To determine whether generic skills that dinical laboratory scientists (CLSs)/medical technologists (MTs) learned as students and/or practitioners are applied to jobs outside the field of CLS/MT; and to determine if there are any significant differences in learning and/or doing these skills by CLS/MT majors vs. non-CLS/MT majors.
An Occupational Change Survey was sent to CLS/MT practitioners who had identified themselves as having left the field (LTF) of CLS/MT. The participants were asked whether or not they were CLS/MT majors as undergraduates, whether they utilized generic baccalaureate level skills in their LTF jobs, and whether or not they learned these skills as CLS/MT students and/or practitioners. The skills were: problem solving, decision making, troubleshooting, analytical reasoning, data correlation, precision studies, quality assessment, teaching, research, communication, technical writing, computer use, utilization review, and supervision.
The survey was sent to 105 participants of an ongoing longitudinal study who identified themselves as having LTF.
Responses for doing/utilizing the skills were grouped as 'Yes' if participants indicated they frequently or sometimes used the skills in their LTF jobs, and 'No' if they indicated they rarely or never used the skills in their LTF jobs. Responses for learning the skills were grouped as 'Yes' if participant indicated they learned the skills as CLS/MT students, practitioners or both and 'No' if they indicated they never learned the skills as CLS/MT students, practitioners, or both. Participants indicated whether or not they were CLS/MT majors in college. Chi square analyses were performed to test for any statistical significant (p = 0.05) differences between: doing and learning the skills, doing the skills and being a CLS/MT major, and learning the skills and being a CLS/MT major.
The response rate for the survey was 48% (50/103). Chi square analyses could not be performed for doing the skills in the LTF jobs for three variables: problem solving, analytical reasoning, and computer use because all respondents reported that they used these skills. Chi square analyses indicated there were no significant differences between doing and learning the skills in the LTF job for the entire sample group for all remaining skills except supervision. There were no significant differences between doing the skills in the LTF job and being a CLS/MT major. A statistically significant difference in learning the skills was observed between CLS/MT majors and non-CLS/MT majors for the following skills: problem solving, correlating data, precision studies, research, analytical reasoning, and troubleshooting. The 'Yes' answer frequencies for learning the skills was higher for the CLS/ MT majors for all the generic skills except teaching, where they were equal, and utilization studies where they were lower.
The results indicate that, in general, for this sample group, generic skills learned as CLS/MT students and/or practitioners can be and are applied to a wide variety of LTF jobs. Furthermore, CLS/MT majors learned the generic skills at least as well, if not better, than other baccalaureate level laboratory practitioners who obtained degrees in other areas.