...In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted we needed 12,000 new clinical laboratory professionals each year to meet rising demand. That includes clinical microbiologists, highly trained scientists with Ph.D.s or medical degrees. But just an estimated 5,000 laboratory professionals enter the work force annually. Clinical microbiology laboratories today have more than 10 percent vacancies, and the pandemic has only compounded the shortfall. (Luckily, we’re not in short supply of the kinds of microbiologists who look into the basic biology of the virus, develop drugs to kill it or are working on a vaccine.)
To rapidly scale-up testing we propose a biomedical version of the National Guard, a rapid response force of microbiologists and other scientists who could help reinforce the health care system during pandemics. This would let hospital laboratories serve as the backbone for medical diagnoses in a pandemic. These laboratories are critical, because an estimated 70 percent of medical decisions are based on diagnostic tests....Who does the leadership of the American Society for Microbiology think they should recruit?
...We have an overflow of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows currently training in microbiology and it would require us to recruit about 4 percent of them. That would mean roughly 300 scientists could deploy to hospitals or from remote support centers, with board-certified clinical microbiologists supervising them. Of course, we know clinical microbiologists do not appear out of thin air. They require long, expensive training. Yet many of these students and fellows would welcome the chance to join this part-time project for additional practical training and stipend support...I find it rather appalling to take students (that there is "an overflow of") to recruit for a side project. The right thing to do is to tell these students to get the heck out of the field!
(Let's be honest, some kind of reserve for scientists makes sense, but it isn't clear to me that you need some kind of governmental program to make this happen?, i.e. it seems to be happening now anyway?)