Thursday, 12 December 2013

Wound Swabs and Blood Smears

If you are aware of my clinical schedule (which very few of you are), you probably have realized I have gone through 2 disciplines without blogging about them. No, I have not forgotten about blogging! With changing clinical shifts and studying for the exam, this got put on the back burner for a bit but I'm back now!

Me in my natural state
Hematology was my rotation after histology and it was amazing. I have always enjoyed hematology but never to the extent I did at Clinical. I started by running CBCs and coags for the first two weeks on machines I was fairly familiar with, the Coulter LH750 and the ACL-Top. I think that really helped my confidence with being able to troubleshoot, run QC and check patient samples. The last two weeks I spent on the diff bench looking at patient slides.

After two days, I graduated from the training slides to the batches of patient slides (under supervision of course). I don't know why but as I put the first slide under my microscope I started to panic. I have done thousands of slides at this point in my school career but this first patient slide sent me into a tailspin of worry. Would I know what the morph? THERE ARE NO ANSWER FOR ME TO CONFIRM WITH! I think I took 20 minutes just to do red cell morph (it was an Iron Deficient Anemia) but when I showed my instructor and she gave me the thumbs up my confidence returned. I was able to read slides with easy and had a number of great slides including identifying a new Hairy Cell Leukemia case. I had to do a slide test at the end of my rotation and passed with flying colours!

The end of October ushered in my birthday (yay!) as well as my new rotation in Microbiology. I really have nothing but great things to say about this rotation as well. For some reason, micro just sticks and makes sense to me. Well, it might be because I have a degree in it but overall I find I am able to understand and memorize bacteria well. My first experience was on the throat bench which was a nice bench to start with - I'm only looking for one bacteria (or am I?). I was able to get my feet wet and get ready for the more intensive benches. Speaking of intensive benches, I was on the others bench next which required a LOT of knowledge of many different body sites, normal flora and pathogens. I saw a lot of Klebsiella, Citrobacter, Pseudomonas and Staph, Staph, Staph. I made ASTs until my arms were tired. My vitek-ing skills from school came in handy as I was the go-to person to help with the hundreds of viteks they do a day.

I also did a day on the fertility bench doing Post-Vascetomy and Fertility testing on semen samples. I never thought this is something I'd be doing but, there I was! It was really interesting to see how involved fertility testing is and how many different factors you need to look at.

I'm currently in Chemistry doing my 2nd last rotation and I'm learning a lot about the large modular line instruments and TDM. Can't wait to do a blog post about that in a few weeks!

In other news, I am in the Member Spotlight on the new ASCP OneLab website! I was asked to blog about my experience at the ASCP 2013 Chicago Meeting so I  encourage you to head over and give it a read here. Thanks to all my readers for their support!


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Calling all Michener Alumni!

Hello again blog!

You're probably wondering where I've been for the past month and a bit! I've been busy working on studying for the board exam (on February 21st!) and completing my clinical practicum. I just finished hematology and I am now in Microbiology for 4 weeks. It's been exciting and I've had the chance to learn a lot - a blog post coming in the near future.

In the meantime, I wanted to get the word out for a great event being held at The Michener Institute.  The Med Lab Students' Society and Alumni Association are holding a Networking event for 2nd and 3rd year students and alumni to connect and ask questions about the job market, field experience and how to be successful after graduation.  The event is on November 14th from 5:30-7pm at Michener. If you are an alumni who would be interested in attending and help to prepare the future workforce please email I know we would love to have as many people as possible to share their experiences!


Saturday, 28 September 2013

hEr_Volution Workshop - How it went and how you can get involved!

When I was seven years old, I received a microscope for Christmas from my parents. I used to play with it for hours on end – looking at the slides of bugs and bacteria that came with the set. From that point on, I was hooked and knew I wanted to have a future career in science. I had many great teachers through out my school years and family that cultivated that curiosity into a passion.

Unfortunately, some girls do not get that opportunity to grow and explore science due to limited access and social pressures. I knew I wanted to use my positive experience as a woman in Medical Laboratory Science to mentor girls to consider STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers as an option in the future. In my travels on Twitter, I came across hEr_Volution, an organization promoting STEM education in Canada to female students. Immediately, I reached out to see how I could be involved with them and promote what they were doing.  After having a great phone conversation with Doina, the Executive Director of hEr_Volution, I was invited to host a workshop about my experience.

On August 24th, I had the pleasure of hosting a workshop for hEr_Volution at the Microsoft Store in Yorkdale Shopping Centre.  I was able to speak about my experience as a Medical Laboratory Science student at The Michener Institute as well as provide insight to how vaccines are made and how medical testing is done.  For a lot of younger children, this area is not touched in school until high school and it was great to be able to expose them to this line of work early on.  I also included a fun hands-on activity to make “candy DNA” to teach the girls about the structure and function of DNA molecules!

The Science of Cures

Workshop attendees included young girls between the ages of 5-12 and also Toronto area educators that were looking how to further their knowledge about the Medical field. I had some great discussions on how to teach DNA techniques and testing to younger students in a concept then understand. Any opportunity to get science into schools in a fun way is something I support!

Myself with Executive Director Doina Oncel with her daughters Sarah and Maya
I am honoured I was able to represent Medical Laboratory Science and female scientists to encourage girls to consider STEM careers.  I strongly encourage you to get involved in your community and to visit to find out more about their work.


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

My Education Story with Rogers Youth Education Day #BrighterFuture

As many people do after high school, I went through the motions of starting University – hoping to find something I connect with for a future career. I always knew I would be in the science field in some way, I just didn’t know what exactly that would entail.

During my second year of University, I was taking a number of labs in Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry with Teaching Assistants (TAs) due to the larger class sizes. Some of the TAs aren’t as invested in the class as others so when you find a good one, you stick with them. I was placed in Misty’s lab section during my first semester and knew she was someone I would look up to for the rest of my career life. She was a Ph.D student in Biochemistry and was also a soccer player on the side. As one of the only women studying in her field and her passion for science, she truly had a profound effect on how I viewed my own future science career. I saw that the possibilities were there if I wanted to them, it just takes a little hard work.

