 percent in 2011.
"The Clinton Global Initiative and its many commitments have shown repeatedly that collaboration creates success and that there is strength in numbers," said ASCP Executive Vice President E. Blair Holladay, PhD, SCT(ASCP)CM. "The economy continues to falter. People are looking for work and real jobs. This CGI commitment by ASCP will connect like-minded organizations committed to connecting job seekers with a real career opportunity in this profession and improving health care along the way. We are a strong organization, but we also know that collaboration is key and that we're stronger together."
ASCP proactively looks for ways to create awareness of the laboratory profession. The Society has a network of representatives who connect with schools and businesses to highlight the benefits of the profession and encourage students and job-seekers to consider laboratory science as a career option. ASCP also works with a coalition of laboratory science groups to support National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, a national celebration and recognition of the laboratory professionals' critical role on the health care team. Lab Week will be held April 22-28, 2012. The Society also has numerous scholarships to encourage laboratory science education and is a voice on Capitol Hill asking legislators to increase funding and address issues that impact pay and standardization of practice.
More information on careers in laboratory medicine is available at http://www.ascp.org/careers.
Founded in 1922 in Chicago, ASCP is a professional society with more than 100,000 member pathologists, residents, laboratory professionals, and students. ASCP provides excellence in education, certification, and advocacy on behalf of patients, pathologists, and laboratory professionals.
More information about laboratory professionals is available at http://www.ascp.org.
About the Clinton Global Initiative
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $69.2 billion.
CGI's Annual Meeting is held each September in New York City. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. The CGI U 2012 meeting will be hosted by the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9222147.htm
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