Growing our own: teaching and doing research in CLS.Clin Lab Sci. 2010 Summer; 23(3 Suppl):3-11-8.CL
The shortage of clinical laboratory scientists (CLS) has been well-documented in the healthcare environment. This growing concern only becomes more critical as we enter the retiring baby boomer era in our society. Concomitantly, the problem of addressing how university CLS programs recruit and retain faculty to teach and satisfy research agendas is not being studied. These two problems, if allowed to collide, will provide a "perfect storm" with serious implications for an ongoing shortage of personnel and overall quality for the profession. CLS faculty, in the university setting, must typically satisfy the three tenets for tenure and promotion - teaching, scholarship, and service. While teaching and service will always be critical, scholarship (research) is an area of expertise that must be "taught" and mentored for future CLS faculty to be successful in the very real arena of "publish or perish". This article provides a commentary with specific details associated with our experience in offering an evolving dedicated CLS clinical research course to purposively "grow our own" students in the art of conducting successful research. It offers a flexible template for adapting or incorporating a lecture and laboratory course to address theoretical and practical knowledge in the realm of clinical research. Additionally, a discussion of other research mentoring activities in our program will be outlined. The long term goal (and hope) of these program objectives is to build a culture of research for current faculty and for CLS graduates. This paper provides an approach to embedding these research ideals in all CLS graduates and, importantly, an intentional attempt to create a mindset for a possible career as a future CLS faculty member who can be successful in both the university and clinical environment.