After I graduated with my Bachelor of Science, I did not want to stop my education there. I felt unfulfilled, like there was more out there for me to learn. I decided to go back to school at The Michener Institute to obtain my diploma in Medical Laboratory Sciences and every day I thank myself for making that decision. I have been overwhelmed with the amount of opportunities I have been presented with during my time at Michener, including working with Rogers Social Insiders. I have been able to attend multiple conferences as a student, connect with industry professionals and work with organizations on STEM outreach. My decision to further my education has greatly changed my life and has allowed me see how valuable life long learning is.

The amazing thing is - anyone can have the same journey I had but unfortunately many do not due to lack of funding or accessibility to technology. On September 25th, Rogers is holding Rogers Youth Education Day  to help fund mobile tech units across the country to help youth get the skills and experience they need to excel inside the classroom and beyond. These units will each contain 5 tablets, a Rocket™ mobile hotspot and LTE connectivity provided by Rogers and you can help make that happen.

Here's where my readers come in. Each tweet on September 25th (TODAY!) using #BrighterFuture or share of a photo on Rogers Facebook page will donate $1 towards these mobile tech units being brought across the country.  It doesn't matter where you are in the world, you can support this wonderful cause to help the youth of today succeed.

I've made it easy for you, click on this link to send out a tweet to donate $1! 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Gallbladders, Microtomy and an Upcoming Trip!


My first week of clinical is done! It was definitely a week of firsts. I am in Histology this month and went though the first few days shadowing the Lab Assistants to see the flow of work, how specimens are processed and received. It was nice to get eased into the work rather than thrown to the wolves in the first few minutes! Here are some noteworthy things I was able to do this week:

1) I grossed skin specimens (for the first time) for processing. It was interesting to learn about the different types of specimens and how they differ when being grossed. Excisions, shaves and punches all have different methods and needs. It also depends if there are stitches in the tissue or if they are suspecting melanoma. It might sound boring to the average person but it's amazing how much goes into making sure the appropriate samples are taken for diagnosis.

2) I got to cut open a gall bladder that was filled with a huge 25mm stone. The gall bladder was about 3X the size of a "typical" gallbladder and the person much have been in tremendous pain as there was also a stone lodged in the neck. Key note: It's important to make sure you squeeze all the bile out before cutting... it can get a bit messy.

3) I started microtomy this weekend. Yes, the dreaded microtomy... but you know what? Everything went well! The wax was good, the tissues were soft and the blades were sharp. I am a little rusty but I was able to cut 60 slides in just over 3 hours today on my 2nd day, which I was happy with. 90% of the blocks require serials with most being 3x so they are more time-consuming than a 1x block.  Apparently I have a static issue because a few of the ribbons were sticking to my hands so I need to figure out if I carry some kind of mystical charge that causes this issue. I had problems with static in my school's microtomy lab but figured it was just the environment... apparently it's me! Perhaps I will need to ground myself before cutting next time or I'll have to pick up one of those "ion" bracelelts.
Me plus static + wax= bad

Lastly, I was awarded a OneLab Travel Grant from the American Society of Clinical Pathology to attend the 2013 General Meeting in Chicago! I blogged about the conference earlier this year when they announced that Hillary Clinton will be the Keynote speaker and my dream to attend.  I applied for the grant on a whim thinking I wouldn't have a chance as a international member but I am thrilled I was selected!  I'll be missing a few days of my clinical for the conference as it's from Sept 18-21st, which is why I have been working at the lab this past weekend to make up time. It's worth giving up some of my weekends to have such a great opportunity. I'm really doing the conference circuit this year since I went to LabCon2013 in back in May.

If you want to follow along, I'll of course being tweeting using @MedLabMaven and @kurchenko. You can also follow the hashtag #ASCP13 on Twitter and Facebook. They will be livecasting some of the events so I recommend heading over to their Facebook page to see which ones you can catch!

Also, if you're going to be at the ASCP conference, feel free to reach out and perhaps we can connect!


Monday, 2 September 2013

Start of Clinical and General Thoughts

Tomorrow starts the first day of my Clinical Semester! I'm on the home stretch of my 2.5 years at Michener! I feel like I say this at the start of every semester but I can't believe the day is finally here.

Alcian Blue stained section

My first rotation is in Histology and I've been studying for the past few weeks to brush up on the mechanisms on staining and processing techniques - some of the things we weren't able to do in school. The nerves are starting to kick in, as I'm sure they would for anyone but I'm hoping everything will be easy transition tomorrow. I want to make the most of my clinical semester and hopefully I'll have some interested stories and cases to share throughout my time!

If you have any tips for my clinical semester, feel free to leave them in the comments. I'd love to hear from you!


Friday, 23 August 2013

Science of Cures tomorrow!

The day is almost here!

I will be doing my Science of Cures workshop at the Microsoft Store @ Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto. I'm excited to connect and teach young girls about scientific research and a little about what I do as a Medical Laboratory Science student.

Event on the City of Toronto website!
                                               Event on the City of Toronto website!

I arrived in Toronto earlier this evening to prep and to make sure I have everything ready for tomorrow. I moved to Ottawa earlier this month in preparation for my clinical semester at the hospitals in Ottawa for a little over 5 months. I'm very excited for the opportunity to learn and continue my education beyond the classroom.

Remember to bring your thinking caps tomorrow if you are coming to my workshop and if you have any questions feel free to bring those as well!


Friday, 9 August 2013

Rogers Raising the Grade Blogging 101

I had the honour of being invited to participate in a Google+ Hangout by Rogers Raising the Grade for The Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada about Blogging.

Rogers Raising the Grade has created technology centres across Canada that allow youth discover their interests, shape their career goals and plan for the future - something I complete support. They wanted to create a hangout that could be used to teach youth in their after-school program about blogging basics and how they can get started themselves.  Also in the hangout were other bloggers and teachers that asked me more questions about my blog and how I got started.

