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What a consortium of MT educators can do.

What a consortium of MT educators can do

A large number of accomplishments, including national certification of phlebotomists and a media blitz promoting lab careers, belies the small size of this state association.

Our small band of medical laboratory educators has come a long way since forming a consortium in Indiana nearly six years ago. Just look at some of the things that followed: a statewide preference matching service bringing together most student applicants with the medical technology programs of their choice, recruitment of students for laboratory careers through advertising and publicity, mock registry exams to help students prepare for the real thing, continuing education seminars for faculty and coordinators of MT programs, and nationwide phlebotomy certification exams.

All of these efforts were goals of the Consortium of Indiana Medical Laboratory Educators from the outset. CIMLE grew out of a 1981 meeting of Indianapolisbased MT program directors who had worked together for a number of years. These directors had in the past jointly received grant money for production of educational videotapes and other purposes.

CIMLE was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in September 1982 after we elected officers and developed a constitution and bylaws. Incorporation simplified financial and legal matters; the group's structure also provided continuity and a central authority in the form of a decision-making board.

We started with 17 members (12 hospitals with MT programs, five individual allied health educators) and at present have 15 members (seven institutional, eight individual). The membership decline is attributable to the closing of four MT programs in recent years.

Annual membership fees, unchanged from the first year, are $325 for institutions participating in the student-MT school preference matching service, $150 for other institutions, and $25 for individuals. An individual membership does not carry voting privileges.

Most of the consortium's work is done by committees. To fulfill one of CIMLE's primary goals, the committee in charge of the preference matching service went to work immediately. Members gathered information about existing services in other states, investigated the feasibility of CIMLE itself operating the service versus contracting with another organization, drew up a protocol for the computer program, and presented the alternatives to consortium members.

Members voted to pay for a contractor-provided service and offer it at no charge to students. An Indianapolis health career organization did the matches for the first two years, but then we decided it would be more economical to perform them ourselves on a microcomputer.

Figure I shows student-MT school preference match statistics for the past six years. Eleven out of 16 hospital-based medical technology programs in the state participated in the matching service in 1983, six out of 12 in 1988. Student applicants for our MT programs primarily come from college affiliates in Indiana and other parts of the Midwest.

Some hospitals attract enough student applicants from a local pool and do not benefit from a statewide matching service. A hospital in Gary, for example, will draw many applicants from the nearby Chicago area.

The number of qualified student applicants has shrunk in recent years, leading to a decline in the number of MT programs and in positions available. In 1983, 139 applicants sought 105 slots, while in 1988, only 50 applicants sought 48 slots. The proportion of applicants placed peaked in 1987 and 1988--at levels of 78 and 74 per cent, respectively-but the proportion of programs filled hit a low of 29 percent in 1987.

One thing hasn't fluctuated much from year to year. Consistently, 75 to 80 per cent of the students placed through the preference matches have landed a position at the school of their first choice.

The shortage of laboratory personnel and qualified students interested in laboratory careers recently spurred CIMLE to conduct a regional survey of clinical education and employment needs as perceived by employers. We are also intensifying recruitment efforts.

This year, we launched a $3,000 media blitz promoting the laboratory profession with CIMLE funds and donations from labs and other employers in the state, university-based allied health programs, professional societies, and diagnostic manufacturers. A marketing firm helped us produce television and radio spots, print ads, and an information packet. The blitz tied in with National Medical Laboratory Week and the annual meeting of the Indiana Society for Medical Technology (ISMT) in April. It will pick up again in the fall when we promote blood typing in conjunction with Halloween.

A committee was organized at the inception of CIMLE to develop and maintain a recruitment brochure for distribution to high school students and their parents. This brochure asks several questions to help the student determine whether he or she should enter the clinical laboratory science field: for example "Do you enjoy solving a problem?" and "Do you respond positively to the needs of others?"

The brochure outlines the kinds of tests performed in the laboratory, the educational prerequisites for enrollment in medical technologist and medical laboratory technician programs, the institutions offering MT and MLT programs and their college and university affiliates, application deadlines, tuition fees, and typical lab schedules and salaries.

CIMLE and ISMT funded production of the brochure. Hospitals and academic institutions are charged a nominal fee for bulk quantities, and they can also obtain a recruitment videotape from CIMLE. In addition, the consortium's members furnish colleges and universities with speakers for campus recruitment events and allied health symposiums.

To promote research in medical laboratory science by preclinical students, CIMLE has established an annual awards program. Winners receive $250.

A CIMLE precertification exam committee devised and administers a mock registry test at no charge to MT and MLT students. They can take the test at the state medical technology society's annual meeting or at their institutions. They thus discover how well they are doing in their training and what kinds of questions they can anticipate on certification exams. Similarly, educators learn how effective their programs are. Statistics on exam scores are compiled and made available to all participants.

As for job placement activities, we are developing a newsletter with information about graduating MT and MLT students seeking laboratory positions and laboratories seeking personnel.

Another of our committees developed a series of continuing education programs for clinical instructors and education coordinators. Its first venture, cosponsored with the continuing education department of a CIMLEmember hospital, was a daylong seminar on "Teaching in the Lab: Clinical Instruction Techniques." This was presented at a number of institutions around the state. Other seminars have dealt with such subjects as MT program finances and personnel problems.

The college relations committee was formed to facilitate communication between CIMLE's member hospitals and their 25 affiliated academic institutions. The committee initiated an annual meeting where the two groups can discuss issues of mutual concern. Such talks led to the team teaching of a medical technology course on one campus (faculty from different hospitalbased programs take tums delivering lectures and exams) and a university-sponsored continuing education workshop for allied health educators.

One of CIMLE's original aims, to provide a mechanism for upgrading the quasity of phlebotomy training in Indiana, resulted in establishment of the Phlebotomy Certification Board in September 1983. The board widened the area of coverage by offering a national competency-based examination-100 questions on theory, background, and technique--for certification of a phlebotomy technician as a CPT(CIMLE). Through 1987, the board had certified nearly 1,000 examinees (see Figure II) .

Looking ahead, the consortium has further goals on three fronts:

* Economic. We will seek to expand our membership, try to secure grants for special educational programs on a state and national basis, and investigate the possibility of obtaining alternate funding for MT and MLT education.

* Organizational. We plan to provide official CIMLE representation at national as well as state and local professional meetings. The purpose would be to present CIMLE's position on issues that affect our members.

* Marketing. We want to produce or acquire audiovisual material and conduct an ongoing media campaign promoting the profession of clinical laboratory science. We will work to enhance the image of medical technology in other ways as a means of expanding the employment base.
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Title Annotation:medical technology
Author:Voland, Sally A.; Oliver, Cheryl J.
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Date:Jun 1, 1988
Words:1340
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