Using Data to Make the Case for a Lab’s Needs

By Susan Montgomery - September 07, 2021

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Data-driven decisions are an integral part of running a business, from sales and marketing to hiring levels and determining salaries. However, there are plenty of occasions when a survey report with robust data ends up on a shelf, forgotten.

Aaron Odegard, MS, MLS(ASCP)CMSMCM, wants to change that. As Chair of ASCP’s Council of Laboratory Professionals, he has spent the past year encouraging colleagues and other ASCP members to actively make use of the ASCP resources and other tools that are available in order to successfully advocate for their laboratory’s needs.

“Recently, I spoke with a colleague at another nearby hospital that is seeking to start a medical technologist program,” he says. The colleague asked if he had any data or other information to help her justify a program. He told her about the ASCP Wage Survey report and the recently released study, Clinical Laboratory Workforce: Understanding the Challenges to Meeting Current and Future Needs, conducted by ASCP and the University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies.

Meanwhile, he has also used both reports for an article he wrote that was published in Clinical Laboratory Management magazine. The article focused on the importance of having clinical internship sites to strengthen the workforce, a common concern among education coordinators. In his article, he strongly encouraged colleagues to use the ASCP data that is available to present their case to health system decision makers.

“Right now, the COVID-19 pandemic has focused a lot of attention on the work of the laboratory,” Mr. Odegard says. “So we have the c-suite’s ear. With the data we have collected, we can make a case to the C-suite decision makers what we need for our laboratories, whether it’s more staff, more equipment, higher salaries, etcetera. We have to make the data work for the lab.”

Recently, Mr. Odegard assisted a laboratory in a for-profit Nashville-area hospital. “The hospital had done a wage increase and market analysis for all other departments, but not the laboratory,” he says. “An ASCP member reached out to me through LinkedIn and asked for assistance. I sent the ASCP Wage Survey report and other ASCP materials and connected him with Jeff Jacobs [ASCP Chief Officer for Science, Technology and Policy] who also pulled together a lot of essential data to assist this individual. Eventually, this ASCP member got his request approved for more equipment, a market analysis for laboratory wage increases, and other benefits through strong advocacy backed by a foundation of strong data.”

Mr. Odegard’s efforts to promote ASCP’s robust resources has not gone unnoticed.

“Aaron has been our ally, especially with our efforts to let others know about ASCP’s workforce initiatives,” says Edna Garcia, MPH, ASCP Director of Scientific Engagement. “He is very passionate about the field and he really wants to help us elevate its visibility so that we can all achieve our goals and address the laboratory’s needs.”  

Ms. Garcia notes that ASCP’s recent clinical laboratory workforce study is garnering significant national attention. “More people are hearing about it and are using it to get the ear of the C-suite and to craft initiatives for recruitment,” she says. “So it’s an important research tool that can be used to take action.”

Susan Montgomery

ASCP communications writer