The Hidden Crisis in the Times of COVID-19: Critical Shortages of Medical Laboratory Professionals in Clinical Microbiology


The COVID pandemic has put a spotlight on laboratory medicine,
showcasing how vital diagnostic testing is for society and the health care system.
It has also brought to light and accelerated the critical shortage of trained
and experienced laboratory personnel that has been felt for decades. The need
for laboratory professionals is expected to grow by 11% between 2020 and 2030,
a higher rate of growth than the overall average for all other health care occupations.
Here, the background to this workforce shortage is reviewed. Some proposed
actions to help address the issue are put forth, including increasing
awareness of the medical laboratory science profession along with bolstering
training opportunities and awareness of alternate routes to obtaining certification
as a medical laboratory scientist. In addition, recent survey data specifically
related to the employee shortages in microbiology are presented which demonstrate
that 80% of microbiology laboratories have vacant positions and that filling
these positions is challenging for a number of reasons, including a lack of
qualified applicants.