We are facing a major shortage of medical technologists in this country (see: Comments on the Medical Technologist Shortage; The Continuing Shortage of Medical Technologists: a Challenge for Hospital Labs). They constitute an absolutely essential component of the clinical labs. They are the front line troops who perform nearly all of the essential tasks including most new test development. Many medical schools and universities have walked away from their medical technology programs because they can be complex to organize and manage and faculty members may be difficult to recruit. Now comes the news that the University of Hawaii will once again admit students to its medical technology baccalaureate degree program (see: UH to admit medical technology students again). Below are the details:
Donations are enabling the University of Hawaii to once again admit students to its medical technology baccalaureate degree program. Clinical Laboratories of Hawaii and Diagnostic Laboratory Services saved the program with $100,000 in donations to the university. The money is allowing the John A. Burns School of Medicine to support a full-time faculty member for the next two years. State budget cuts forced the school's Medical Technology Department to stop admitting new baccalaureate students last summer.The university since sought private support for the program.
As we all know, many states like Hawaii are in severe financial stress and are thus cutting back on allocations to their state university programs. For various reasons, med tech programs seem to be particularly vulnerable to cutbacks and closure. I think that part of the problem is that the essential role of this group of healthcare professionals is not well understood by politicians and the various higher education officials. It's telling with regard to the University of Hawaii that: (1) the funding of only one faculty member for two years was sufficient to resurrect the program; and (2) the money was obtained from two local commercial reference labs. Of course, these labs have a significant vested interest in such a program, often hiring the graduates for their labs.