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COVID-19 spotlights medical diagnostics

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Science  22 May 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6493, pp. 839
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb8952

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic highlights the importance of the field of medical diagnostics. Governments are trying to avert crisis conditions by opening makeshift testing units and recruiting nonclinical research staff to conduct testing (1), but this strategy is not a long-term solution. To increase the number of medical diagnosticians, this career path should be encouraged, valued, and adequately funded. Diagnostic expertise will likely become even more vital as our rapidly aging societies continue to challenge a strained health care system (2, 3).

Although constant steps are undertaken to improve the working conditions of doctors, paramedics, and nurses [e.g., (4, 5)] as well as to promote these career choices among the young generations (6, 7), the field of medical diagnostics lags (6). Medical universities focused on educating first-line medical staff often give nonclinical degree programs lower priority and funding. Medical diagnostics graduates, saddled with the less prestigious perception of their profession, rarely request higher wages or better working conditions (6). Diagnostics facilities play an important role in the functioning of health care in both everyday and emergency situations, and yet they are often overlooked in budget plans (810). Ensuring proper training, funding, and esteem for diagnostic personnel and facilities is crucial to a successful health care system.

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