It's Time to Inspire a New Generation of Lab Professionals
While you're celebrating the accomplishments of lab professionals across the country, take a few moments to consider the future of the profession. The shortage of lab professionals is well known, and it will only get more critical.
What can you do about it? Share insights into lab careers with students, and take a hand in inspiring a new corps of laboratorians.
COLA is introducing one initiative, called "Give Back Day," during National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week.
"Give Back Day" is designed to empower laboratory staff at all levels to "give back" to local communities by exposing area students to the laboratory industry. COLA offers a free "how to" kit for engaging local elementary and middle school students in lab demonstrations and getting them animated about the unknown world of laboratory medicine.
"As we salute the more than 300,000 medical laboratory professionals around the country who perform and interpret millions of tests in the U.S. each year, we must also focus on the growing lab worker shortage that, if not resolved, can adversely impact the lives of every American," says Doug Beigel, chief executive officer of COLA via a news release.
More than 40,000 current lab jobs are vacant in the United States according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and it is estimated that 14,000 new lab professionals will be needed annually. Current educational programs only produce about 5,000 new professionals each year.
"The good news is that a lab career offers young people a stable, attractive, potentially lucrative professional path during economically challenging times," adds Beigel. "For example, US News and World Report chose ‘Laboratory Technicians' as one of the best careers of 2011. The ‘Give Back Day' concept is designed to educate young people about the many job opportunities that exist in laboratory science careers, and the enormous contributions these workers make to delivery of the kind of safe and effective care patients deserve."
COLA developed the "Give Back Day" initiative after recently exposing over 30 students in two Baltimore schools to the world of laboratory science by staging a series of lab demonstrations. The success of the program prompted COLA to create a kit for interested laboratories, including step-by-step instructions for:
- Engaging potential partners such as local Big Brothers/Big Sisters or Boys and Girls Clubs chapters.
- Identifying and selecting schools willing to participate.
- Developing program content and curriculum featuring laboratory demonstrations.
- Procuring needed materials.
- Contacting other local civic officials and organizations to join in the event.
- Publicizing the event to local media.
To obtain a copy of the Give Back Day kit, contact Richard Cross at COLA at 410-381-6581. The kit will soon be available electronically at http://www.colacares.com/.