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Someone to Run the Tests

The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated staffing shortages at clinical labs, the Wall Street Journal reports

Lab technologists at clinical labs have had to work overtime to process and analyze COVID-19 tests quickly, but as the pandemic has worn on, there's increasing risk of burnout, it says. David Grenache, the chief scientific officer at TriCore Reference Laboratories and president of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, tells the Journal that recruiting additional lab technologists is not necessarily simple. Lab technologists have particular skill sets that the Journal notes don't alway transfer easily from other fields and, in states like New York and California, need a license. In addition, the field is hampered by an aging workforce, low awareness, and low pay.

"We don't have a lot of backfill in expertise," Rodney Rohde from Texas State University tells it. "You can't just grab someone and train them up."

Instead, the Journal reports that labs are bringing in traveling staff, more flexible schedules, and automation when possible to prevent such burnout while keeping turnaround times short.

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