The University of Southern Mississippi Department of Medical Technology hopes to increase awareness about a profession currently experiencing considerable employment growth as part of National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week April 18-24.
Medical technologists, also referred to as medical laboratory scientists, serve as vital health care detectives who uncover and provide laboratory information from analyses that assist physicians in patient diagnosis and treatment. Clinical laboratory personnel examine and analyze body fluids and cells. They look for bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms; analyze the chemical content of fluids; match blood for transfusions and test for drug levels in the blood that show how a patient is responding to treatment.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of clinical laboratory workers is expected to grow by 14 percent between 2008 and 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. The volume of laboratory tests continues to increase with both population growth and the development of new types of tests.
Dr. Jane Hudson, chair of the Department of Medical Technology at Southern Miss, notes that in 2009 the program saw 100 percent job placement rate for graduates and a 100 percent pass rate on the American Society for Clinical Pathology examination.
“Medical technologists/medical laboratory scientists are responsible for providing test results that are used by the physician to make approximately 70 percent of the medical decisions,” said Hudson. “The shortage will only become more critical with 12,200 new laboratory professionals needed annually to meet the growing need of the world’s population, but only 4,000 to 6,000 graduates will join the workforce each year.”
Hospitals are traditionally the major employer of clinical laboratory workers. However, employment is expected to grow rapidly within medical and diagnostic laboratories, physicians’ offices and throughout the entire health care industry.
The following statistics clearly illustrate the impact the med-tech program at Southern Miss has made on South Mississippi:
• 83 percent of the medical technologist staff at Wesley Medical Center in Hattiesburg are Southern Miss graduates
• 77 percent of the staff at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg
• 68 percent of the staff at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport
• 50 percent of the staff at VA Medical Center in Biloxi
• 50 percent of the Tissue Typing Laboratory at University Medical Center in Jackson
• 43 percent of the staff at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula
“Our graduates are recruited heavily for South Alabama and South Louisiana also, thus our program truly serves the Gulf South,” said Hudson. “The only other programs in the Gulf South are LSU at New Orleans, the University of West Florida at Pensacola.”
Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, right, presents Anna Swann, an instructor in The University of Southern Mississippi’s Department of Medical Technology, with a proclamation recognizing April 18-24 as National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week. (Submitted photo)
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.