ARUP Laboratories and University of Utah Create MT Training Center

The organizations used employment data to secure $3M in federal funding

CEO SUMMARY: To help resolve the ongoing shortage of MTs and MLSs, ARUP Laboratories and the University of Utah’s Medical Laboratory Sciences Division took a novel approach to secure funding for a new laboratory scientist training center. They worked with their congressional representative to obtain federal funds for the project. 


FACED WITH THE SAME SHORTAGE OF MEDICAL TECHNOLOGISTS (MTs) AND MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENTIESTS (MLSs) as other clinical laboratories across the United States, two Utah lab organizations took a uniquely creative approach to fund and launch a training center for laboratory scientists. 

ARUP Laboratories recently secured federal funding of $3 million specifically to build a new clinical lab training center in partnership with the Medical Laboratory Sciences Division at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Both organizations are based in Salt Lake City and worked closely together. 

The project offers a novel solution to the MT and MLS staffing shortage that medical labs in other parts of the country will want to study and emulate. 

Tracy George, MD, at ARUP Laboratories
Tracy George, MD

“We want this training center for laboratory scientists to be a model for the nation,” said Tracy George, MD, President and Chief Scientific Officer at ARUP. “We’re fully invested in making this work.” 

George—along with Jonathan Genzen, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer at ARUP, and Diana Wilkins, MS, PhD, Chief of the Division of Medical Laboratory Sciences in the university’s Department of Pathology—spoke to The Dark Report about the project. 

These innovators explained the steps they took to get the endeavor rolling, beneficial political nuances they recognized, and considerations for other labs facing long-term training needs for future workers. 

Part one of our intelligence briefing on this important accomplishment is presented in the following pages. It explains the data that organizers uncovered in support of a request for federal funding, where they found this evidence, and how they presented it to lawmakers. 

Part two, to be published in a subsequent issue, outlines the path forward for ARUP and the University of Utah as they bring this training center up to speed, along with advice for how other labs can replicate their success in funding and building their own MT and MLS training centers. 

ARUP received $3,055,000 for the project in the year-end omnibus bill that Congress passed to keep the federal government operating. That bill received plenty of attention from clinical laboratories because several high-stakes lab initiatives were dropped from the 4,000-page legislation. (See TDR, “Congress Averts PAMA Cuts to Lab Test Rates for 2023,” Jan. 3. 2023.) 

Details on Training Center

Formally called the Advanced Practice Clinical Laboratory Training Center, the new facility will be completed in 2024. 

Medical laboratory science students at the University of Utah will gain advanced clinical diagnostic testing experience at the new clinical lab training center before finishing their clinical education in more specialized testing environments at ARUP Laboratories or other locations. 

The federal funds will pay for the center’s construction as well as state-of-the-art instrumentation that students will use there. 

The university’s Medical Laboratory Sciences Division will develop and fund new educational curriculum and provide the necessary faculty and staff for the training center. 

In addition, the division received internal university grant funding to purchase a laboratory information system (LIS) that can be used by students at the new training center.

Diana Wilkins, MS, PhD, at University of Utah
Diana Wilkins, MS, PhD

Wilkins said the new facility—which will be located on the ARUP Laboratories campus at the University of Utah Research Park—will enable the division to reach a goal of doubling to 80 the number of annual medical laboratory science undergraduates.

“Many programs across this country are exploring ways to offset their need for clinical site training by establishing simulation training facilities,” Wilkins observed. “But those can be difficult to scale up. They also are expensive to fund and maintain over the long term for most academic institutions. However, the ARUP training center is designed to scale up so as to rapidly accommodate growth of the program while also providing the mechanism required to maintain this center over the long term.”

Evidence to Support Funding

Strong evidence of the need for more MTs and MLSs helped the training center proposal make it past stiff competition from hundreds of other funding requests submitted during the last Congress.

“We looked at two major sources of information,” Wilkins said. “The first was data that’s available through the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau gives a projected outlook at what occupations will be in demand in coming years. Data for both 2021 and 2022 suggested there is a continuing, nationwide shortage of medical lab scientists. We used that data to support the rationale for federal funding of the new training center.”

ARUP and the university’s Medical Laboratory Sciences Division also turned to data from the American Society for Clinical Pathology’s (ASCP) 2020 Vacancy Survey. Analysis of the survey indicated a need for more qualified laboratory personnel and additional solutions to staffing challenges, according to ASCP.

“We used the data to show a growing need for qualified, well-trained people in the clinical laboratory field,” Wilkins noted. “Having this information available while also being in the middle of a pandemic—when labs were being increasingly called upon to handle the testing needs for the community at large very quickly—confirmed that labs need more graduates in the medical lab science field. So, the data supported the rationale that we were in the right place at the right time for this federal funding.”

Wilkins and George knew each other from lab executive leadership meetings both attended in the Salt Lake City area.

