Issue Paper

The Clinical Laboratory Workforce Shortage
White Paper and Other Resources Developed by the Healthcare Laboratory Workforce Initiative

Five years ago the Hospital Council, in conjunction with the California Hospital Association (CHA), launched the Healthcare Laboratory Workforce Initiative (HLWI) to find innovative solutions to the critical laboratory workforce shortage in California. The initiative was in response to hospital staffing needs and the temporary closure of an important Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) education program in Northern California.

The HLWI statewide advisory group was established as a result of the initiative to identify and analyze the barriers to increasing the supply of clinical laboratory science workers and implement solutions. Members of the HLWI advisory group include hospital laboratory directors from a diverse cross-section of CHA member hospitals and health systems, as well as representatives from stakeholder groups such as laboratory manufacturers, independent laboratories, professional associations, government entities, and the California community college and state university systems. The HLWI advisory group is co-chaired by Dr. Tim Hamill, Director, UCSF Clinical Laboratories and Sue Foltz, Senior Account Executive, Abbott Diagnostics.

The HLWI advisory group develops and implements strategies in these priority areas:

• Building the educational capacity of California’s Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) and Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) training programs;
• Increasing the number of and support for hospitals to become clinical training sites;
• Promoting the laboratory profession; and
• Speaking with one voice on the issues that influence the regulatory environment in which laboratories operate.

In 2008, the HLWI issued a white paper titled, “California’s Other Healthcare Crisis: The Clinical Laboratory Workforce Shortage.”  The document is attached below.

The HLWI also played a lead role in the implementation of licensure for MLTs in California and then created a MLT “tool kit” for hospitals. The tool kit includes a document providing answers to frequently asked questions about MLTs, gives hospitals resources for more information, and provides a sample MLT job description. A copy of the MLT Frequently Asked Questions document and the sample job description are also attached below.

For more information about the HLWI, please contact Rebecca Rozen, Regional Vice President
Hospital Council, East Bay Section, (925) 746-1550 or at