I was definitely a bit nervous since I knew it was being recorded to be shared across Canada but I believe it came out pretty well! Check out the video below if you want some tips on blogging and how I got started.

Thanks again to Rogers for including me in this great program!


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Final Business Card Decision!

After months of deliberation and discussion (as noted in this post), I was able to decide on a business card for me! I enlisted the help of my roommate to design and edit some graphics that would work for a scientist's card and have my card be memorable!


I love that she colour coordinated the back graphics in red, blue and yellow to match the simple line design on the front of the card.

I printed them using, which I highly recommend. The quality of paper, design and service is above and beyond what I ever expected. For 50 business card I paid $25 including shipping (I had a 10% off coupon) and I had them within 2 weeks. If you do some digging on the internet you usually can find a 10 - 15% discount to use on your order.

Also, if you don't have a designer friend you can use some of Moo's designs which are very modern and simple. I definitely would have had no problem using one of those if I needed to!

Let me know what you think of my business card!


Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Back To School: Agendas

Everyone needs an agenda for school, especially when you're in a high intensity program, to keep yourself organized. Here are some options to make your journey back to school a little easier and maybe a little bit more fun.
1.  Lilly Pulitzer Small Agenda [Here] - $17


2. Moleskine 18 Month Weekly Planner [here] - $14

3. Moleskine Star Wars 18 Month Weekly Planner [here] -$15

Another super durable Moleskine with a great design!

4. Monthly Academic Desk Calendar $7 - Staples

Keep it on your desk so you can stay organized while studying!

5. Mead Madrid Weekly Planner $7.49 - Staples

Cute size perfect for your bag or purse.

What are some of your back to school essentials? Have you started preparing to go back yet? I know I've been slowly collecting some new pens and binders to prepare myself before I go off to clinical as well as start studying for the CSMLS exam.


Sunday, 21 July 2013

Workshop for Girls interested in STEM + CONTEST!

As many of you know, I am a huge advocate for getting girls interested and involved in STEM careers. By chance, I found hEr_Volution on twitter one day in my daily twitter travels and was immediately interested in getting involved.

hEr_Volution ( a brand new organization in Toronto created to empower women in STEM and inspire the next generation of young women to consider a STEM career. They are currently putting on a great series of workshops in partnership with Microsoft Canada for young girls ages 5-14 with various STEM experts to spark that interest as well as raise money for the organization. Doina, the CEO invited me to present one of their upcoming workshops and I couldn't say no! (And no, I'm not calling myself an expert!)

Science of Cures EventBrite

I will be presenting "The Science of Cures" on August 24th, 2013 at 11:00am @ The Microsoft Store in Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto, ON. I'm going to be speaking about how Diseases work, how vaccines are researched and why they are important in the medical field. Tickets are available for purchase on the EventBrite Page but I thought I'd be great to run a contest on my blog for my readers as well.

Here's how it works - I have 2 tickets I will be giving away to the workshop. To enter, leave a comment below on who you'll be giving the ticket to and why they'd love to be there. Winner must be a youth under 18 years of age. You can also tweet about the giveaway and follow me on twitter for extra entries. I'll be drawing the winner on
August 10th. 
Giveaway extended until **August 14th!**

CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW to be taken to my rafflecopter give away! (I was having problems embedding the link)

[caption id="attachment_536" align="aligncenter" width="235"]Ticket Giveaway! Click me![/caption]

Hope to see you there!


Saturday, 20 July 2013

Answering your Questions - Part 1

I received this question on my account:

Could you give a rough estimate of first year costs for MLS ‎@Michener excluding tuition?

1. Textbooks - There is a fairly large list of textbooks to buy so I would hold off before purchasing some of them because it would probably be about $1000 for all. Also it depends on how you learn, I don't use textbooks often because I find I prefer looking up online resources and using the material from class but it is unavoidable for some courses. The U of T bookstore has all of the Michener textbooks so it's easy to go pick one up later in the week if you find you need one. There will also be tours during orientation that will take you to the bookstore.

I would recommend purchasing the Hematology Atlas ($50-60), the Histology Textbook (which is $250) and the Transfusion text-book ($120). I had previous textbooks from my Undergrad I used for the other courses but I am looking to purchase a lot of the books now to have handy when a working MLT and to study for the CSMLS exam so if you can afford it, try to buy all of them.

2. Lab Coat - You'll need a white, full length lab coat which will run you about $20-$30. Don't get anything too fancy because you'll be spilling various stains all over it.

3. CSMLS Student Membership - I would recommend signing up right away so you can have access to learning material, discounts and scholarships. It's $107 for 4 years which will cover you for your entire time at Michener and also give you a discount on the CSMLS exam when it comes time to register.

4. Printer - Invest in a printer because you will be printing off a LOT of notes. Almost all classes have PowerPoint presentations for each class that can be over 100 slides so get yourself a laser printer you can print notes off of easily. Also you'll be needing it for lab reports, assignments etc. If not, have a laptop you can easily take to class.

If you purchase everything, I would budget about $1200 for textbooks and supplies but that will cover you for every year as the textbooks don't change. If you want to keep it to the bare essentials, budget around $600. Good luck in September!

If you have anymore questions, feel free to email me or ask on my page!


Sunday, 7 July 2013

What is Medical Laboratory Science?

As shocking as this is, I realized I have not done a post on a question I get asked frequently - What is Medical Laboratory Science? What do you do?

There are many names for Medical Laboratory Scientists. In Canada, we are referred to as Medical Laboratory Technologists. In US, we can be called Clinical Laboratory Scientists and in the UK we can be called Biomedical Scientists. All of these are correct terms ad we are all certified to do the same thing.

What do we do?

