Context: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 15% growth in medical laboratory science (MLS, formerly clinical laboratory science and medical technology) graduates from 2010 to 2020. Kentucky is underserved and has a maldistribution of medical laboratory practitioners, composed of scientists and technicians, with rural communities more likely to be underserved by MLS graduates. 1 Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is likely to increase demand for medical laboratory practitioners because of the ACA’s preventative health focus and the expansion of access to healthcare. An increase in the aging population will also contribute to a greater need to diagnose medical conditions such as cancer or type 2 diabetes using laboratory procedures.

Objective: Estimate the need for graduates from medical laboratory science/technician programs and evaluate a potential educational model centered at the UK Center for Excellence in Rural Health that would build on in-place education and guide medical laboratory science graduates to underserved rural communities.

Design: Comparative analysis of Kentucky’s population ratio of medical laboratory science/technician graduates with its seven border states. Data are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kentucky Labor Market Information system, Kentucky State Data Center. Participants: University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health and University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences.

Main Outcome Measure(s): Estimates of need for MLS graduates.

Results: Kentucky has a current need of 461 medical laboratory scientists and 1,067 medical laboratory technicians when compared to the seven states that border Kentucky.

Conclusions: The Center of Excellence in Rural Health can take the lead in the development of a cooperative model that educates and trains MLS students through an associate degree program (e.g., associate of science) and prepares them for beginning a baccalaureate program offered at the Center of Excellence in Rural Health. This program can help meet a substantial need for MLS graduates and offer opportunities for new careers for persons displaced through downturns in the coal industry and other labor dislocations in Eastern Kentucky.

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A poster presentation at the Kentucky Rural Health Association’s 15th Annual Conference in Bowling Green, KY.