On June 16, 2000, representatives from twelve (12) different laboratory organizations and two (2) government agencies met in Chicago to participate in the first Summit on the "Shortage of Clinical Laboratory Personnel," sponsored by the Education Scientific Assembly of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS). Participating organizations included:
- American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science
- American Society for Microbiology
- American Association of Bioanlysts
- National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
- American Association of Clinical Chemistry
- Clinical Laboratory Management Association
- American Society for Clinical Pathologists-Associate Member Section
- American Society for Clinical Pathologists-Board of Registry
This shortage was not late in development. Articles appeared from 1987 to 1989, stating the shortage even then. In the past 12 years, however, the shortage has worsened, with few solutions identified to alleviate the situation. Most recently the Laboratory Industry Report (May, 2000) documented the current situation in a five-page report concerning " A Bad Situation That Is Getting Worse."
In initiating discussion of the complex problem, the groups confirmed the latest vacancy data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which estimates a 17 percent growth rate in the laboratory field, as compared with a 14.4 percent growth rate for all U.S. jobs. The BLS data also estimates the actual vacancy rate for lab positions in 1998 at between 9 percent and 20 percent, compared to 5 percent-13 percent in 1988.
For the period 1998-2008 the BLS projects 53,000 new jobs in the field, 40,000 vacancies (created by retirement, leaving the field, etc.), and 93,000 incremental positions to be filled at 9,000 per year. Available to fill those positions will be a 1999 NAACLS estimate of 4,990 students graduating from all the profession’s schools.