Taken straight off the Wikipedia page "A healthcare professional who performs chemicalhematologicalimmunologicmicroscopic, and bacteriological diagnostic analyses on body fluids such as bloodurinesputumstoolcerebrospinal fluid (CSF), peritoneal fluid, pericardial fluid, and synovial fluid, as well as other specimens." In other words, any time a specimen is sent to "the lab", we are analyzing it.

We ensure results are accurate and reliable. Sources quote that up to 85% of patient diagnosis are made using lab tests so it is important for these results to be accurate to get the appropriate diagnosis. We know many ways results can be affected and what to expect in certain clinical conditions. We are also able to run expensive, sophisticated machinery and perform quality control to ensure the results are reliable.
Where can we practice?

As a technologist we are fully trained in 5 disciplines:

1) Clinical Chemistry - The study of chemicals in body fluids. This includes tests such as glucose, thyroid hormone levels, sweat chloride tests, liver enzyme panels, Serum protein electrophoresis for myelomas, and drug toxicology.

2) Hematology - Analysis of blood cells and specimens. Here this includes CBC (Complete Blood Counts) which are used to diagnosis leukemias, infections and anemias. We can also do body fluid counts, ESRs and coagulation tests.

3) Histology - The study of tissues. Tissue biopsies and specimens are processed and fixed, embedded in wax, cut into thin 4um sections on a microtome, dried in an oven then stained using various staining techniques. The slides are then given to the pathologist to analyze in cases such as autopsies, biopsies and consults.

4) Microbiology - Analysis of specimens for microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites). We process stool, urine, sputum, various swabs as well as analysis infection control specimens. We have knowledge of many types of bacteria, viruses and parasite that cause infections and what tests to run to identify them. We also perform antibiotic susceptibilities to ensure the bacteria will be susceptible for treatment.

5) Transfusion Medicine (Blood Bank) - Prepare blood and blood products for transfusion purposes. Here we do "type and screens" on patients and cross-match blood to give the correct type of blood for a patient. We also perform important antibody screens, which could cause a transfusion reaction if not identified.  These are quite a bit of work and can take hours, even days to properly confirm the presence of an antibody as well as possibly have special typed blood shipped in.

Are we regulated?

Yes. In Canada, the US and the UK we are required to write a certifying exam in order to be eligible to practice at a Medical Laboratory Scientist. This ensures the proper results are being produced, analyzed and sent out.

What is the difference between a Technologist and a Technician?

In Canada, a technologist is a regulated profession and can only be practiced by someone certified either through A) completing a college or university program and writing the certifying exam or b) from a prior learning assessment and writing the exam. Once someone has passed the board exam, they must register with their provincial body to practice as a technologist. Currently you can obtain a 4 year B.Sc in Medical Laboratory Science or an Advanced College Diploma of 2-3 years in length. Typically, the technologist is doing more complex analysis and knows the many factors to consider before releasing results as being correct and accurate.

A technician or assistant, can be someone who has completed a science degree, or anyone who has the desire to work in a laboratory. If they decide to attend a program they are usually 1 year in length. It is currently an unregulated profession but there is an exam you can write to become certified while it is currently not required, it is starting to become more popular. Generally, the technician does specimen procurement (phlebotomy), processing and pre-analytical procedures and does not do any analysis on results.

And now you are completed educated on what we do! Just kidding, there is a lot more to it but hopefully this gives you a little bit of insight into what us MLT's do and you can appreciate all the work that goes into your "lab work" the next time you have it done.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Coursera Review - Boost your learning and Join me!

I stumbled across Coursera during my internet travels looking for ways to study. As soon as I say they had a course on Patient Safety, I knew I should give it a shot not only for myself but so I could write about it on my blog! (Does this mean I'm slowly becoming a better blogger because I think about it? I hope so.) Not only is this a great way to boost a resume but it's a great way to boost yourself!

I am currently enrolled in The Science of Safety in Healthcare through Johns Hopkins University. It is put together by two professors who are very involved in the Medical School as well as the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality.  I never thought I'd be able to take a course through Johns Hopkins during my time in academia!  So far the content provided has been amazing - full of quality lectures and information about how to create positive change to better patient safety.

Now you're wondering how to get on Coursera? Here are the nitty-gritty facts....

What is Coursera?

Coursera is a FREE online learning website which currently has 300+ courses in over 20 categories from 62 universities in 16 countries.

What type of classes are there?

Dabble in Law? Constitutional Law through Yale University

You want to improve your public speaking? Have a look at this class from The University of Washington where you participate in interactive Google Hangouts

Looking for more information on Vaccine Trials? This course from Johns Hopkins would be perfect for that.

How long is each course? What is the work load?

It depends on the course selected but they seem to range from 5 weeks to 12 weeks and they also start at random times throughout the year. The current class I am in is 5 weeks in length and I usually put in about 1-2 hours a week in watching video lectures and taking notes. I've had a look at other classes and they ranges from 1-2 hours of work to 12-15 hours. I would recommend having a look at the course requirements before signing up (even if it is free) to make sure you can commit to that much work.

What kind of assignments are there? 

Again, it depends on the course. For my current course I had 1 quiz and 2 peer assessments. The two peer assessments involved me creating plans on based on a case study as well as analyzing faults in the healthcare system.

What's in it for me?

Along with having the opportunity to take a course on something you've always wanted to try, something you want to learn more about or to get that resume boost, you will get a certificate of completion at the end of the course if you receive a high enough grade on the assignments.

Another option is the "Signature Track" courses - These courses typically do cost money (anywhere from $30-$100) but are longer in length and will give you a Verified certificate of completion from the University/College. It's very technical and it records your typing motions, your photo and an ID document to make sure it's you. If you're interested in a signature track course, there is an interesting one on Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease for $39!
Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 11.07.13 PM

I am enrolled for my next course - Antimicrobial Stewardship: Optimization of Antibiotic Practices through Stanford University and would like to invite you to join me! Whether you're someone heading back to school and want to refresh for fall, someone in school wanting to expand your learning, someone working the field or someone just interested in learning more - I encourage you to sign up! I picked a low commitment course so you can ease your way in and see if it's something you like.

