Monday, 1 September 2014

Questions, Questions, Questions - Should You Become a MLT?

So I took some time last night to answer some common questions about the Medical Laboratory Science profession and how to decide if it's the right program for you!

I also talk about my experience in the program, in clinical and how I got interested in being an MLT myself. The video is a bit on the long side (13 minutes) but I wanted to make sure I covered these topics thoroughly.

Hopefully you enjoy and find it informative. If you have any other questions, let me know. I might do a round two video as well!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Answering your Questions!

Hello Readers!

I've been getting a lot questions via my as well as through e-mail and I thought it was time I put together a video answering some of the more common questions I get. This way I'm able to get information out to those people who might be too shy to contact me in the first place. 

Common topics seem to be:
  • How I chose Medical Laboratory Science
  • My Background and My Journey to Michener
  • Reviews of the Program
  • My Clinical Placement Experience
  • Job Outlook and My Job Hunting Experience
I'm planning on putting this together in the next day or two so hopefully I can have one or two videos that can be used as a reference for people considering Med Lab or are current students themselves.

If you have any other questions or topics you'd like covered, please leave a comment here, tweet me @medlabmaven or email me!


Monday, 14 July 2014

Finally Graduating and Being Valedictorian

Though I finished my program in February, my official convocation wasn’t until a few weeks ago on June 21st in Toronto at the Centre for the Arts. I made the trip from Ottawa to celebrate my journey at The Michener Institute with family, friends and classmates.
Waiting to enter the hall with my friends Sarah and Steph!
I was honoured to be nominated and was selected to be the Valedictorian for the Class of 2014, something I had always had as a goal in the back of my mind. Speaking for the class of over 500 graduates was nerve-wracking but I believe my speech represented the class as a whole and I was also able to put Medical Laboratory Science in the spotlight. 

Receiving my Diploma (copyright The Michener Institute)

Why I did I want to be Valedictorian? At least the last 4 valedictorians had been males and my professors could not remember the last time someone from Laboratory Science was Valedictorian. I was thrilled to be able to represent laboratory professionals and women in science at convocation.

Also, I feel like I had something important to share on behalf of our class. Not only have I worked hard to be involved in the school and represent the Laboratory profession well, I also hoped to inspire our class to take what we learned and go out to make changes in the world. I feel my time at Michener shows that you should take pride in your profession and anyone can make a difference. While I was limited by time in my speech I did speak more about this in my Q&A interview on the Michener website here. 

Now you're probably curious about my speech! I was happy with how it went. Thankfully they had a giant spotlight on me so I was essentially blinded up at the podium (didn't have to worry about looking at anyone!) Many of my professors came to support me and had wonderful things to say after the ceremony which I greatly appreciated. 

Please feel free to share with anyone, especially new grads in Healthcare. I hope they find it as inspiring as my professors did!

Thank you all for your support!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Guest Blogger Jennifer O'Neill on Labcon 2014


My first guest poster is one of my good friends and fellow Michener Alum, Jennifer O'Neill! She worked closely on the Med Lab Students' Society with me and this year she had the opportunity to experience Labcon 2014 thanks to the CSMLS Leaders of Tomorrow Grant. Since I had such a great experience when I went to Labcon in 2013 (which you can check out here), I asked her to write a post about her time at Labcon and hopefully encourage you to head to the next conference!   - K


Last week I had an amazing opportunity to attend CSMLS Labcon2014 in sunny Saskatoon. The "sunny" part was an exaggeration as it rained everyday, but the conference was fantastic. I made new friends, heard talks about upcoming technology, and discussed current issues and new ideas within the medical laboratory profession. As a recent graduate, the networking experience was invaluable. I spoke to technologists from different departments across Canada, some working in areas I didn't even realize we could work in.

I am going to give you just a few highlights from my weekend at Labcon2014. If you want to know more, you'll have to experience it yourself!

One of my first sessions was Using Change Management in The Clinical Laboratory.  This talk by Susan McDonald from Siemens, gave a great explanation of how to handle change in the laboratory.  It was from the perspective of a workflow improvement manager, but I really felt that the advice given was applicable as a bench technologist as well.  She explained the "only thing constant in the lab is change" and provided tools and steps for embracing the inevitable evolution as labs alter their workflow and technology advances.

