Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an aging workforce, the healthcare field is experiencing a significant labor shortage. As demand for laboratory services has grown and more healthcare workers choose to retire, these shortages have continued to grow.
Reliable access to laboratory services is an essential component of healthcare. Like nursing or medicine, laboratory services require competent and well-trained technologists to deliver the best patient outcomes.
Why Is There a Shortage of Laboratory Professionals?
As national metrics and the Centers for Medicare Services tie reimbursement to improved patient outcomes, physicians and hospitals have steadily ordered more laboratory tests. This has caused an increase in demand for these services and a nationwide need for timely results. However, the disparity between the demand for services and the supply of laboratory professionals has widened.
Fewer People are Becoming Laboratory Professionals
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and The Great Resignation, the competition for competent and reliable workers has become fierce. Wages have been steadily increasing in all fields, but some have increased their wages more quickly to retain their workers. Although healthcare is a rewarding field, there has not been a comparable increase in wages due to the tight margins caused by the pandemic.
Additionally, the training and expectations of laboratory professionals are often greater than that in other fields. Vacancy rates in the laboratory often exceed the annual number of MLS and MLT graduates.
Because of the high expectations for a laboratory professional and the fierce competition for workers, the supply of laboratory professionals is not currently meeting the increased demand for technologists and laboratory services.
COVID Testing Is a New Logistical Challenge
The industry requires more technologists to enter the field to meet the increased need for laboratory services. Unfortunately, the demand for laboratory professionals has only grown with the emergence of COVID-19 testing sites.
COVID testing has required implementing a massive national infrastructure that includes laboratory professionals to ensure compliance with regulations, perform laboratory techniques such as PCR, and report the results to patients or stakeholders (i.e., hospitals, physicians, or governmental organizations). The increasing demand for COVID testing has exacerbated the already worsening shortage of laboratory professionals.
Testing Is More Elaborate, Complicated & Expansive
In addition to the increased demand for laboratory services, there is also increased complexity in the laboratory tests performed. Research and advances in medical science have increased the breadth and specialization of laboratory testing.
For example, patients who require chronic transfusion of blood products may require extensive workups and complex antibody identification to ensure they receive the most appropriate donor blood products. Blood group genomic testing can often help in these complex situations as well.
How Can the Industry Meet the Demand for Laboratory Testing?
The disparity in the supply and demand of workers requires creative and robust solutions.
Invest in Education & Awareness
In a 2018 memo, the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science notes that, to address the clinical laboratory workforce shortage, the organization “supports engaging in outreach opportunities that promote the clinical laboratory science profession within middle and high schools, including guidance counselors and science teachers, and partnering with STEM education activities.”
NYBCe agrees with this approach — this is why education is such a crucial part of our mission.
In addition to providing high-quality blood products and conducting innovative, life-saving research, we train and educate the next generation of blood banking and transfusion medicine leaders. We accomplish this goal through various opportunities such as lectures, webinars, a fellowship program, and other educational resources.These resources are available to our hospital customers via the internet and can serve to help satisfy the staff’s requirements for yearly CE training.
By sharing our resources and knowledge, NYBCe helps to create a future where the medical laboratory profession continues to be a vital and promising healthcare career.
Partner With a Specialized Lab Services Provider
Clinical laboratory workforce shortages make it difficult for blood banks and their reference labs to find technologists, let alone trained and qualified individuals to run highly specialized testing.
Many blood banks and blood centers already find it challenging to comply with all regulations and maintain staff competency, especially for infrequently performed assays.
Partnering with a highly specialized reference lab like New York Blood Center Enterprises (NYBCe) ensures blood banks receive quality laboratory results in a timely and cost-effective manner. This approach allows you to leverage a team of highly qualified technologists despite current industry limitations.
Contact New York Blood Center Enterprises
If you are looking for lab services for your blood bank, then rely on the experts at New York Blood Center Enterprises.
We will work with you to determine what type of testing will be best suited for your blood bank’s needs. Contact us today to learn more about our lab services.