  • Course starts September, 2013

  • 5 weeks in length

  • Course commitment - 1 to 2 hours/ week

I'll be blogging about the course every week and want you to be involved in the conversation as well. Comment below or email me so we can all be study buddies :) If this that catches on, maybe we can do this more frequently!


Friday, 21 June 2013

Can Science Be Cool?

Is it possible to have science extend out to people in the "non-science" world and for them to be interested in it? This is a question I ask myself often and was one of the reasons I started this blog. I wanted to make science more attainable and help broaden the knowledge of general science and medical laboratory science within the general public. But where is the hook? How is it possible to get people excited about how why their blood sugar is collect and why this is imported to their results?

I am the first person in my family and extended family to get a science degree and stay within the scientific field. I often wonder if they really understand what I do and if I can convey how interesting and "cool" science and healthcare can be. I think, in general, most people understand that they go to the doctor and a bunch of tests happen but I think compared to something like art or music, the learning curve can be steep to truly appreciate what is done.

I don't really know the purpose of this post but I mostly wanted to put my thoughts out there and say I'm open to conversations with anyone and everyone about what I do and how something might be the way it is. I know it can seem scary if you don't have a science background but I want to help you understand and spark that curiosity in the scientific world. Ask questions. Be curious. Be brave. I know that some scientists can give science a bad reputation being condescending or unreachable due to their supposed "smarts", but we are really losing out on the support of the non-science community and keeping science from reaching a broader audience.

I love what I do and I am incredibly passionate about reaching out to help make science something anyone can understand, even if it's just a small part. You always have to start somewhere.


Monday, 10 June 2013

BlackBerry Scholars - STEM Scholarships for Women

BlackBerry Scholars just launched a new program that awards full scholarships to women heading into their first year of university/college in a STEM field.

What's a STEM Field?

STEM is anything in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics 

As someone who is educated in a STEM field, I am a huge advocate for supporting women who want to pursue an education and I commend BlackBerry for being active in supporting this. I was interested in science at a young age and I am thankful my parents and educators fostered that spark and allowed me to pursue my desire to be in science. Too often, that spark fades and women feel they are inadequate or can't compete in a male-centered profession.

I highly encourage any woman thinking about pursuing science at a higher level of education to not only apply for this scholarship, but to continue to purse their passion and pave the way for future generations of women in STEM careers.
BlackBerry Scholars:

The BlackBerry® Scholars Program is a global four-year scholarship program for outstanding women entering their first year of undergraduate study at an accredited college or university. The Program is designed to help increase the number of women studying and influencing the future of mobile computing, including Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, and particularly those with an interest and/or aptitude in the mobile computing space.

Women who will be entering their first year of study in the 2013-2014 academic year and are interested in this scholarship may apply for the Program by 5pm EST on the June 26th, 2013 application deadline.

And Sometimes You Need More LinkedIn Links...

Since I am not an "expert" in the field of LinkedIn, I felt it was necessary to follow-up my last post with some other articles about how to manage your LinkedIn profile as a new grad. LinkedIn can be a scary thing to dive into and I know for myself, I always find it helpful to have more resources available!

Where to start - at LinkedIn University! Links to presentations, notes and slides on how to get started.

From the LinkedIn Blog: "Three Ways Recent Grads Can Leverage LinkedIn for Long-Term Success"

The Undercover Recruiter talks about how College students can use LinkedIn

And after you've made that connection on LinkedIn: How do you keep in touch with someone when you don't really have news to share?

If you've made your LinkedIn profile since my last post, let me know how it went! I've also recently added my blog to bloglovin' where you can follow me along with your favourite fashion/food blogs. I feel like the lone science blog there!


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

What to means to be a powerful woman...

Approaching and befriending women who I identify as smart and powerful (sometimes actively pursuing them, as with any other crush) has been a major revelation of my adult life. First, there’s the associative property of awesomeness: People know you by the company you keep. I like knowing that my friends are so professionally supportive that when they get a promotion, it’s like a boost for my résumé, too, because we share a network and don’t compete for contacts. Also, it’s just plain tough out there — for all the aforementioned reasons about the economy and the dating scene and body-image pressures. I want the strongest, happiest, smartest women in my corner, pushing me to negotiate for more money, telling me to drop men who make me feel bad about myself, and responding to my outfit selfies from a place of love and stylishness, not competition and body-snarking.

-Excerpt from Shine Theory: Why Powerful Women Make Great Friends from

This quote is tacked to my wall and will serve as some inspiration for what I want in life. Do not be afraid to be powerful ladies!

Monday, 3 June 2013

LinkedIn: The Hows and Whys

Being the social media ~*Queen*~ I am, I jumped on the LinkedIn train right from the start. I saw the potential in it to be a great networking tool for new grads as well as current professionals to connect and collaborate.

I've had a few people ask me - Why should I sign up? It's just another social media fad!

Answer: Even if it does turn out to be a fad (unlikely), it will take you maybe 30 minutes to create a great profile you can use to network and explore. Another benefit is if you have a recognizable name you can have help "control" what is found about you. Creating a LinkedIn profile will push that link to the top when you are searched so they will see your professional profile instead of possible other less desirable links.

Here are some tips for creating your own LinkedIn Profile:

1. Pick a Recognizable Tag Line

This is a key to what people will see if they search your name. Pick something that you want associated with your name right now. If you're a student in clinical - mention that. If you're working in a doctor's office - mention that. Whatever you choose, make sure it's something that will draw people to your profile. I am currently (only for a few more months) the President of our Student Society, so I mentioned that.


2. A Clear Photo!

Do not use photos of you at a bar, club, playing soccer (unless you are looking to be recruited for a soccer team?) etc. Pick something clear and professional that shows your face. It does not have to be perfect or professionally taken but try to pick something that you like. and wouldn't mind someone seeing. People like to see that this text profile/resume belongs to a real person! (you can see my photo I use in the above point).

