There is a Great Need for More Useful MLS Research
love science! I always have and I always will. So when I asked recently to be a judge
at a science fair at a local college, I immediately jumped at the request. I was really impressed with the quality of the
projects and the soundness of the research, the hypotheses proposed, and the findings.
were no MLS students, but other healthcare professions were represented. I noticed that most of the cool toys were developed by
the computer (IT), engineering and robotics students. I also took note that pre-pharmacy,
dietetics and nursing students had quite a few papers and posters
about the value of their profession to healthcare. Nursing especially had several
research projects on nursing skills, nursing practice, expanding scope of practice, value of nursing diagnoses and ideal nurse-staffing
standards. There were also several examples of joint student-faculty collaboration.
goal is to have much of the research published in print and electronic journals.
The students will receive not just academic credit but valuable exposure and the
pride of adding to the body of knowledge of their respective professions. I thought
that, given the quality of work I observed, there will be no scarcity of good data which will prove useful (and usable) for their
few years ago when I worked on a staffing taskforce for a national healthcare
company, we had a tons on research on nurse-patient ratios, patient outcomes based on
nursing skill mix and the like. But we could find nothing except old CAP workload units and generic
productivity data for the laboratory. Consequently, nursing staffing was increased based on
lobbying and the use of published data, while staffing in several other areas including the laboratory
was cut back. Instead across the company they were asked to cross train and work flex hours (including partial shifts)
to reduce labor costs. Supervisors were expected to take on more bench work.
need more MLS research. I don’t mean just academic PhD-level type studies, but
we need more useful (and usable) data on appropriate skills mix for the laboratory,
the most effective MLS ratio to patient census or MLS/test volume ratios. We should be able to even correlate some
outcomes (length of stay, discharge from ICU) to the volume and type of laboratory
will not happen overnight. However, as I look at what other professions are
doing I realize we do not have the same amount of direct, robust research available
that would bolster our requests for adequate staffing or inclusion as vital members
of the healthcare team. As a simple example: how do you measure productivity? How do you decide your benchmark? What evidence do you have that a particular benchmark is relevant?
Without specific targeted MLS-specific research we are likely to
be considered “ancillaries” and allocated staffing and other resources based not
on hard data, but on financial considerations, regardless of effect on patient