Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Mary Baker

Abstract

Professional socialization is a process that individuals experience as members of a profession and consists of the knowledge, attitudes, and experiences that influence and shape their professional identity. The process of professional socialization has not been studied in the clinical laboratory science profession. Clinical laboratory science is an allied health profession that is faced by a workforce shortage that has been caused by a decrease in new graduates, decreased retention of qualified professionals, and increased retirements. Other allied health professions such as nursing, athletic training, and pharmacy have studied professional socialization as a way to identify factors that may influence the retention of early career professionals.

This mixed method study, which quantitatively used Hall's Professionalism Scale (1968) in addition to qualitative focus group interviews, sought to identify the professional attitudes and behaviors, sense of belonging, and professional socialization of early career clinical laboratory scientists. Early career clinical laboratory scientists were divided into two groups based upon the amount of work experience they had; new clinical laboratory science graduates have had less than one year of work experience and novice clinical laboratory scientists had between one and three years of work experience.

This study found that early career clinical laboratory scientists have established professional identities and view themselves as members of the clinical laboratory science field within four proposed stages of professional socialization consisting of pre-arrival, encounter, adaptation, and commitment. New CLS graduates and novice clinical laboratory scientists were found to be at different stages of the professional stage process. New CLS graduates, who had less than one year of work experience, were found to be in the encounter stage. Novice clinical laboratory scientists, with one to three years of work experience, were found to be in the adaptation stage. In order for early career clinical laboratory scientists to successfully transition from student to committed professional, increased support from more experienced colleagues needs to be provided for this group of laboratory professionals. This study provided an initial examination of the professional socialization process in the CLS profession and adds to existing professional socialization studies in allied health.

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