James Hollowell, ASCLS Developing Professionals Forum Vice Chair

University of Louisiana-Monroe MLS graduate Jennifer Nguyen at the Spring Into Health event in Monroe, LA. Students used “glitter bug” solution and UV lights to show kids how dirty their hands can get and taught proper hand washing technique.

Recruitment events bring visibility to our field and are a vital part of ensuring a strong future for laboratory professionals. Now that the nation faces a widespread shortage of laboratory staff, it is critical we attract new students to fortify our numbers. Many people are unaware of the work that goes on in the laboratory or how they could become a member of the healthcare team behind the scenes.

Our MLS program here at the University of Louisiana-Monroe views recruitment events as a top priority and sends students and staff to various schools and public health fairs across the state as frequently as possible. The students alone participate in an average of 20 recruitment events per year as a part of professional development activities during their second year of the program. We love to speak to local high school science classes, community college classes, and, frequently, give presentations at our university.

A method of recruitment that we’ve found to be particularly effective is non-biohazardous case studies. It’s something interactive that shows students the kind of work we do in the laboratory and is a fun way to get new people interested in the profession. Even something as simple as a short PowerPoint presentation can be enough to introduce new people to our field and drum up interest in the laboratory. We have seen a massive increase in the number of students applying to our program. It is so easy to reach out to local schools, and they are usually very accommodating and excited to hear from us.

I believe there are so many people out there who would love the laboratory if they just knew all the things we do. Members of this Society should strive to find students interested in the health field or that love science and show them how they can make a career out of the combination of the two!

James Hollowell is a student in the Medical Laboratory Science Program at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.