The evolution of biomedical Sciences in Europe: historical explanation and future prospects
This work seeks to identify those factors that have influenced the development of the professional group of workers associated with medical laboratory sciences. It has also examined the features that have both encouraged and impeded the trend towards European harmonisation within the profession. The study concentrates on the evolution of this occupational category with respect to four European Nations - the UK, Germany, Greece and Sweden. These countries have been selected on the basis that they have different financial systems for the delivery of health care. The thesis begins with an assessment of the significance of emergent medical sciences during the Renaissance and their impact on diagnostic pathology. This is followed by a consideration of the contribution of Twentieth Century medical advances, set against the background of the Industrial Revolution and the demands emanating from global conflict. The role of scientific and technological developments are seen as the most significant influences in forging European harmonisation within those professions concerned with biomedical sciences.
The next consideration concerns the attitude of medical laboratory technologists towards the notion of "profession", together with their ability to identify the characteristics of such a concept. Results indicate that the ability of practitioners in such respect is not significantly different from that of other members of the professions allied to medicine, or the learned professions. The influence of health care systems on medical laboratory sciences is examined by identifying the political, economic, social and technological factors shaping health care delivery in the above countries. In all cases, diagnostic pathology services are financed by a mixture of public and private provision. The thesis also assesses the relationship between the various professional bodies and licensing authorities. Although practitioners in all four countries require some form of licensure (i.e. ate "regulated professions"), only those in the UK undergo State Registration on an annual basis.
The views of practitioners towards the mutual recognition of European professional qualifications has been sought using semi-structured interviews. There is some support for such a principle, but in practice little activity is taking place. A comparison has also been made of the views of undergraduates and tutors towards European exchange schemes such as SOCRATES. This is achieved using questionnaires aimed at assessing participation rates, identification of barriers to student mobility, levels of awareness regarding European current affairs, and language competencies. Student participation is relatively low and the main barrier to study in other European countries has been identified as lack of finance. Comparisons have been made with respect to curriculum content, student assessment strategies, course fees and other aspects of education. There is a requirement to increase levels of provision with respect to European studies and students need to be better informed regarding opportunities available to them. The influence of European Union policy on academic and professional harmonisation is assessed by considering aspects of student and staff exchange schemes, together with the possible affects of the Sorbonne and Bologna Declarations. The work concludes with some recommendations for increasing the role of education and training with respect to achieving closer European integration. These include a re-assessment of the affects of replacing Inter-University Collaborative Programmes with Institutional Contracts.
There is also a need for greater tutor advocacy and further EU investment in student grant aid.