State Faces Medical Technician Shortage
Technician shortages at hospitals likely will grow worse unless training programs are expanded and more people are encouraged to enter fields such as respiratory therapy, pharmacy and clinical laboratory sciences, hospital officials say, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Vacancy rates for technician positions in Southern California range from 4.9% for clinical laboratory scientists to as much as 11% for physical therapists, according to a survey by the Hospital Association of Southern California.
California is expected to need 13,100 respiratory therapists by 2012 -- an increase of 3,700 jobs compared with earlier estimates -- in addition to 3,100 workers to replace those who leave the profession.
The technician shortage can be attributed to the same factors causing a nurse shortage in the state: an aging population that needs more medical care, an aging workforce and a lack of funding and faculty for training programs, according to Susan Chapman, director of allied health work force studies at the University of California-San Francisco Center for the Health Professions.
The hospital industry is planning an educational campaign to encourage more people to enter fields where there are shortages. So far, hospitals have been able to use overtime and temporary workers to cover shortages, but hospital officials are concerned that patient care will be affected if the shortage worsens (Beeman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/22).