News Release

Published on Friday, April 13, 2007

From April 22-28, Western Technical College is joining the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science in celebrating the approximately 300,000 medical lab professionals and 15,000 board certified pathologists in the United States who play a vital role in health care.

Although they are the “hidden workers” in health care, laboratory professionals have the skills to unlock important medical information that is pivotal to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Every day, nurses, physicians, and other medical workers depend on laboratory professionals to perform tests on body fluids, interpret the results, and help provide a complete picture of a patient’s health. Using modern biomedical equipment and complicated analysis, laboratorians can detect the presence of cancer, identify infectious viruses and bacteria, and measure glucose, cholesterol, or drug levels in blood. Without this precise and valuable information, medicine would simply become guesswork.

Laboratory professionals often work in hospitals, physician offices, or private clinical laboratories, performing laboratory tests and monitoring the quality of their results. Others are employed by university or industrial research laboratories to seek solutions for medicine’s many unanswered questions.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the period of 2002 through 2010, 12,400 graduates will be needed annually to staff the nation’s clinical laboratories equaling 120,000 new technicians and technologists. Nationwide, less than half that number are graduating. Western Clinical Laboratory Technician program graduates who are seeking employment, typically have 100 percent placement rates. Often students are offered jobs even before they graduate.

“Due to the retiring Baby Boomer generation, we are facing a critical shortage of laboratory professionals,” said Carolyn Byom, program head for the Clinical Lab Tech program at Western. “This week is a great time to raise aware of this shortage so people consider this as a career option.”

National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (NMLPW) began in 1975 under the auspices of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (then the American Society for Medical Technology). Now, numerous organizations participate in the event as co-sponsors and campaign supporters.

For more information on NMLPW, visit the Web site ascls.org. For details on Western Technical College programs and services, call 608.785.9200 or visit the Web site at westerntc.edu.

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