Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Retiring baby boomers and the lack of interest and awareness among college students to enroll in an accredited Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) program have created a shortage of CLS professionals in the 21st century. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 18,000 CLS vacancies by 2018. However, only about 5,000 students graduate from accredited CLS programs each year. The purpose of this study was to explore students' perceptions of allied health professions and factors that influenced students and CLS professionals to select CLS as a profession. Bandura's social cognitive career theory served as the theoretical framework for this phenomenological study. Convenient purposeful sampling was used to select the 7 CLS professionals, 5 high school students, and 5 college students in the Chicago area. Participants took part in either a 30- to 60-minute group session or a 45- to 90-minute semi structured interview. Qualitative analysis included open axial coding to identify emerging patterns and themes from the transcripts. Findings revealed that the perceptions of both high school and college students' knew little about the CLS profession, and factors influencing CLS as a career choice included interests in science, health care, and family. CLS professionals indicated their interests in science and a high demand for CLS services in the workforce led them to pursue careers in the field. Implications for social change include improving professional-development programs for student awareness of allied health professions and mitigating the shortage of clinical laboratory scientists.