Laboratorians quickly learn that change is constant, whether it is in information systems, instrumentation, pricing or fees. Yet shortages in the laboratory professions have been with us for at least a generation.
Since the 1980s, we have heard messages similar to those shared in the U.S. Department of Labor's most recent reports: Employment of clinical laboratory workers is expected to grow. Most jobs will continue to be in hospitals, but employment will grow rapidly in other settings, such as the biotech industry, universities and research labs, private laboratories and blood centers. Technological advances will continue to have opposing effects on employment.
Enrollment in specialized technologist/scientist and technician educational programs is lowest in blood banking. In 2009, there were a total of 5,124 Specialists in Blood Bank (SBB) certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) and only 89 newly certified last year.
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According to the American Hospital Association, there are 5,759 registered hospitals in the U.S. With a ratio of less than one SBB per hospital and replacement of all specialists projected to take more than 50 years, the gap has to be filled by medical laboratory scientists trained as generalists.
Instrument/automation advances (e.g., Ortho Provue and Immucor's Galileo, Echo and Neo) allow testing itself to be easier to perform; generalists are capable of handling all but the rarest issues in blood banking. A generalist working in the blood bank needs to know five additional items independent of running an analyzer. Learn the five musts by clicking on the link below.