Generations 2.0 - Christine Neilsen's talk about the differences in the generations currently working in laboratories across Canada was filled with advice I wish I had heard a couple of years ago. The talk described the professional habits and values of each generation and gave examples of how they interact with each other.  Throughout my limited experience in the laboratory I have definitely witnessed occasional moments of frustration from my Generation Y colleagues when speaking to those from older generations.   It was great to really see how different generations operate and hopefully help to dispel those "lazy" and "entitled" Gen Y myths.  Learning how to be mindful of the values of all colleagues, both older and younger, is crucial in maintaining a positive work environment.

Speaking of generation differences--there was a big focus this year on social media and how we can adapt this into laboratory culture. Joel Riverio (@thefirstjoel), instructor at NAIT in Alberta demonstrated how he engaged his students via social media to create a fun learning environment tailored to his media-focused students. As a twenty-something new graduate, I use social media to interact with my colleagues, share science news, find volunteering opportunities, as well as discuss advice and ideas with current MLT students.  I was excited to see how Joel and CSMLS are connecting Twitter and Facebook with the laboratory profession.  We work in an area where change is constant and having more ways to share what's happening and keep everyone involved and engaged is a positive for everyone.  As social media isn't going away any time soon, it's important to embrace the
cultural shift towards it but also look for learning opportunities to educate everyone, on how to use social media appropriately.   I thought CSMLS did a great job this year with integrating social media into the various Labcon events. (#Labcon2014)

Used with permission from CSMLS
President's Reception, Lisette Vienneau (CSMLS Bilingual Director), Jennifer O'Neill (myself), Natalie Campbell (CSMLS President), and Jana Keogh, (fellow Leaders of Tomorrow Winner), Photo by CSMLS, used with permission

The President's Reception at the beautiful Delta Bessborough was fantastic.  I met so many great laboratory professionals from across Canada, who upon hearing I'm a new technologist had plenty of knowledge and advice to share with me.  It's always great to hear all the "things I wish I knew when I started" from those with lots of experience.  The chance to discuss the profession, the talks we attended, and what the future holds for laboratory science was great. And since the Saskatoon Jazz Festival was nearby, we were treated to some John Legend music outside!

There were so many other great things about this weekend, I could go on forever--the exhibitors, the swag (I'll never need to purchase a pen again!), talks about tissue banking, laboratory ethics, what's new in hematology, etc.

I would not have been able to attend Labcon if it wasn't for the CSMLS Leaders of Tomorrow Grant. This award (also won by Med Lab Maven herself last year), provided me with the means to attend and I highly encourage all current MLT students and recent graduates to apply for this award. Next year is in Montreal, QC so you know it will be an exciting conference!

Monday, 2 June 2014

On Getting a Job...

I've been anxiously waiting a little bit to make this post which contributed to my brief hiatus. I wanted to set into my job before blogging about it in case something horrible happened. Now that I have gotten over that worry, I wanted to share some bits and pieces about my first job as a Technologist!

Shortly after receiving my CSMLS results an opportunity present itself to interview for a full-time position in a Microbiology reference lab. Now for those who know me, this was basically my dream position. I have always wanted to work in Microbiology, combining my BSc with my technical training as an MLT.  Of course, being a very fresh new grad, I did not think I stood a chance to actually get the position but was thrilled to interview for it for the experience and to get my name out there, if nothing else. The interview went well and shortly after I got the email offering me the position!

The position itself covers a number of different departments. I currently work in the Tuberculosis lab processing, culturing and analyzing specimens - something not covered very in-depth in school! Everyday I process a variety of specimens ranging from tissues, pleural fluid, sputum and bronchial washings and then read the concentrate smears for acid fast bacilli via fluorescence microscopy. I recently completed my Level 3 training to work with pure cultures of mycobacteria grown in liquid media (MGIT) and solid media (Lowenstein- Jensen). The procedure to enter Level 3 is very tedious with many layers of scrubs, gloves, gowns and protective hood. I still think it blows my family's minds that I wear a PAPR and a "moon suit" every day.
Much more spacious version of what I wear
The TB lab is a very unique setting from other microbiology labs as it is so specialized. There are so many little things to know such as certain mycobacteria such as M.xenopi or M.gordonae grow in yellow balls in liquid media and may not be picked up by the machine. You have to carefully look at the tube media once it is taken out to make sure they are not missed. Also, I find it much more connected than other micro labs I have been in as I am constantly having to call physicians with positive results or speak directly with infection control practitioners who need results or have questions. I have already have to explain the processing procedure to a few interested physicians as well!

So far I am absolutely loving what I do and can feel the impact I am making on patients' lives. I am thrilled that my first technologist job is one that I love and where I want to be right now. It can only get better from here!