Pathology and laboratory medicine organizations address future workforce issues

Feb. 6, 2014

Leading organizations representing pathology and laboratory medicine have released a joint statement “Workforce Issues Affecting Pathology and Laboratory Medicine,” illustrating key issues facing pathology and laboratory medicine under today’s healthcare system and outlining recommendations to help pathologists best meet patient needs in the future. The report is the outcome of the December 2013 Pathology Workforce Summit, which convened representatives from 24 professional pathology and laboratory medicine organizations and was sponsored by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the Association of Pathology Chairs (APC), and the United States & Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP).

Attendees identified five emerging issues that will impact the pathology work force: a decreased supply of pathologists and laboratory professionals; changes in the demand for pathology services; new factors requiring creative reconsideration of the nature of recruitment and training and advocacy for adequate resources; the need for workforce projections to account for all members of the laboratory team; and access to education and training opportunities.

Participants agreed on three key strategies to address future workforce issues: (1) reassessing what every pathologist needs to know and identifying new ways to ensure that adequate numbers of pathologists acquire both general skills and sub-specialized expertise, especially in key emerging areas; (2) organizing pathology to attract and recruit highly qualified medical and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students into pathology and laboratory professions; and, (3) reevaluating long-term training expectations to propagate an outlook of lifelong learning to maintain or enhance career opportunities and applicability to current healthcare delivery systems and payment models.

CAP President Gene N. Herbek, MD, FCAP, comments, “The CAP believes action is needed now to help the pathology and laboratory communities meet the needs of our healthcare system and our patients’ needs in the future.” Read the statement.

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