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MTs needed: sunny clime, ocean view.

Governor Dukakis, Vice President Bush, and laboratory managers are trying hard to find support in California. While the two Presidential hopefuls look for voters, lab managers there are seeking medical technologists.

I'd like to share with you some interesting figures that recently became available on the medical technologist shortage in California, a state with one of the largest contingents of MTs. In the July issue of CAMLT/Newsline, published by the California Association for Medical Laboratory Technology, a report indicated that as many as 3,187 MT jobs may be currently open, for a 17 .3 percent vacancy rate.

That's the result of comparing total full- and. part-time positions for licensed personnel with a conservative estimate of the number of state-licensed technologists in the job market. In another computation-using positions for licensed full-time equivalents and a higher estimate of the available number of licensees-the shortage drops to 600-plus FTEs; the vacancy rate to 3 .8 percent.

Either way, the good news for medical technologists is that there are jobs, according to William N. Bigler, Ph.D., director of the Center for Advanced Medical Technology, San Francisco State University, and the other authors of the report. They add that the same information is bad news for patients and laboratory managers because the quality of test data declines if laboratories are not adequately staffed with well-qualified personnel.

And, they expect, the bad news will get worse. In 1986 and 1987, California issued 911 new licenses while non-renewals totaled 3,665, for a net drop of more than 2,700 licensees. An April 1988 survey conducted by Bigler et al among a random sample of statelicensed MTs indicates that 29 per cent or 5,600 of California's licensed medical technologists have studied for alternative careers since becoming licensed. "These people could be the next wave of non-renewals, which could create a more severe shortage of clinical laboratory personnel," the authors state.

"In 1988, there are already data that the shortage will get worse," they add. The 1988 licensure exam had only 67 examinees who trained in California, a 24 per cent drop from a year earlier. Fifty-nine of the California-trained examinees obtained licenses this year, down 26 per cent from 1987 "The shortage of MTs in California will not be offset by an influx from other states because there is declining MT education throughout the country," the report states.

Seven per cent of the MTs surveyed by the authors were unemployed, but in no case because of inability to find an MT position. Rather, the reasons included retirement, family responsibilities, and full-time study.

"A surprising 31 percent of all licensed MTs reported that they are not in positions that require a license," the authors said. Besides unemployment, these respondents mentioned such circumstances as promotion, work in Federal clinical labs, and nonclinical laboratory jobs.

For employed MTs, the work locations were licensed labs (86 per cent), unlicensed clinical labs (5 per cent), non-clinical labs (5 percent), and non-laboratory sites (4 per cent). MT skills were not required for 9 per cent of the jobs. The ratio of full- to part-time workers was 67/33, and the permanent/temporary ratio was 98/2.

Overall, 18 to 21 per cent of licensed MTs were listed as "out of the job market"-neither working as MTs nor seeking MT jobs.

In summary, the authors say technologists in California can ask for more pay, expect more responsibilities, and consider job hopping. They add that good prospects should be encouraged to enter or reenter the profession.

Finally, they note"out-ofstate MTs should not hurry to California," because 1) a recently rigid approach to licensure exam eligibility could exclude more than 30 per cent of nationally certified technologists, and 2) technologists who trained in other states tend to come to California several years after that training and consequently have a 50 per cent failure rate on the licensure examination.
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Title Annotation:medical technologist jobs in California
Author:Fitzgibbon, Robert J.
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:editorial
Date:Sep 1, 1988
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