I have posted a number of notes in the past about the shortage of trained lab professionals and the aging of medical technologists (see: Comments on the Medical Technologist Shortage; Strategic Challenges Facing Hospital-Based Pathology & Lab Medicine Groups).
ARUP has come up with a very interesting solution to this problem (see: ARUP LABORATORIES AND WEBER STATE UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCE EDUCATIONAL COLLABORATION). The basic concept is that ARUP is partnering with Weber State University to offer on-line courses to personnel working in its client hospital labs. The on-line learning leads to Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) bachelor’s degrees and Clinical Laboratory Technician (CLT) associate’s degrees for participants. Here is the data quoted in the press release describing the magnitude of the impending lab personnel shortage:
“According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the period of 2002 through 2010, 12,400 graduates will be needed annually to staff the nation's clinical laboratories. However, on a national basis less than half of the necessary laboratory personnel are graduating,” said ARUP President and COO Ronald L. Weiss, MD, MBA. “We are seeing these shortages become more critical within community health systems that are growing their outreach programs. This collaboration provides our client laboratories with an opportunity to educate laboratory personnel, without taking them away from their work sites.”
Dr. Weiss will be one of the speakers at the sixth annual Lab InfoTech Summit to be held in Las Vegas on March 16-18, 2009.He will be discussing at that time how to ameliorate "pain points" that crop up between hospital labs and their reference labs.
This ARUP/Weber State program strikes me as innovative and effective for the following reasons:
- First of all, the program has a powerful marketing component to it -- the educational benefit is offered only to ARUP client labs.
- Secondly, the program offers the opportunity to earn a CLS/CLT degree to personnel already working in a lab environment and who have thus demonstrated their interest, enthusiasm, and aptitude for clinical lab work.
- Third, the on-line aspect of the program takes the learning to the students' workplace or home via a virtual classroom rather than the usual approach where the student needs to travel to the educational institution. To restate the obvious, on-line education creates infinite classroom space.
- Finally and because the on-line learners are already working in lab positions, they are able to discuss interesting or confusing elements of their courses with all of their at-work colleagues. This results in a very useful exchange of information and compensates, in part, for the lack of face-time with their Weber State instructors.