3. Select Carefully

You don't have to put every.single.job. that you've ever worked on your LinkedIn. Select the important ones or ones you found valuable. It's just like creating a resume - you don't want it so long that people have to put aside an afternoon to read it. I selected jobs I worked at for a long period of time (at least 1 year) or where I had significant responsibility that would carry over to another position.

4. Brag

What's nice about LinkedIn is you have the opportunity to brag about your qualifications more as well as explain things more in-depth than you would on a resume. Take the space to highlight your experiences in school or at your job and how that would carry forward. You won an award? Talk about how special you are for winning it! You did some amazing volunteering? Talk about what you did to improve that after school program/workflow/project.

5. Create a Custom URL

You can edit the long number/letter URL you receive when you first start your profile to make it a short custom one you can attach to emails, business cards or tweet. Click edit on your profile page and a tiny blue edit should show up next to your current URL:

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 9.19.18 PM

Click this button and you should be brought to what your public page looks like. If you scroll down on the right hand side there will be a "Your Public Profile URL" banner where you can edit your URL To something more customized. Use something like "FIRSTNAME.LASTNAME" or "INITIALFULLLASTNAME". Do not use "Sugarbabyx0123" or "scienceluverxxx"....

6. Keep Your Profile Updated

Spend a few minutes every week to check in your profile, see who has visited and tweak anything you might have noticed while browsing other profiles. I got a lot of my inspiration looking at other LinkedIn user's profiles so I recommend connecting with users and seeing how they have their info laid out!

7. Connect to relevent Groups

There are tons of groups for every profession on the planet. Find some relevant to your selected profession and connect. They often have job postings, news on the field, free conferences or scholarships you can be a part of. If you're looking for some for Med Lab Science I would recommend checking out: MLO - Medical Laboratory Observer, ASCP - American Society for Clinical Pathology and American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science.

You can also connect with companies directly such as Gamma-Dynacare, St.Michael's Hospital, Alpha Labs etc. Just search them and select "Follow".

Hope these tips help you out and feel free to send me an email at if you want to connect on LinkedIn!


Friday, 31 May 2013

Google Doodle Celebrating Julius Richard Petri's Birthday

Google Doodle from May 31st, 2013
                                                    Google Doodle from May 31st, 2013

If you haven't had a chance yet, head over to Google and check out today's Google Doodle! They have made the wise decision to celebrate Julius Richard Petri's 161st birthday - the inventor of the petri dish! I get so excited anytime I see something about microbiology feature in the news and for it to be featured on the front page of Google is amazing!

Hit the play button and you'll be able to see some cultures from household items and can click to learn more!


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

LabCon2013: Day Two

After the success of day one, I was looking forward to the start of day two.

We started with a plenary session on "Advocacy: Extreme Makeover edition" to learn about what the CSMLS is doing to help promote our profession as well as what we can do to help advocate in our provinces. It was a very interactive session including dancing (!) and breaking into small groups to create our own message and how we would achieve it.

Our group's idea focused on the looming shortage of MLTs in New Brunswick and also the job cuts to senior experienced techs. There needs to be a balance of new grads who can take over the more skilled positions and experts to train them. We wanted to create a campaign about bringing new grads to New Brunswick by offering some loan forgiveness by the government or an informational campaign. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to share our ideas but I think it really sparked something in a lot of members as I heard these discussions continuing throughout the day.

After this I headed to my first session on Flow Cytometry to learn about how it is being used in the lab. I do have some background in flow cytometry but it was great to listen to an expert talk about how it is used to discover chronic leukemias, hairy cell leukemia etc. It is a complicated procedure so I'll spare you with the details but I had fun looking at the case studies and realizing I know a lot of it!

Second session was "Defining our Next Generation of MLTs". I felt like I was cheating a bit since I am the next generation but I wanted to get a sense of what workplaces are looking for in a new grad before I head out into the field. There were a lot of great discussions and ideas flowing throughout the room and I enjoyed getting to know some of the experts currently working.

The night ended with the President's Reception in the Palm Room at the Fairmont Empress followed by a private tour of the Royal BC Museum. Such a creative and unique twist on a typical "reception"! I loved getting to see the beautiful exhibits while socializing. There was also a rumour that a few people might have set off some alarms trying attempting to ride this giant seal sculpture.... it may have crossed my mind as well. :o)



Saturday, 11 May 2013

LabCon2013: Day One

Day One of LabCon is complete! I am completely exhausted and jet lagged (yes, I know it is only a 3 hour time difference) but the day was so exciting and inspiring.

The day started off with a "first timers" orientation, which was great to know what to expect and meet other people in the same situation as myself. I also received a nice collection of badges to attach to my lanyard so people could easily identify me as a newbie :)

After this, was a light breakfast and time to browse the various exhibitors set up in the hall. As a student with limited exposure to some of the larger analyzers and POCT (point of care) devices, it was interesting to see what I can expect in the hospital and what is the latest in the field.

Today's theme seemed to revolve around leadership and what you can do to improve work place collaboration. I also attended a session on "Followership" and how being a good follower is just as important as a good leader. This is an upcoming hot topic is business as people are beginning to realize there are different types of followers and these followers are what make a leader "great". The session focused on these different types and how to adapt to their style and help them achieve their potential. There are numerous recently published books on it such as this one.

My final session of the day was to "Mind the Gap" on QC by Zoe Brooks from Many of us have experience using QC charts and analyzing the results but Zoe exposed many of the issues with current QC methods and how we can adapt and change them for the future. I think challenging rules and the "status quo" can be necessary to ensure things continue to grow and evolve.

The night ended with the Exhibitors reception with more time to spend speaking with exhibitors and fellow attendees while enjoying refreshments (and grabbing swag!) I'm hoping to go back and snag a mini eppendorf pipette pen tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a full day with 4 sessions as well as a plenary on Advocacy and the President's Reception at night!

