Thursday, 29 November 2012

It's the end of the semester!

Well, it's almost time for the semester to come to a close.

I had my last lab today in Transfusion Science on the topic of transfusions reactions. We had to perform a full antibody investigation, ABO and Rh typing, DAT and finally phenotyping of two donor units as well as two patient samples. It's amazing to see how far the class has come from the start of the semester. During the first two weeks, we could barely perform ABO and Rh typing in 3 hours, let alone all of these tasks!

I have a research poster due tomorrow and I decided to create my poster around Pseudomonas aeruginosa nosocomial infections due to colonized water reservoirs in a hospital environment. I found some very interesting articles on how increased prevalence of biofilms due to low-pressure faucets are causing an increase in infections.

Besides all of my final assignments, my exams are starting in less than a week with Clinical Infectious disease leading it off! I have to buckle down and starting reviewing my notes to ensure I have ESBLs and Skin infections down pat. Both of these topics gave me a little bit of trouble due to the sheer volume of information I need to retain and the important details for both.

In personal news, I received a grant from CSMLS to attend LabCon 2013 in Victoria, BC! I am so excited and honoured to have been selected and cannot wait to see the new, exciting things happening in respect to Medical Laboratory Science!


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Testing for Diabetes and a Little Catch Up

So my posts have been, *ahem* lacking, for a better word over the past two months. To summarize, school consumed most of my time as well as working a part-time job, so blogging was put on the back burner for a bit. I promise to try to blog more and give you some exciting tidbits from my classes!

First up is some testing for diabetes mellitus or type II diabetes. Unfortunately, diabetes is becoming extremely prevalent throughout the world. It's estimated that 1 in 3 people born after 2000 will have type II diabetes at some point in their lifetime. With these statistics, knowing proper diabetes testing is incredibly important as lab professionals will be running this test quite frequently.

One diagnostic test is the fasting plasma glucose. Patients must fast for 8-10 hours prior to testing to ensure an accurate result that is not affected by a sugary meal or drink. The blood sample must be collected in a grey top tube (potassium oxalate and sodium fluoride preservatives) to ensure active glycolysis doesn't break down the sample, which would cause the results to be falsely decreased.  The reference interval for fasting plasma glucose is 4.1-5.9 mmol/L. Any result over 7.0 mmol/L would be diagnostic for type II diabetes.

Another test that is used to monitor diabetes as well as diagnose, is HbA1C (hemoglobinA 1c).  This looks for the amount of glycated hemoglobin present in a patients blood which will let the physician know how well the patient is monitoring their blood glucose levels. Glycation of hemoglobin occurs when the concentration of glucose is increased in the blood and the sugars covalently bond to hemoglobin to form a ketoamine (HbA1C). This is directly proportional to plasma glucose levels. Since red blood cells have a life span of ~120 days, you can see how well the patient has been managing their blood glucose over a 3 month period.  Typically, you would want a patient with diabetes to have a ratio of 7% HbA1C or less. This would indicate their diabetes is being managed effectively while this would be out of the normal range for someone without diabetes. The non-diabetic range is 4-6%.

This was just a taste of what I had to know for my chemistry test on Monday. I'm hoping that I can manage a decent mark because I have been so stressed over my midterms lately. Hope if you're in school, you are through your midterms by now!

To reward myself for completing the last of my tests before the finals, I treated myself to some froyo!


Monday, 12 November 2012

Tablets and Textbooks:

I had the pleasure of being able to use a Samsung Galaxy Tab for one week as a part of a "Tablet Challenge" from Rogers. 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is a new 10.1" tablet that has 4G speed capabilities as well as WiFi. It uses the Android platform and has access to Google Play as well as the Android Market for apps, games and music. It would be comparable to an iPad in terms of size and weight.

My task was to try to use a tablet for as much of my school work as possible to see if it's possible for tablets to replace textbooks and computers in the future. The Rogers Innovation Report noted that 35% of Youth believe tablets can replace textbooks within the next 5 years!  I was excited to give this a try, especially with my program which is very dependent on PowerPoint presentations.

Is it possible? Do you think tablets are going to be a required item in schools soon?

First, the positives:

  • I enjoyed having the 4G capability and immediate access to the internet. This was great to bring up quick facts or additional research I needed for class notes.

  • The tablet is extremely useful for presentations. I had two presentations last week and was able to incorporate it into both by using it as a guide, as well as playing music. The speakers are great quality and I was able to play music in a 25 person class room with no trouble.

  • I was able to view PowerPoint/Office/Excel files on the tablet while simultaneously having a web browser open to make notes.

The one major thing lacking was the compatibility between PowerPoint presentations and the Polaris Office that is provided on the Tab. Unfortunately, while I could read PowerPoints, I could not edit them or add notes without altering the format of the slides which prevents me from downloading them to my laptop. This created a bit of trouble later in the week when I went to get the files out of my drop box (which is a great app I highly recommend!).

Overall, I found myself gravitating back towards my laptop for creating presentations, notes and editing note slides. While the tablet was great fun things, such as watching Netflix or using twitter, it did not fit well into my science heavy program.

I personally don't think we are there yet where textbooks could be replaced by a tablet or a laptop. For my program specifically, we don't use textbooks everyday, rather they are a reference to supplement the lectures we receive. The textbooks I do own are the "old-fashioned" hardcover - so I tend to leave them at home. Most of my textbooks are not available for online use or a textbook I could download to have on my computer which leaves me little choice. I think in the future this is something the publishers should look towards, perhaps by offering an "online rental" such as they have in the US, or an online subscription where you would be entitled to all new editions for the designated time you purchase for. We are still a few years away from publishers offering ALL textbooks online, which means most students will have to a mix of online and hardcover books for a bit longer.

I would recommend the Samsung Galaxy Tab in general. It was fun, easy to use and allowed for easy presentations! But, I do feel it would be better used by social sciences or perhaps engineering where large amounts of textbooks are required for every day use. One of my friends in engineering purchased a tablet last year and downloaded all his textbooks to it instead of lugging his 1000 page books to school!

Check out the Rogers Innovation Report Here!

So that's it! Do you have a tablet? Any recommendations for great apps to use for school? I'm all ears!


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Michener Campus Day

As many of you know, I attend The Michener Institute in Toronto.

I highly recommend my program, as well as my school to anyone looking to receive professional training in a health care field. The support and quality of teaching here is unbelievable and I cannot speak about Michener enough.

I wanted to alert any potential students that Michener is holding "Campus Day" on November 10th at 10am. There will be program information from students and professors as well as tours of the school. If you are at all curious about the programming or the school itself, I would recommend going! Quite a few of my classmates will be there and will be able to answer tons of questions about student life. It's always great to get different perspectives from current students to get a real feel for the program, rather than just the general information.

If you are interested about learning more about Michener and the programs available, check out and sign up!


PS: As always, I'm available via email if you have a specific question!