From hairdresser to screening laboratory: own training should make up for staff shortages in Population Screening

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Tired of your work and ready for a new job? Do you want a training with a job guarantee? Population screening in the Netherlands is looking for laboratory technicians for breast screening. Lateral entrants are also welcome.

“I have a hairdressing diploma and worked as a hairdresser for years,” says Corinda Roos. “I had been out of the hairdressing profession for a while, but still wanted to work with people again. Then saw this training on Facebook.” Last September, Corinda started the two-year training for breast cancer screening laboratory in Rotterdam at the South-West Population Screening.

Eliminate staff shortages

The in-service training is intended to make up for the staff shortage. Because there are too few laboratory technicians for the breast cancer population screening, there are considerable backlogs. Screening is normally done every 2 years, but the average in the Netherlands is now 31 months. In order to be able to train additional staff, it was decided to temporarily extend the screening period throughout the Netherlands to 3 years (36 months).

The intention is that the training is here to stay. “We sort in advance of the outflow of personnel, we do not sit around waiting for someone to retire,” says manager of the South West Breast Cancer Screening Manager Marja Hurxkens. “This is a national project, all five population screening regions are working together. With this training we can train enough people to invite everyone again every 24 months for the breast cancer population screening.”


Corinda Roos is in the second year of the breast cancer screening laboratory course.

Too little intake

According to Marja Hurxkens, the staff shortage is greatest in the west and center of the country. According to her, this has to do with the many hospitals in the working area of ​​the Population Screening.

“We have already seen for a number of years that many staff members would retire. In the coming years, one third of the total of 325 laboratory technicians in the Netherlands will leave. Normally we had enough new registrations, often staff from hospitals, but that was now lagging behind.”

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Own training

The training for laboratory technicians who still work in hospitals, but also for lateral entrants. Men and women who have had enough of their current job and want something different. “They receive a training of 2 years. After 1 year they receive a screening certificate and they are allowed to work independently. The second year is for deepening in other fields, so that they may one day move on to a radiology department of a hospital.”

“I think that we can also promote cooperation with hospitals with this”, says Marja Hurxkens. The training costs 30,000 euros and is paid for by the Population Screening Netherlands. “Where can you find an employer who pays for your training and guarantees a job?”

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Marja Hurxkens is project leader of the screening laboratory training course

Lots of enthusiasm

There is great enthusiasm. 150 candidates applied for the first training. Ten of these were accepted. “The entry level is at least HAVO or MBO-4. We also look at whether they can handle the theory. And it is important that the candidate has technical insight and a service-oriented character,” says Hurxkens.

“The selection is strict at the front door, because we want everyone to get the diploma.” Nationally there are now 14 students in training. They go to school, but they also work. Ex-hairdresser Corinda is included, but also a former skin therapist and a student who had a professional tennis career in the offing. The second course for 23 candidates will start in February and another will start in September 2021.

Spicy training

“I like it very much, I think it’s great”, says Corinda, while one of the screening laborers goes through the breast images taken with her. “It is a tough course, I must say. I work 32 hours and you also have your study hours. There are some weekends that I am in the books. But I do everything for it, it’s only 2 years. “

“I like the contact with people and that I can help with the early detection of breast cancer, I think that is a great job.”


Student Corinda Roos is given an explanation on how to take a breast photo

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