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Industry Insights

How Part-Time Lab Directors Generate Cost Savings for Medical Laboratories

While high-complexity medical laboratories are required under federal regulations to have a CLIA Lab Director in place to oversee their operation, the requirements a lab director must satisfy on a day-to-day basis can vary greatly depending on numerous factors. In fact, labs are often unaware they can meet lab director requirements by hiring a part-time director at a fraction of the cost of a full-time individual. 

Joe Kessler, Director of Recruiting, LLS

Joe Kessler, Director of Recruiting, LLS

The concept of a part-time lab director may sound unconventional to some labs, especially those accustomed to the traditional model of having a full-time, onsite director. However, for many smaller independent reference labs, physician office labs, and even some small hospital clinics, a part-time lab director can be a practical and cost-effective solution. 

“What many people don’t realize is the laboratory director is there to provide oversight for a narrowly structured series of discrete activities,” says Joe Kessler, Director of Recruiting and Staffing for Lighthouse Lab Services. “But that taken by themselves, those duties don’t always constitute an overly heavy lift and can often be delegated to onsite staff with appropriate oversight from the director.” 


Comparing Potential Savings 

One of the primary benefits of hiring a part-time lab director is the significant cost savings when compared against a full-time hire. For example, check out these estimates based on our internal salary data below: 

  • Full-time annual national average: $250,000 to $450,000 (will vary depending on state, type of testing being performed, and more) 
  • Part-time national average: $20,000 to $40,000 (similar considerations apply) 

In short, labs can save roughly 80 percent or more of the expenses associated with employing a full-time lab director. Additionally, part-time lab directors can typically fulfill their responsibilities in about six to eight hours each month, making this a highly efficient arrangement for both sides. 


Ideal Scenarios for a Part-Time Lab Director 

For smaller labs, including independent reference labs and physician office labs, the duties of a lab director are often limited to specific oversight tasks mandated by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA) regulations. Keep in mind, the position is a unique requirement of CLIA and differs from the responsibilities of an Administrative Lab Director. While these duties are essential, they don’t necessarily demand the full-time presence of a lab director to fulfill.  

In these instances, the day-to-day operations can be delegated and effectively managed by the general supervisor and testing personnel, who ensure the day-to-day operations of your business continue to run smoothly.  

“In these situations, the lab director requirement becomes a matter of ensuring that you have proper professional oversight and that your lab is compliant with the state and federal regulations you need to meet,” Kessler says. 

Part-time lab director opportunities are often ideal for qualified lab professionals seeking to supplement their income or those who may be nearing retirement age but want to continue working in a reduced capacity. Additionally, since most states allow lab directors to oversee up to five sites, many part-time directors enjoy the flexibility of being able to fulfill some duties remotely while still meeting the requirements for on-site hours. These scenarios also enable labs to benefit from the expertise of seasoned professionals without the need for a full-time hire. 


Reduced Stress and Maintaining Operations

If cost savings and proper oversight for a lab can be achieved simply by hiring a part-time lab director, then why would a lab work with a professional recruiting or staffing firm to help identify and place candidates? While one obvious answer is that a dedicated recruiter will be able to cast a wider net through their professional network and identify a larger pool of candidates, an often-overlooked advantage is ensuring you have continuous coverage if your director needs to be replaced. 

Should a lab director need to step down suddenly due to personal emergencies or other reasons, recruiting firms like Lighthouse can quickly provide a replacement within days, ensuring uninterrupted compliance with CLIA regulations. This both eliminates the burden of scrambling to find a new lab director and provides peace of mind. 

“You won’t save a fortune conducting the search yourself and you’re leaving yourself in a potential position of future burden if anything goes wrong with your hire and you have to repeat the process,” Kessler points out. “And on top of that, you are also getting the full protection, cooperation, and coordination of our professional team.” 

By partnering with Lighthouse, labs gain access to a wealth of knowledge pertaining to CLIA and state regulations. In fact, outside of the accrediting agencies, the knowledge of Lighthouse’s Lab Director Team is virtually unparalleled and much easier to access. This expertise is particularly beneficial given the complexity of CLIA guidelines, which can be challenging to navigate or interpret accurately without the specialized knowledge gained through decades of tracking these updates. 


When a Full-Time Lab Director is Necessary 

Although part-time lab directors are a great consideration for many labs, it’s important to note that not all laboratories can operate effectively with a part-time lab director. Larger hospitals and independent reference labs often require a full-time, on-site lab director due to the diversity of their testing services and the oversight demands they require. These environments benefit from the continuous presence of a pathologist or a dedicated lab director to manage their extensive operations. 

Of course, Lighthouse also specializes in the placement of full-time pathologists and other qualified candidates for CLIA Lab Director openings. Our team is available to help you weigh your needs and determine which path is most appropriate for your business. 


Next Steps 

For many smaller laboratories, hiring a part-time lab director offers a cost-effective and efficient solution that ensures compliance and professional oversight. Partnering with a specialized service like Lighthouse not only saves money but also provides flexibility, reduces stress, and ensures you are on top of regulatory changes impacting clinical and medical labs.  

Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more!


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