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URMC Partners to Provide More Trained Laboratory Workers

Creative Collaboration Aims to Help Solve a Critical Shortage.

Friday, January 16, 2009

If you have ever watched CSI on TV, you have an inkling of what laboratory technologists do, assessing and preparing tissue to detect disease or trauma to solve a crime. The steps are the same in health care, and it’s vitally important to have well-trained licensed staff performing the work. Currently there is a critical shortage of qualified laboratory professionals and the University of Rochester Medical Center is taking a pro-active approach to remedy the situation.

The first graduates of the only clinical training program for laboratory technicians in upstate New York will receive certificates 4 to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19 in LeChase Assembly Hall of the Medical Center. The completion of their training makes them eligible to sit for the Clinical Laboratory Licensing Examination allowing them to become licensed laboratory technologists and technicians.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 12,400 medical laboratory employees will be needed from now through 2012 to staff the nation’s clinical laboratories. To counter this potential crisis, URMC has teamed up with Broome Community College and other statewide institutions to promote and facilitate the education of medical laboratory staff. Plans are already under way to expand the program, and the Medical Center has scheduled three more groups to complete clinical training in December 2009, 2010 and 2011.

“Laboratory professionals play a vital role in the health care community by providing critical information that contributes to early diagnosis, effective treatment, and assessment and maintenance of the overall health of our patients,” said Vicki Roberts, education coordinator in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. “In order to maintain our ability to provide excellent clinical value, the University has taken a solution based, point blank approach by responding to the workforce shortage and implementing these educational initiatives.”

Offered through the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, the program is unique, allowing students to study and train without interrupting their employment. Broome Community College in Binghamton provided a fully online curriculum tailored to fit the needs of the students. The required 300 hours of clinical, on-site training is done at URMC in various laboratories including the Blood Bank, Clinical Chemistry, Hematology, Immunology/Serology, Microbiology and Urinalysis.

The scope of the project has spanned the state of New York, attracting partners from Syracuse, Binghamton, Cortland and Utica. It is partially funded by Central New York Area Health Education Center and the Health Workforce Retraining Initiative, a state-funded grant that included two other laboratories, Laboratory Alliance of Syracuse, and CENTREX Laboratories of Utica.

For more information about the clinical laboratory licensing program, contact Vicki Roberts at (585) 276-3688.

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