A case study of the decision making process that led to the closing of the medical laboratory science program at BCIT in 1996 and its reopening in 1999

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(Thesis) Ed.D.
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For years, the supply of health professionals has been characterized by "boom and bust" cycles. At times, planners have perceived an oversupply of healthcare providers and, at other times, a shortage. This case study of the medical laboratory technologist occupation is a prime example. The purpose of this study was to investigate the closure and reopening of the Medical Laboratory Science Program at BCIT and discuss the issues and lessons to be learned from the decision making criteria and process used. The health reforms of the 1990’s had a profound impact on medical laboratory technologists in British Columbia. There was a perceived surplus of technologists, a major shift in practice to highly automated core laboratory -based settings, an increase in the casualization of the workforce; and a workforce that was getting older. Monitoring and investigating the key forces in the demand for and supply of medical laboratory personnel provides useful insights into the future and better information for determining policy actions. However, the data collected by BCIT from employers on their projected hiring needs provided a limited picture. More information was needed. The story of the closure of the medical laboratory science program at BCIT is a cautionary tale with three important lessons. First, we rarely have good research evidence to support health human resources planning. Second, program discontinuance decisions are not easy to make. There are many stakeholders that need to be consulted and a complete environmental scan must be undertaken considering all internal and external factors. Third, there is still much work to be done in the efforts to improve decision making abilities of administrators to be more thorough in their data gathering and analysis. It is recommended that educational administrators adopt the Force Field Analysis model that encompasses the idea that forces both drive and restrain change. The diagram helps us picture the “tug-of-war” between the forces around any given issue. Because force-field analysis causes people to think about what works for and against the status quo it can be used to study existing problems, or to anticipate and plan more effectively for implementing change.
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