Laboratory Staffing and a Faltering Connection
December 2017 - Vol. 6 No. 10 - Page #14

The impending clinical laboratory science (CLS) workforce shortage is well documented; approximately 40% of the workforce is expected to retire in the next 10 years.1,2 Clinical laboratories across the country are understaffed and frequently have difficulty filling open positions. Many medical laboratory scientists (MLS) consistently work more than 40 hours a week or work more than one job to meet current workforce demands. Based on data from the US Department of Labor and Statistics, by 2021 there will be a projected workforce shortage of more than 150,000 clinical laboratory science professionals in the United States (roughly 39% of the total workforce need3); MLS will be the profession hardest hit among clinical laboratory science professionals (see FIGURE 1). Strategies, such as increasing laboratory automation, expanding point-of-care testing, hiring additional support staff with less education or fewer credentials, and outsourcing laboratory tests will not be sufficient to address the workforce shortage and cannot replace the crucial role of MLS in the clinical laboratory.4

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