Labs Are Vital™ Program Targets Science-Minded Students Through Facebook Social Media Network
Social media strategy addresses severe labor shortage in the clinical laboratory profession
* Labs are Vital™Labs Are Vital™ launched a Facebook group and student-focused Web site, www.LabScienceCareers.com, to inform students about career opportunities in clinical lab sciences.
* As part of the Facebook social media initiative, high school and college students can compete to win scholarships valued at up to $2,500 by submitting a video, advertisement, or T-shirt design that encourages others to consider careers in laboratory medicine.
* Labs Are Vital™ is a multi-pronged, multi-year education and awareness program sponsored by Abbott that is designed to highlight the critical role laboratory professionals play in healthcare and to address the issues facing laboratories today.
* Recruiting the next generation of laboratory professionals is one of the many goals of the Labs Are Vital program, due to the workforce shortage of laboratory professionals in the field.
* Clinical laboratory professionals play a leading role in monitoring health, diagnosing diseases, and assessing the treatment of patients.
* Visit www.LabScienceCareers.com for complete contest details.
In an effort to attract young people to the clinical laboratory profession, Labs Are Vital™, a program sponsored by Abbott, has tapped into Facebook, a popular social networking Web site, to reach out to more than four million students with an interest in life sciences.
Facebook is an online network that connects young people with friends and other peers who work, study and live around them, and is being used as a tool to educate high school and college students about career opportunities in the clinical laboratory science profession. A Facebook page, sponsored by Labs Are Vital, will enable interested, career-minded high school and college students to meet clinical lab science students or recent graduates and learn about the benefits and challenges of the profession from their peers. Recruitment is one of many goals of the Labs Are Vital program. Others include improving the visibility of the clinical lab and demonstrating the value of the lab to the greater healthcare community. Abbott has been joined by many of the most influential and professional organizations in the clinical lab, who share these goals, including: CLMA, American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), American Medical Technologists (AMT), American Association of Bioanalysts (ABB), American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), and the AABB.
According to statistics compiled by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), there currently may be as many as 40,000 unfilled clinical laboratory jobs in the United States. The shortage of clinical lab scientists is a serious problem, and the stakes are high. According to U.S. Department of Labor projections, approximately 13,800 medical laboratory professionals will be needed every year through 2012 to fill vacant positions. Unfortunately, fewer than 5,000 professionals are graduating from educational programs each year.
Clinical laboratory professionals play a leading role in monitoring health, diagnosing diseases, and assessing the treatment of patients. More than 70 percent of the objective information used to make diagnostic decisions is derived from the clinical lab. This tremendous contribution comes at a great value: most clinical labs take up less than 5 percent of a hospital’s operating budget.
Online Scholarship Contest and Other Recruitment Programs
As part of the Facebook initiative, the Labs Are Vital collaboration is also offering an online scholarship contest for college and high school students. Abbott is joined in this effort by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (ASCLS), the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), and Blood Systems, Inc.
Contest entrants must submit a video, advertisement, or T-shirt design that encourages others to consider careers in laboratory medicine. Submissions selected for the semifinalist category will be available to view online where Facebook members will vote on those that most creatively illustrate why clinical lab science is cutting-edge and how laboratorians make a difference.
Other recruitment activities include the launch of a student-focused Web site, www.LabScienceCareers.com, where students can find information on career opportunities and educational programs in clinical lab sciences.
“Social media have been used successfully by Fortune 500 companies in highly targeted recruitment efforts, and we think it’s an innovative way to address the labor shortage we’re facing in the clinical laboratory sciences. ”The primary benefit of Facebook is the peerto-peer outreach that puts clinical lab science students and professionals in contact with students who may not be aware of the exciting career opportunities in clinical labs, public health labs, and transfusion medicine"
“One of the most critical components to improving some of the problems that face the clinical lab sciences is a broad communications effort initiated by Labs Are Vital to ensure current and future generations understand the importance of the work lab professionals do everyday and consider entering into the profession.”
Paula Garrott is the Interim Director of the Natural Science Division and Chair and Associate Professor Emerita of the Clinical Laboratory Science Department at the University of Illinois at Springfield. In addition she is a partner in a laboratory consulting firm, The Laboratory Consultants, Inc. of Illinois.
She received a B.S. in Biology/Medical Technology from Millikin University and a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Paula has been active in ASCLS and ASCLS-Illinois for over 30 years. She served as President of ASCLS in 2002-03 and currently is Chair of the ASCLS Government Affairs Committee.
She is a former member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Clinical Laboratory Improvement Advisory Committee, and is currently a Member of the Board of Directors of the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences and is the Chair of the Coordinating Council on the Clinical Laboratory Workforce.
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