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Are all technologists alike?

Are all technologists alike?

A laboratory manager recently asked me if I knew of any laboratories that compensated staff technologists and section supervisors based on their particular duties and responsibilities rather than on seniority or shift. My answer was no, I did not.

The question made me wonder, however. Should that approach to laboratory salary levels be explored further? As technologies and methodologies change and traditional function areas in the laboratory become blurred, it may be time to look at pay for specific performance.

Management experts say a salary should fit the job, not the employee's qualifications. In the present laboratory system, a generic technologist job description is developed to cover all duties and responsibilities, and a single salary scale applies to all those who meet the technologist description.

But are all duties equal according to accepted criteria for establishing job classifications? If you were to perform a factor evaluation in your laboratory, how would it come out?

The usual job evaluation factors are:

Knowledge required by the position

Supervisory control



Scope and effect

Personal contacts

Purpose of contacts

Physical demands

Work environment

Assuming that each factor has several levels and varying point values that apply to each level, do you think all positions in the laboratory would add up to the same number of points? Would a generalist technologist receive more or fewer points than an automated chemistry technologist? Does the patient outcome of test results differ, so that blood bank technologists might have a higher point level on "scope and effect' than microbiology technologists?

These questions need to be explored, and present compensation systems should be studied further. It may no longer be appropriate to pay similar salaries (exclusive of seniority factors) both to technologists who stay entirely in one department and those who are cross-trained to work in several areas. And a job evaluation study may be in order when supervisors receive the same salary despite differences in the number of employees supervised, complexity or variety of test procedures, and degree of automation.

Hospitals are now developing competency-based performance appraisal systems with performance standards. The ultimate goal is a pay-for-performance or incentive compensation system.

An equitable incentive system would require "criticality factors' to designate the importance or weighting of each standard to the particular job performed. For example, would independent discretion and judgment rank as high for a technologist who runs automated equipment as for a technologist who performs compatibility testing? The principle of criticality levels for performance standards is similar to assigning points based on job evaluation factor levels.

This would not be an easy system to implement. But it is no harder than classifying the different jobs in a hospital. My experience says it is a new concept, but maybe some of you are already using it. How about sharing your thoughts with us? You may have a way to enhance job satisfaction while keeping operating expenses under control. Or a system that encourages generalists rather than specialists. And such a system may help us more accurately define management and supervisory roles.

If it is time to recognize different levels of practice in the laboratory and implement true incentive pay programs, then we should explore the possibility that all technologists are not alike unless they all do the same thing.
COPYRIGHT 1987 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Barros, Annamarie
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:column
Date:Dec 1, 1987
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