Skill shortage.

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You may be interested to learn that in the UK we are having severe 
recruitment and retention problems in pathology - JUST LIKE YOU.

We have, briefly, an all graduate (hons. at that) entry.  Next comes 
admission to the State Register as fit to practice.
We have grades, called medical laboratory  scientific officers (and 
more recently biomedical scientists).  We do not differentiate 
between those working in, for example, hematology and 

The starting salary is below that of a supermarket shelf filler.  There 
are promotion grades through:
Basic (grade 1)
grade 2
grade 3
grade 4
with the possibility of three aditional points, i.e. *, **, *** in the 
higher grades.

Very many grade 4 posts have been abolished in money saving 
schemes.  There is thus a career problem with many fewer top 
posts to aim for.
There is little financial incentive to relocate.

Some years ago, in order to overcome staff shortages and in 
recognition of increased automation, the position of "medical 
laboratory assistant" was created.  There are lots of them now!!!

Trainees ideally go on to earn a taught master's degree which 
includes a substantial practical (research) project.

We believe they are highly educated and skilled personel.

The outcome of low salaries and low moral is that we are able only 
to recruit students from the bottom of the class (there are many 
more rewarding and better paid jobs for those with the Hons degree 
in Biomedical Science), giving a less skilled workforce and 
depressing moral even lower.

Those that do enter the profession leave in droves after a year or 
so.  They presumably have enhanced their cv with some practical 
experience and are off to better paid employment.

Many of those at the top of the profession were recruited in the 
massive expansion years for pathology in the late fifties/early 
sixties.  They are now retiring - early if they get the opportunity.  
They are often given that in a further attempt to lower the salary bill.

We recently achieved front page newspaper and TV coverage for 
our publicly announced concerns for the safety of the service.

It looks as though it will make little difference and the predicted 
disasters may start to happen.  Our survey (us being the 
professional body) has revealed a profession in despair and using 
all sorts of quick fixes and expediency to keep the service running.

Many of us believe it will crack horribly at some stage unless 
drastic, significant short and long term action is taken.

The headlines of a few weeks ago will seem like page three fillers 

So you are not alone in the US; the problems - the same problems -
 are happening elsewhere.

When you find the solution, let us know.  We will do the same.

Russ Allison, 
Dental School

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