It’s no secret that we’re big fans of technical education and the skilled trades here at PMG. If you follow us on social media you’ve definitely heard about the skills gap too. But did you know that tech schools and community colleges around America produce more highly skilled workers than just welders and machinists?
Occupations like paralegals, cosmetologists, morticians, and nurses are also considered technical trades. Another occupation requiring technical education that people overlook, but incredibly in demand nationwide, is Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLTs). If you haven’t heard yet, PMG is now hiring Medical Lab Techs!
What is a Medical Lab Tech and what do they do?
MLTs require an associate’s degree. They collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances for medical purposes. Their duties include operating a wide range of sophisticated lab equipment such as microscopes and cell counters. Essentially, if doctors and nurses are the James Bonds of the medical world, medical lab workers are Q. They’re the ones using the most advanced equipment and procedures to do the behind-the-scenes things that find problems and create solutions.
Why are Medical Lab Techs so hard to hire?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that demand for medical lab techs is expected to grow to 7% by the end of this decade. That’s faster than the average rate for all occupations (when measuring as a group total) and roughly twice the rate for most when comparing job to job. In layman’s terms, this means that the need for lab techs is currently very high and experts project it to continue to grow. There are three main factors which cause this.
Decrease in Programs
The shortage in personnel for medical labs has been a growing problem across America for decades. Despite that fact, there has also been a steady nationwide decrease in MLT training programs during that same time.
For example, in the year 2000, there were 248 MLT programs in the US. By 2017, there were 244. Looking at a wider timespan, there has been a total decrease in the number of accredited training programs of nearly 25 percent between 1990 and 2018.
Why would institutions cut programs for such in-demand occupations? For the same reason we’ve seen other technical education programs deemphasized in the skills gap era; they’re expensive to offer and relatively underpromoted at the middle and high school levels.
Another factor contributing to shortages is the fact that workers are retiring faster than they can be replaced. This is not unique to the healthcare industry, but it means hospitals and clinics are feeling the skills gap just as acutely as their counterparts in manufacturing, construction, and agriculture. According to a 2016-2017 American Society for Clinical Pathology survey on laboratory vacancies, the average expected retirement rate for all departments was 19% within five years and an alarming 41% of respondents expected their lab director to retire in the same time frame. The increase in testing demands brought about by the COVID19 pandemic has greatly exacerbated this numbers-crunch in the last 18 months too.
Over the last couple decades, there have been many new developments in diagnostic technology. These have led to great improvements in many things including preventive screening. These advancements promote faster detection and results. That’s great for patients, but it also means that certain workers need to possess new knowledge and skillsets that weren’t necessary in the past.
For example, tests utilizing more specialized areas of testing are very common today. However, this is something that individuals who trained 20 or 30 years ago didn’t learn much, if anything, about. When institutions are unable to find employees capable of handling these kinds of new procedures, the employees currently on staff often end up working longer hours and/or having an expanded range of duties. These expanded duties and cross-training might make staff feel more valued, but they can also dilute in-depth core knowledge, limit specialization, and lead to burnout. All these factors just add increased strain to an already stretched lab staff. In essence, the added pressure to rise to the occasion can be a burden for employees, who are already spread thin and could negatively affect the lab’s efficiency.
Why would an MLT work for PMG?
For the same reasons our other skilled technicians work for us! PMG’s Traveling Medical Laboratory Technicians get to:
- Go where the work is, allowing them to see America
- Help the communities and healthcare facilities most in need of their assistance
- Grow their skills and experience more quickly than is possible in a more static work environment
- Earn top dollar for their work
If you’re a Medical Laboratory Technician and you’d like to grow your career by going where you’re needed most, please send your resume to Recruiter@pmgservices.com and we’ll be happy to talk to you.
If you’re in charge of staffing for a hospital, clinic, or lab and your people are feeling stretched thin, connect with our Client Solutions Team here.
About the Author
Josh Erickson, ReTool Public Relations & Engagement Specialist