Were you at LabCon? What was your favourite part of Day 1?


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Hillary Clinton at 2013 ASCP General Meeting

It was just announced that Hillary Rodham Clinton (Former Secretary of State/Former Senator/Text From Hillary) will be the Keynote Speaker at the 2013 American Society for Clinical Pathology annual meeting in Chicago from September 18th -21st.

I would LOVE to attend this conference, not only to see Hillary Clinton, but to take part in the discussion and educational sessions. It is quite costly ($599 for members, $999 for non-members) so it doesn't look like I will be making my dream a reality but I'd love to pass on the information to my readers! Let me know if any of you plan on attending in the comments.

More information is available on the ASCP website

Speaking of conferences, I'm off to LabCon2013 tomorrow in Victoria, BC! Stay tuned for updates and daily summaries by subscribing or adding me to your RSS feed.


Monday, 6 May 2013

News: Endogenous antibiotic discovered in the brain

Endogenous antibiotic discovered in the brain.
May 6, 2013 — Scientists from the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg have discovered that immune cells in the brain can produce a substance that prevents bacterial growth: namely itaconic acid.

Scientists have possibly discovered a new antibiotic present in WBC in the brain. It's amazing what our body can do and that we are still discovering new parts to it every day.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Med Lab Week - What We Did

As some of you may know, I am the President of the Med Lab Students' Society at my College this year. As part of our society message, I wanted to increase the awareness about the Medical Laboratory Sciences program as well promote our profession. As a society, we decided to move up Med Lab Week from April 28th - May 3rd to March 25-28th so we could interact with students and faculty before exams rolled around.

We had a full week planned including a blood drive and other fun interactive activities as well as an information table with CSMLS gear to hand out.

CSI Michener - This was our interactive lab station where students and staff had the opportunity to be a "Lab Technologist for a day" and solve a patient case that took them through all 5 disciplines.

We created a patient case involving a patient, Ivana Solveit, who was going in for a liver transplant. The participants had to type their blood (using QC cells), identify a cirrhotic liver under the microscope as well as look at a liver we had grossed and look at a blood film and pick the most likely smear from the patient. Our patient then was suspected to have a UTI from their catheter so the participants looked at a C&S, which included plate media and an API strip and then look at an automated urinalysis result.

Microbiology station for CSI Michener
Microbiology Station for CSI Michener

Swab It! -  For $2, staff and students could have their phone, shoe, purse, computer etc swabbed and plated on to Blood Agar to see what grew! They received a high-resolution photo of their swab results the next day (often this was more than enough time for some of the swabs we did!). We had some very interesting ones including someone's hand after they had just gotten off the subway, a credit card and some cell phones with a few questionable bacteria present! We had a lot of interest in this activity and many people who didn't end up having anything swabbed came to discuss the process of identifying bacteria and if they could have an alcohol wipe to clean their phone after seeing the photos :o)

One of the phone results from Swab it!
One of the phone results from Swab It!
Blood Drive - In partnership with Canadian Blood Services we held a blood drive on March 27th and 28th prior to the Easter long weekend. Laboratory Technologists are a key part of Transfusion Medicine so we know how important blood donation is. We felt it was a perfect time to hold a blood drive during our Med Lab Week for this reason. A "What's Your Type" blood clinic was set up on the Wednesday to allow students and staff to find out their blood type or ask more questions about the donation process. In the two days we had 38 students donate blood, which helped CBS top their goals for the week!

I truly believe our advocacy efforts helped get other non-laboratory professionals excited and interested in our profession. Hopefully this might inspire you to do something great for National Med Lab Week! Check out or, if you're a member, to spread your advocacy message so Laboratory Professionals can get the attention we deserve.


Saturday, 27 April 2013

End of Semester Wrap-Up


I have finished my last didactic semester at Michener! Overall this was one of the most interesting semesters of my program due to the fact we were left alone a bit more to figure things out ourselves. Here is a breakdown of what we covered this semester:

Chemistry - Chemistry and I were good friends this semester. I have to say, I really liked the respiratory (blood gases) and urinalysis units, which are some of the largest and most used units in practice. Chemistry is less memorization and more "understanding" so it can be tough to grasp for some people. In our Urinalysis unit we got to use actual samples rather than the simulated specimens we typically use. Let me tell you, some of those urines were smelly especially because a lot of them had been sitting for a while. We got to see a variety of specimens but I've never seen people so excited when a classmate found sperm in their sample.

Hematology - Definitely the most challenging hematology course I've had so far due to the dreaded White Blood Cell Morphology. It's funny to look back to first year when we were looking at some of these slides for RBC morphology and had no idea we were also looking at a CML or AML - M4. It was a bit of a struggle for me at first and I spent a lot of extra time looking at slides but ended up getting the hang of it in the end! I still have  a lot to learn and I am looking forward to simulation clinical and clinical where I can continue to better my skills.
Hi, I'm a blast and sometimes my nucleoli won't be this noticeable!

Histotechnology - If there is one course subject I don't get along with, it's histology. I don't know what it is but microtomy is usually the bane of my existence. This year, I had a microtomy awakening and was able to get my cutting up to 20 blocks in 3 hours. Anyone who works in histology is probably laughing right now saying they cut 100/hr but I am proud I was able to get up to speed! I really enjoyed the special staining portion of the lab because it was more chemistry related and I could understand why we used each stain.

Added bonus - no one sliced off any body parts during our microtomy labs.

Microbiology - Having a degree in Microbiology, it's a bit unfair for me to say Microbiology is my favourite course but well, it is. I like the detective work involved and being able to eliminate organisms based on the testing you do.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa on blood agar. It can show a metallic sheen = cool
We had a lot of variation this semester as we covered urinary, reproductive, respiratory and stool specimens. I don't think I had a favourite unit but I enjoyed working with respiratory specimens and doing sputum screens. My favourite organism is Pseudomonas aeruginosa (yes, I am weird, I have a favourite bacterium) which is commonly isolated in wound cultures and respiratory specimens in Cystic fibrosis patients, so I've had a chance to work with it a lot.

