Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

A Two-Decades-Long Study of Scholarship by Clinical Laboratory Science Faculty

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

A Two-Decades-Long Study of Scholarship by Clinical Laboratory Science Faculty

Article excerpt

To compete successfully in academia, clinical laboratory science (CLS) faculty members must actively engage in research and scholarly activities. Without research, some CLS educators may experience difficulty in the promotion and tenure process or even find their educational programs threatened with closure. Thus began a national study, spanning the years 1985, 1996, and 2008: to compare CLS faculty demographics, their scholarship, and their perceptions of the research environment. Since 1985, faculty members with doctorates have increased from 26% to 52% and senior faculty at the rank of associate and full professors have improved from 38% to 54%. Over time, the data show CLS faculty are providing more refereed publications (in the 2008 study, 19% had 11 or more publications) and more presentations (in the 2008 study, 34% had 11 or more presentations). Grant monies garnered included $62 million in the latest study. On the other hand, there are more faculty in non-tenured track positions. In addition, in both the 1996 and 2008 studies, the average number of faculty per program remained the same (4), as did hours spent each week in teaching (22). For all three studies, faculty perceived the top two research environment characteristics the same: i.e., 1) research is important for promotion and tenure and 2) computer accessibility is present. The lowest ranked characteristic of the research environment for all these studies-time available for research. J Allied Health 2011; 40(2):72-77.

IN 1923 KATHRYN FRANCIS became the first individual to graduate from a baccalaureate program in medical technology (clinical laboratory science, CLS) located at the University of Minnesota. After that time, numbers of all CLS programs grew, reaching a high of 791 in 1970 including both college/university and hospital-based programs. Numbers declined thereafter, with 226 total CLS programs in both 2007 and 2010 as recorded by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). In 1996 there were 127 baccalaureate CLS programs in all four-year colleges and universities, and in 2008, 106 programs.

While program numbers have decreased, expectations for many allied health faculty have increased, especially in scholarly (research) activities. Our 1998 publication offers a number of earlier literature citations concerning both the philosophic need for research and actual research productivity within the allied health sciences.1 More recently, Akroyd et al.,2 Balogun and Sloan,3 and Calvert et al.4 have provided additional references concerning the need for, or criteria used, regarding scholarship in tenure and promotions decisions.

In a 2007 editorial in the Journal of Allied Health, Lyons succinctly pointed out:5

One of the enduring problems faced by the allied health professions is the perceived lack of significant, funded research conducted by allied health faculty. Two impediments to this research have been described in the literature: the first is the lack of research training and mentoring available to the faculty, and the second is the lack of funding opportunities.

In addition to these impediments, many allied health faculty teach extensively, minimizing time available for research. Still many faculty and administrators in allied health, as well as those in higher positions, believe that research is important for promotion and tenure, is an institutional and departmental priority, and is rewarded. Moreover, the status of programs and the ranking of schools are linked closely to the scholarly activities of their faculty.

This study seeks to provide an update (2008) on research and productivity in CLS, with comparison to data gathered first in 1985 and then in 1996. The investigation is part of a longitudinal research effort spanning over two decades. It examines:

* demographic characteristics of CLS faculty members;

* time spent per week in research;

* their involvement in research outcomes, including refereed publications, presentations, and grant funding awarded;

* faculty perceptions of the research environment. …

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