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Growing Our Own – In Our Lab

August 12, 2021

Pictured with Director of Laboratory Services Amy Shopland are (l to r)
John, Emily and Sarah.

Growing Our Own. Yes, we are growing our own! Lab technicians that is.

Director of Laboratory Services, Amy Shopland explained that the program was developed by Avril Cochran VP of Operations and Copley’s own Lab to attract, train, and employ much needed lab technicians.

“Nationwide,” Shopland said, “there is a shortage of lab technicians. And a big part of the reason for that is a general lack of knowledge, not only about the profession, but that the profession even exists. Most lab testing is done quietly, in the background. Patients seldom will meet their lab technician, and very few schools offer programs in this area of healthcare. For small hospitals like Copley, that presents a problem.”

With only two schools in the area offering courses in lab technology – and graduates of those schools having numerous hospitals or medical offices from which to choose – Copley decided to take matters into its own hands. “We decided to grow our own,” Shopland said.

To do this, Copley partnered with Utah-based Weber University to take advantage of their online degree program, while providing hands-on training, instruction, and “clinical” right here. “Weber provides the online courses; we provide the hands-on training,” Shopland said. “Students learn the science of lab technology by doing the actual clinical work under the supervision of our Lab Techs as they work towards their degrees.

“This really is a win-win,” said John Gilmour. “I am able to earn a degree in lab technology – completely free by the way – while simultaneously earning a paycheck. And the best part is, once I’ve earned that degree, I am guaranteed a job.”

In return, Shopland pointed out, students make a 3-year commitment to work as lab technicians right here at Copley. And so far, the program is performing very well.

“We’ve attracted both new college grads as well as mid-lifers looking for a new career or challenge,” Shopland said. “Since we introduced the program we’ve had nearly 20 people apply and we’ve hired five. What’s more, these are local people who want to live and work right here in Central Vermont. They’re happy to make that three-year commitment, and we hope that most will want to stay on well beyond three years.”

While the rest of the nation figures out how to solve the growing problem of finding and hiring lab technicians, Copley – in true Vermont fashion – has found its own solution. “We’re growing our own!”