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Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt
Even though the task forces and committees understand the laboratorians' concerns about the degree, the members believe the DCLS will improve the overall healthcare system and the well-being of patients.
"The greatest positive is patients will receive better care. With the help of this doctorate, healthcare providers will be able to ask questions about the right tests to order and what to do with the results," Passiment told ADVANCE. "This practitioner will be able to direct consults to pathologists when appropriate so physicians use the laboratory's service in a more timely and efficient manner."
Dr. Lambrecht added a DCLS position will make sure facilities do not waste healthcare dollars by ordering the wrong tests and delaying a patient's diagnosis and treatment.
He also mentioned the position will help people see the value of laboratory services and enhance the profession's visibility.
"It needs to be recognized the clinical laboratory is an essential component and plays a critical role in the new era of healthcare delivery," Dr. Lambrecht noted.
Additionally, DCLS supporters believe the degree will provide a new and challenging career opportunity, and they hope this will keep laboratorians in the profession. And, perhaps most importantly, it will solve the problem of the gap between other healthcare personnel and the laboratory.
"Other healthcare professionals don't know enough about our profession and its responsibilities to change the system. Only we can do that, and no one in our field is prepared for this responsibility right now without this degree," Dr. Kenimer-Leibach explained. "I'm convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt this is exactly what we need for our profession, and something that needs to be fulfilled to improve healthcare quality."
Amanda Koehler (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate editor of ADVANCE.
Views from the Professionals
In a recent Question of the Month on our Web site, ADVANCE asked readers, "What do you think about the Doctorate in Clinical Laboratory Science?" Here are some of the responses.
I do not think this degree is needed. I think some in the CLS profession have an inferiority complex.
Berrien Springs, MI
I think it is very good to have a doctorate to be able to share knowledge learned in the laboratory. Higher education does not stop with the bachelor's degree or master's degree. Everybody will benefit from it.
-Gloria Olsen, CLS(NCA),
Park Nicollett Health Services,
I think a Doctorate in Clinical Laboratory Science would be a step forward for the laboratory. Laboratorians traditionally have been trained in performing and evaluating lab testing, and a doctorate could take the science of the lab to a higher level.
We need professionals who can and will speak to physicians and help clarify test utilization on a higher level. I would definitely be interested in pursuing a doctorate degree.
MT(ASCP), SH, MBA,
MCG Health Inc.,
I believe the doctorate in CLS is a good step for advancement of our career in CLS. I am not interested in obtaining this degree. I do think it will benefit the profession; however, hospital and reference laboratories will not likely hire this individual because there really isn't a 'need' at this time for this position.
Hospital and reference labs are trying to cut costs, thanks to our wonderful government, CLIA, Medicare, insurance companies and the various other healthcare systems. Labs consistently get hit the hardest, as we laboratorians know. If this individual is hired, the pay range would probably be the same or only very slightly higher than the current BS degree.
A BS CLS can perform the management functions required in these laboratories; at the most an MS would be required. In spite of this reality, I do believe it is important for the profession.
MS, CLS(NCA), MT(ASCP),
Program Director, CLS Program,
Rapid City (SD)
To prepare for the future of dwindling revenue and clinical laboratory professionals, the movement toward the Doctorate in Clinical Laboratory Science will be extremely important.
It is essential our professionals move into the direct patient testing environment to be available to assist and consult with providers on appropriate test utilization. Every day clinical laboratory professionals witness both over and under-utilization in test ordering that could be positively impacted by having a doctorate level professional at the point of direct patient care.
For each correctly ordered test, dollars and patient outcomes could be positively impacted.
-Lezlee Koch, CLS(NCA),
Clinical Laboratory Manager,
Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health System,
Sioux Falls, SD
I think a doctorate would be silly, because what is this degree going to provide that we MLT/MTs are not doing now? More money? Probably not. More managerial work? Not. You'll just be able to say you have a Doctorate in Clinical Laboratory Science. I do not think this degree will benefit this profession.
-Sharron King, MT(AMT),
St. Vincent Jennings Hospital,
North Vernon, IN
I think it would be overkill. We struggle to get appropriate recognition at the 4-year level. Many labs are hiring 2-year laboratorians to lower cost. I think a doctorate would be a great challenge. I think many techs could achieve this goal. I do not believe we would be valued for it.
-Ann Schwind, MT(ASCP),
Ripon (WI) Medical Center