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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

Facebook Page Supports Personnel Licensure

Published January 13, 2011 2:49 PM by Glen McDaniel

Over the years I have written many articles about clinical laboratory personnel licensure, including several blogs like this one.

I continue to believe that licensure is necessary for protection of the public's health as well as our scope of practice as a profession.

The feeling is not as simplistic or as selfish as licensure means immediate increased pay. However, the converse is true; pay will always be depressed if unlicensed personnel can legally practice what is a very specific profession of educated professionals using a very distinct body of knowledge.

A Facebook group dedicated to addressing the issue of personnel licensure has been  launched recently. Spearheaded by Tymm Brown, MLS,  a generalist at the  University of Minnesota Medical Center, the page is already receiving positive feedback.

In Brown's words, "This group is for laboratory professionals (and the friends of laboratory professionals) to discuss laboratory personnel licensure, why it is needed, and to share information on the progress as many states are taking steps towards this worthy goal. Think about this, if the person who gives you a haircut or hairstyle has a license, you would probably want the person who lets up units of blood on a trauma patient or performs several diagnostic tests (tests which 80% of the time affects a doctor's diagnosis and treatment) to be licensed as well."

The question of licensure has been long-debated and continues to create spirited discussion among laboratorians. Organizations which were adamantly anti-licensure for whatever reason have largely moderated their position to some degree.

The page provides links to the main professional organizations' stance on personnel licensure and will also aim to give update on the licensure efforts of different states.

This page is definitely worth visiting.

 

11 comments

This is a great page. I wish we had something like this when we were looking at licensure in New York. We had a big fight and most of the misinformation and fighting was from techs themselves. They worried about cost, claimed that OJT folks losing jobs and all sorts of things. They spread rumors. This page allows folks to be informed and to ask questions  to those who know about licensure. I think New York is much much better off because of licensure. Eery single state needs licensure for CLS and CLT.

Minerva Carter MLS February 10, 2011 12:32 AM
Queens NY

Ramon:

Here is your answer from ASCLS

http://www.ascls.org/jobs/grads/personnellicensure.pdf

It's essentailly 12 states and Puerto Rico. Georgia is a mixed bag; it has facilities licensure and professionals have to be registered with the state. They have to meet different requirements to be recognized as an MT, MLT, supervisor and director.

However in realty I have never known a facility to get into trouble for using an MLT as an MT for example. Also individuals have been known to work without registering with the state.  Over the years, others like pharmacists have attempted to perform laboratory testing and have succeeded to a degree without legal challenge.

So Georgia does not have  true licensure in the classic sense.

Glen McDaniel January 23, 2011 3:54 PM

How many of the states have the licenses for MTs?

Ramon Mt (ASCP) Chemistry Super January 20, 2011 7:55 PM
San Juan PR

In Tennessee we have licensure for almost 20 years and it has certainly helped us. I am paid more than I ever was and we have kept out those people who are not qualified.

Some hospital CEOs still try to make us work short to save money. But we have also been able to ask for more pay when we are shortstaff. If we didnt have licensure I think they would try to train nurses and rad techs and others to take our jobs at less pay.

So, yes, it has helped to have a license. And to be honest the fee we pay is worth it. I budget it for it just like my car tag and evrything else.

Solis MT, Generalist January 18, 2011 5:43 PM
Nashville TN

The public is demanding better healthcare and they want to know they are getting quality service for the money. 80% of diagnosis comes from the laboratory, so how can we continue to impact healthcare at such a high level and not have a license to practice? Currently, Med techs are not considered professionals by other healthcare practitioners. I am a professional and I wish to have that designation and respect. To me, this isn't about money, this is about demanding respect and giving the public what they deserve, quality healthcare from licensed professionals.

Julia Witt, SH(ASCP) January 17, 2011 8:05 PM
Springfield MO

Tymm: thanks for your response and weighing in on this blog.

Marilyn and Janice: I do appreciate your concern but I’d like to take this opportunity to address some basic issues that you touch on.

As Marilyn said (and I indicated in the initial blog) licensure will not mean an automatic increase in salary-or prestige. However, if there is no legal mandate for an employer to hire only licensed professionals, then it means salaries need not (and will not) be as high as they should be. So while licensure does not guarantee better pay,  lack of licensure definitely keeps pay lower. Period!

The fact that some of us in the professions see licensure as a scam or a way for agencies to earn money is a result of lack of education and also misunderstanding of certain concepts. No one enjoys paying for their driver’s license. But we all concede we would rather have only licensed drivers behind the wheel when we and our loved ones are on the road. Therefore we don’t argue about paying for the privilege of driving. I would prefer knowing that a licensed professional is performing my lab tests rather than someone trained on the job or someone who was hired simply because they are cheap labor. Clinical lab science is not the place for free agents.

