Sunday, February 20, 2011
Quality Education: what's it good for?
We are putting together a Master’s in Laboratory Quality Management which we expect will be available both in an on-line option and an on-site option. The on-line will primarily be for folks who are working and intend to continue to work. The on-site will be for folks who want to take some time away and spend some time doing primary research in medical laboratory quality. I will continue to write on the subject as the program becomes ready for prime-time.
In the process of putting the proposal together, we did a survey of the folks who participated in the UBC Certificate Course. Rather than invite and re-invite folks to respond to the survey we made the decision to take the responders from the first pass. Both approaches can be equally useful, as long as you take methodology into consideration as you interpret the results.
So after 5 days we gathered about 25 percent of course attenders. The distribution of folks from across British Columbia and across Canada, and from outside Canada were essentially the same as the total group. In addition the responders equally included participants from the early years, the middle years, and the recent years, and few from the current group. As we did not put any pressure on this group we can interpret this as a reasonably representative group.
Of interest to us was that about 90% belief there is a market for people with a Master’s degree today, and that the same percentage see that the market will be much stronger over the next 5-10 years. That is what I believe too.
One finding that interested me, and disappointed me at the same time, was that only about 65% of responders currently are holding positions involved directly in Quality. We didn’t ask how many had held quality positions but had changed jobs, in large part because that was not the primary point of the survey But what was interesting was that folks who had taken the course but were not actively engaged in Quality positions still believed there are opportunities out there, and that the market will continue to get stronger.
Which all got me to thinking; there are all sorts of positions for people interested in and trained in Quality. The most obvious position is as part of a quality team or a part of laboratory management. But there are lots of other places as well. There are positions with all the quality partners, like the proficiency testing group and the accreditation bodies. There are positions within public or civil service, especially within the Ministries (or Departments) of Health and the health authorities, where knowledge of laboratory quality is important. There are positions with service and equipment and reagent suppliers who need to be aware of validation, verification, stability, and measurement uncertainty. And there are consultant positions, especially as we in Canada move more and more towards official inquiries for laboratory error. And importantly there are increasing opportunities within education with the schools of technology, as well as the medical schools.
Bottom line appears to be that Quality in health and in particular the medical laboratory is a growth opportunity; today and tomorrow, and from the folks who responded to our survey, for the next 5-10 years plus.