If you’ve ever had a blood test, you can thank a medical laboratory professional for its accuracy and timeliness. National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, April 24–30, helps promote understanding and appreciation of laboratory personnel. Quality laboratory results can lead to a healthier life—an estimated 70% of treatment decisions are based on medical laboratory testing.
There are approximately 300,000 practitioners of clinical laboratory science in the United States. Since the development of this career group in the 1920s, the clinical laboratory science professional has played an increasingly vital role in the diagnosis and prevention of disease. Today, the clinical laboratorian is a key member of a healthcare team.
Yet the United States is expected to witness a severe shortage of qualified laboratory professionals—a trend that is anticipated to have a major impact on the general laboratory industry. More than 17% of laboratory professionals are set to retire in the next five years. Coupled with the rising aging population, it creates an increased demand for laboratory automation. However, laboratory automation requires huge investments and more maintenance, which is hindering growth of the market. At a compound annual growth rate of 7.5%, the global laboratory accessories market is expected to reach $504.7 million by 2020 (Source: General Laboratory Equipment: Global Markets).
Single-use technology has become the key factor in the growth of the bioprocess industry. And, single-use technology requires an increased number of trained professionals, as the use of disposables is increasing in all applications. However, the technical expertise needed to employ single-use technologies effectively is lacking. This issue is particularly evident in emerging economies, resulting in a small market share for disposables. One solution to this problem is to use hybrid systems, which are a mix of traditional and single-use systems, and train staff members so that they can use the technology more effectively. Because single-use technologies require validation of equipment, companies in developing economies are training their workforces to perform the validation process in pharmaceutical operations.
Medical laboratory scientists are in high demand, and government economists expect job growth for medical scientists to be much faster than the average for all careers through 2020. National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week has been successful in increasing the recognition of clinical laboratory science among the healthcare community and general public. Medical laboratory testing is the foundation of quality patient care and an invaluable tool for doctors and informed patients alike.