There is the confusion of considering certification and licensure identical. Certification is a totally voluntary process-usually accomplished by passing an exam set by a private organization- that many professionals choose to pursue. Organizations like AMT, ASCP (Board of Certification) and the former NCA all provided certification. A certified person (MLS, CLS, MT, MLT, CLT) is one who has demonstrated a level of knowledge by passing an exam strictly by choice. Certification is very important since several studies have found that certified laboratorians consistently perform better on proficiency testing, and by extension producing more accurate patient results.

http://ajcp.ascpjournals.org/content/132/4/550.full

http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/258/3/361.full.pdf

But, don’t forget, no one is licensed by NCA, AMT, ASCP or AAB- they are just certified. There is no such thing as an “ASCP license.”

On the other hand, licensure is a legal function mandated by the government. Licensure is a process by which a state government grants permission to an individual to engage in a specific occupation provided the person has met certain qualifications. Very often the government uses a statutory board to administer the licensure function. The significant difference between certification and licensure is that it is illegal to practice wthout a license. You can be charged, removed from practice and maybe even put in prison if you practice without a required license. This is what most of us think is needed. certification is a necessary nicety, but it is not enough to protect the public or the profession.

Also licensure is a state function, therefore federal/national licensure is really not an option.

As to the duplication, cost and inconvenience of taking several state licensure exams: states can choose to recognize national certification for the purposes of granting a license. This would ensure some standardization, reduce cost and increase mobility among states. But the point is a licensure would guarantee a minimum level of competence.

Most significantly those who are not licensed as clinical laboratorians (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical assistants, clinical lab students, individuals trained on the job) would not be able to legally practice as clinical laboratorians.

Dont forget this goes beyond self-preservation. It also protects the public health as well.

Glen McDaniel January 17, 2011 7:19 PM

Marilyn MLT,

Licensure does not absolutely guarantee a raise in pay true,  but to NOT obtain licensure is a surefire way not increase your pay regardless, not to mention licensure protects YOUR scope of practice, which is very, very important. Certification is an important but purely voluntary practice, only licensure can BY LAW protect your scope of practice.

This “scam” as you put it, is done by all other ancillary fields. Want to guess how those fields are doing? Do you hear of them wanting to dump their licensure because they think its a scam? When is the last time you heard that nurses wanted to give up their licensure?

I myself have talked to quite a few people in some states that require licensure for there lab personnel (California, New York and North Dakota) and the ones I talked to are very glad they are licensed personnel.

As to other things you have mentioned, MLT’s are in our Minnesota Licensure and nobody in that is trying to get rid of them, the deal wit the Doctorate is also something not to “get rid” of anyone, but hopefully open up new positions and avenues for the lab.

In the lab, we have an uphill battle, but it can be done, Licensure is a very important step towards this goal.

Tymm Brown, Generalist - MLS, UMMC, Fairview January 17, 2011 11:03 AM
Mpls MN

I dont think we will get anywhere unless we have national or federal licensure. Each state is going to fight one by one and meet with opposition from doctors and hospitals. Some states have tried year after year and still be unsuccessful. Then again the rules are going to be so different from state to state.

People thought we  would never have civil rights laws or healthcare or any number of laws. But now there are federal standards that apply to everyone. That's what w eneed for teh lab. Did any of our organizations try this approach?

Janice MT (ASCP) January 16, 2011 6:05 PM
Northfield IL

You know why licensure is not a good idea?? It does not raise our pay. Plus in this economy who wants one more monthly bill to pay? Or yearly bill?  ASCP and other organizations will just take our money and do nothing. So we get a  license. No one will know or care. Every few years it's something else. First they wanted to get rid of MLTs to "elevate" the profession. Then they wanted everyone to have a master's then it was licensure, then a doctorate, now it's back to licensure. Until you can show me our pay will increase it's just anothe scam to me.

Marilyn MLT January 14, 2011 7:24 PM
Detroit MI

We definitely need licensure. There are only 2 types of  people who dont think we need licensure. Either those who dont know what we do or how highly trained we are-doctors, nurses, the public OR those who want to keep us down like pathologists. I cant see why anyone in the profession woudl be against a license.

Jonas S. MT January 14, 2011 1:45 PM
Chicago IL

Thank you for the very kind words, Glen. Its only been a few days, but its growing pretty well!

Tymm Brown, Generalist - MLS, UMMC, Fairview January 14, 2011 12:57 PM
Mpls MN

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