To Address Shortage of Medical Lab Workers in New York State, UB Partners with ASCP and CGI

Release Date: February 23, 2012 This content is archived.


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UB's Tomaszewski says that UB and its partners are creating in New York a model for laboratory workforce development that can expand to other states, too.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo is partnering with the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) for a Commitment to Action through the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) that will create more medical laboratory job opportunities in New York State by expanding educational access to laboratory science programs.

The goal of the ASCP, UB and CGI commitment is to increase the number of graduating laboratory professionals in New York by 10 percent during the five-year project, from an annual graduation rate of 237 to 355.

In addition to UB, ASCP also is partnering with Stony Brook University and Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, all part of the State University of New York, as well as with a coalition of clinical laboratory organizations, government agencies and industry partners.

The plan will develop classrooms and distance learning curricula, create a coordinated network of clinical rotation sites, create an accelerated technician-to-technologist program and develop an electronic-instrumentation simulation laboratory.

The long-term goal of the project is to create a model for New York State that can be implemented throughout the U.S.

"We know that federal funding for training programs like laboratory science is drying up," says John E. Tomaszewski, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and ASCP's immediate past president. "ASCP views this and other obstacles as a call to action for a reinvigorated approach to developing career opportunities in laboratory science. Our commitment with ASCP through the Clinton Global Initiative has provided a renewed outlook on successfully creating jobs through education and providing the highest quality of patient care."

Tomaszewski attended the CGI annual meeting last September in New York City, where ASCP announced the Expanding the Laboratory Workforce for the 21st Century initiative.

"ASCP is working to create a significant solution to the challenge of job creation," said Tomaszewski. "The SUNY partners already on board like UB, Stony Brook University and Upstate Medical in Syracuse are dedicated to piloting this program in New York and creating a strong model for laboratory workforce development that we can to expand into other states in the near future."

According to ASCP, the project is being launched to ensure that hospitals and clinics are staffed with well-trained and qualified personnel to provide accurate test results and maintain high standards of safety in the laboratory.

The project will address the factors that are contributing to the shortage of qualified laboratory personnel, such as an aging workforce and the recent closure of clinical laboratory science training programs. According to the ASCP, in 2010 the average age of the laboratory workforce in the U.S. was 49.2, whereas in 2006 it was 43.6.

In New York State, in particular, six out of nine laboratory departments surveyed reported that more than 10 percent of their employees planned to retire within five years and while New York State requires approximately 640 new laboratory professionals every year, the state is producing only 237 graduates annually.

Nationally, school closings in the last 15 years have cut the number of clinical laboratory science graduates; since 1990, nearly 25 percent of these programs have been slashed.

Overall, the recent ASCP Survey of the New York State Laboratory Workforce suggests the critical challenges for laboratory training programs are:

• Enhancing faculty positions to attract more members;

• Increasing access to modern laboratory technology;

• Boosting the number of laboratory professional students; and

• Developing a bigger applicant pool.

The ASCP survey shows that only 15 percent of the NAACLS-accredited training programs in New York State offer online academic work, supporting the need to develop more distance learning curricula. Confirming the importance of funding for training laboratory professionals, 80 percent of the survey respondents reported they had experienced funding challenges. The most common concern was high overall program expenditure, such as the cost per student, compared to other degree programs; the second highest ranking challenge was decreased access to state-of-the-art equipment to train laboratory students. Other concerns include difficulty recruiting students, trouble attracting faculty and finding open slots for students who apply to the program.

Supporting the ASCP Survey, the percentage of students enrolled in medical technician and medical laboratory scientist programs in New York State dropped from 22 percent in 2007 to 8.75 percent in 2011. The percentage of students taking phlebotomy programs in New York State dipped from 14.6 percent in 2007 to 7.9 percent in 2011.

"The Clinton Global Initiative and its many commitments have shown repeatedly that collaboration creates success and that there is strength in numbers," said ASCP Executive Vice President E. Blair Holladay, PhD. "The economy continues to falter. People are looking for work and real jobs. This commitment by ASCP will connect like-minded organizations committed to connecting job seekers with a real career opportunity in this profession and improving health care along the way. We are a strong organization, but we also know that collaboration is key and that we're stronger together."

About the American Society for Clinical Pathology

ASCP proactively looks for ways to create awareness of the laboratory profession. The society has a network of representatives who connect with schools and businesses to highlight the benefits of the profession and encourage students and job-seekers to consider laboratory science as a career option. ASCP also works with a coalition of laboratory science groups to support National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, a national celebration and recognition of the laboratory professionals' critical role on the health care team. Lab Week will be held April 22-28. The society also has numerous scholarships to encourage laboratory science education and is a voice on Capitol Hill asking legislators to increase funding and address issues that impact pay and standardization of practice.

About the Clinton Global Initiative

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. CGI annual meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $69.2 billion.

CGI's annual meeting is held each September in New York City. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. The CGI U 2012 meeting will be hosted by the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit, follow on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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