“I remember Diana bringing up the idea of a mock laboratory—a training facility intended to meet the need of getting more students into clinical lab rotations,” George recalled. “And we thought, ‘How can we make this work?’”

George knew of community partnership funding available through the office of U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah).

“ARUP has been giving lab tours to various Utah legislators to let them know they had a great laboratory right in their backyard,” George said. “We showed the legislators some of the cool work we’re doing and told them we have a big outreach in STEM with high schools and academic medical centers. So, we were making the right political connections when this idea for the training center came about.”

In early 2022, organizers of the training center filed an application for this funding with Stewart’s office. The organizers provided the data gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and American Society for Clinical Pathology, as well as community support letters. 

Use of Taxpayer Dollars

“There is a formal application process that we worked through,” Genzen explained. “I can’t speak to how legislators prioritize projects, but it was a thorough and fair submission process where we described what we thought the training facility should be. I imagine that was a big factor in how Congress prioritizes which projects ultimately receive funding.”

The clinical laboratory training center was among 15 projects Representative Stewart submitted for federal community funding and subsequently certified to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee. 

“This project is a good use of taxpayer dollars due to the impact to the workforce and development of medical science students,” Representative Stewart wrote in his certification letter.

Economic Value Predicted

George predicted that, once the laboratory scientist training center is complete, the return on investment will be achieved in only a few years. 

“If we’re talk conservatively about doubling the medical school’s laboratory scientists program from 40 to 80 students, this training center will be a critical piece of it,” she explained. “If the school graduates an extra 40 students per year, in five years that’s 200 more students. There’s an economic impact in producing 200 additional clinical laboratory scientists.”

More MTs and MLSs will also bring benefits to healthcare services in a community even if those people move out of the Salt Lake City area.

Jonathan Genzen, MD, PhD, at ARUP Laboratories
Jonathan Genzen, MD, PhD

“The value of more graduates is their ability to deliver healthcare to patients all across the country,” Genzen noted. “And that could impact millions of people just based on the number of students that we’re able to train.”

Progressive clinical laboratories and pathology practices will be quick to note that the efforts of ARUP and the University of Utah could be replicated elsewhere, perhaps with different circumstances but ultimately the same results. 

In part two of our report, training center organizers will explain the tactics they recommend other labs use when submitting requests for funding of laboratory scientist training programs to government agencies or other sources.

Contact Tracy George, MD, at; Jonathan Genzen, MD, PhD, at; and Diana Wilkins, MS, PhD, at

Where to Find Useful Laboratory Employment Statistics

CLINICAL LABORATORY LEADERS WILL FIND IT HELPFUL TO UNDERSTAND where ARUP Laboratories and the University of Utah found the lab employment data they used to build their case for federal funding of the new lab scientist training center. 

Two primary sources of information became pivotal: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American Society for Clinical Pathology’s (ASCP) 2020 Vacancy Survey results.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a substantial volume of data about job demand and employment. But there are ways for clinical labs to significantly narrow information gathered from the bureau. 

ARUP Laboratories and the University of Utah turned to the federal agency’s online Occupational Outlook Handbook. The handbook outlines professional information about thousands of job categories, including clinical laboratory scientists and medical technologists.

In its entry on that lab occupation, the handbook explains what the job entails, typical salary, and expected demand for the position, among other items.

“Employment of clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is projected to grow 7% from 2021 to 2031,” the handbook notes. “About 25,600 openings for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.” Go to to view the handbook’s homepage.

ASCP Vacancy Survey 

Meanwhile, the ASCP conducts its Vacancy Survey every two years to chronicle workforce shortages in medical labs. Results of the 2020 survey were released in the June 2022 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Pathology (AJCP).

The AJCP’s article provided in-depth detail about employment trends across various clinical lab specialties, retirement patterns, and job vacancy rates by region of the United States.

“According to some participants, it is becoming more difficult to find qualified staff and retain them, especially for certain shifts and in rural areas,” the article’s authors noted. Go to to read the full results in the journal’s archives.


University Funds New LIS

ADVANCED PRACTICE CLINICAL LABORATORY TRAINING CENTER’S new laboratory information system (LIS) was not part of the federal funding request made for the project. Instead, the University of Utah provided internal grant money to its Medical Laboratory Sciences Division for the LIS. 

“The university has an annual grant mechanism in which faculty can put together an application for technology funding through the university for unique projects,” said Diana Wilkins, MS, PhD. “One thing we did not have in our student lab was an LIS. It would be ideal to expose students to an LIS before they enter the workplace.

“So, we put together a proposal,” she added. “We obtained funding through the university’s educational computing fund to help support the LIS software and licensing purchase. We also received internal funds through the Department of Pathology for requisite hardware.”

IT and software teams are currently in the process of implementing the LIS so that it will be operational once the training center opens.



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