April 27, 2005 - Laboratory Workforce Legislation

The Honorable John M. Shimkus
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Shimkus:

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) would like to thank you for your leadership in introducing H.R. 1175, the Medical Laboratory Personnel Shortage Act of 2005. The downward trend in individuals pursuing medical laboratory careers is of great concern to the ASM, the largest single life science society representing approximately 43,000 members.

Clinical laboratory personnel play a critical role in the diagnosis and treatment of individuals suffering from infectious and chronic diseases. The ASM is particularly concerned about the impact the laboratory workforce shortage will have on the availability of laboratory scientists with knowledge and expertise to detect emerging infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistant pathogens, and possible agents of bioterrorism. Many tests performed in the clinical microbiology laboratory are not automated and require personnel with sufficient training and experience.

ASM appreciates the legislation’s focus on recruiting and retaining laboratory personnel by using existing federal programs to create scholarship and loan repayment options for those considering healthcare careers in the laboratory setting, for providing grants to institutions which intend to expand or establish laboratory training programs, and for placing an emphasis on the training of laboratory professionals at certain federal health agency programs.

H.R. 1175 is an important step in building the laboratory workforce infrastructure needed to alleviate shortages in this critical part of the healthcare delivery system. We appreciate your interest and attention to this important matter.

Alice Weissfeld, Ph.D., Chair, Committee on Professional Affairs
Joseph M. Campos, Ph.D.,Chair, Committee on Laboratory Practices