Transfusion Science - This was a small course this semester covering blood products and why we use them. It definitely helped to give me a greater appreciation for blood donation, collection and preparation in Canada. The quality of products available here is remarkable and has come along way since the Krever Commission (also here) in 1997. I did a group project on blood products used to treat Hemophilia A and Acquired Hemophilia A as well as a project on a mock massive transfusion, which was great to understand how products are selected for transfusion.

Overall, great semester! I'm excited to head to simulation clinical where I will "work" 3 days a week (4 days for Chemistry) and will be assigned to a bench to run each day - similar to an actual clinical site. Now just trying to decide if I should buy scrubs or not....

How was your semester?


Monday, 22 April 2013

Two Exams Remaining!

I am so incredibly close to be finished exams for the semester! I have already written Hematology, Microbiology and just finished Clinical Chemistry today. Next up is my Histology special staining practical tomorrow and my final exam is Transfusion Practices on Thursday.

I am so happy to be almost done and to be heading into our Simulation Clinical this summer. Simulation Clinical is set up in our labs at Michener and we run a "mini-hospital" where we can get hands-on experience before we head out to Clinical placements!

LabCon2013 is also just around the corner from May 11-13th in Victoria, BC, which I will be attending thanks to a Grant from the CSMLS! If you are attending, leave a comment so we can meet.  I'm excited to see what's happening in the field and what is on the horizon along with being able to interact with fellow Laboratory Professionals. I'm also excited to see Victoria as that is one of the few areas of the country I haven't visited yet.

See you there!


Monday, 15 April 2013

General Michener MMI Tips for 2013

I did a number of posts last year about the MMIs and how to prepare for them. Check out this category and you can access them all!

I did decide to do a little refresher post from my experience when I went through the MMIs for this year and any points I might have missed. Again, I cannot discuss the questions asked but I can provide you with some overall tips!

1) Breathe

This seems like the simplest tip but really, Breathe. You've already made it to the MMIs which means you were short-listed out of a number of candidates - amazing! All you have to do is show your ability to be a great person. Take a deep breath before you start and before you go into a room to calm yourself and try to enjoy the experience. (Don't be too loud as there are other people standing near you!) This is your opportunity to show your cognitive skills!

2) Read the question

Seems simple but read the question and decide what you're going to talk about before entering the room. If it's an opinion statement try to think of both sides of the story so you can have a better all around concept and can be prepared to go in a different direction if needed. A lot of times the question/statement will guide you in what they are looking for or what direction you should go in.  Pick out the keywords and what you need to focus on. Not reading the question can waste valuable response time!

3) Forget about it.

If you feel like you had a bad station/question try to clear your mind and move on! There are many more stations for you to prove yourself and to make up for that one bad one. One or two questions should not make or break you and having a positive attitude will help you be successful in other stations. If you have a rest station - REST. Try not to over-analyze what just happened and give yourself a break. This will keep your mind fresh and let you keep your spirits up.

I found another helpful link from the University of Manitoba on MMIs which should help with some quesitons you might have:

Congrats to all that received interview invitations and I wish you all the best!


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Our Focus is You!

National Med Lab Week is coming up at the end of April (28th to May 4th) and the CSMLS (@CSMLS) has put together a great site for people who are curious about Medical Laboratory Science! You can interact with some of the things we do as MLTs as well as information about why we are so essential to the Health Care System.

Hint: There is even a mention of my home province in the questions!

Check out today!

We are currently holding our own make-shift Med Lab Week at my school this week so we can promote our profession to other students and staff since the actual NMLW falls during exam time. We have our own "CSI Michener" case that participants can "solve" and try out the many disciplines that are a part of being a MLT.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

MedLabMaven: Ask Me Anything!

I wanted to make my blog more accessible for people who might be nervous or embarrassed to send me an email with their name attached.

Ask me anything Anonymously through my link:

If you have questions about studying, admissions, what a Med Lab Scientist is, how did I get into this etc, please feel free to ask and I'll post any questions I think would be great on this blog as well as answer them on the page.

Also, I feel like I should haven't to mention this but please keep it kind :)


Saturday, 23 March 2013

How College is different from University

I help with tours at my school frequently and this has to be one of the most common questions I get. How is the workload? How are you graded? I decided to do a comprehensive post that will hopefully prepare you for the shift to a Med Lab college program!

As someone who went to University for 4 years, moving to college was a strange transition. I was used to being evaluated twice, once at midterm time and once during finals with a few lab reports in between. Exams in university are generally weighted much higher ( around 50% of your grade) and the lab component a measly 15-20%.  My experience has been vastly different in a college program. I usually have 3 term tests with a group project or assignment which makes up 50% of my grade. The other 50% is lab evaluations, reports, quizzes and the like.

What do you like better? I actually much prefer the college method. It makes you stay on top of your theory, which you need for the lab anyways. I also find it divides up the information into more manageable chunks for you to study and retain. Another benefit of having smaller section tests, is that if you don't do as well as you would have liked, you can make it up on another. Not doing well on one assignment isn't going to set you back unlike university where if you bomb the midterm, that's pretty much it for your grade.

How is the schedule?  Yes, the schedule is intense. You are in labs for 15-20 hours a week which can be a bit overwhelming but that is what you will end up doing once you graduate.  You can't pick when you come to school or doing weekend classes etc but it's not unmanageable.  They set up the timetable in the best way possible and you generally (at least in my experience) will have an afternoon or morning off from time to time.

Do you have homework?  Short answer - Yes. Not all courses will have explicit "homework" but you will have to study to prepare yourself for labs and quizzes. I'm studying much more frequently that I did in University because you are being tested and evaluated all the time. In terms of assignments - I get a lot of lab reports and assignments in Chemistry and Microbiology since we have to do correlations and take time to do. Other labs, you do the lab reports in the lab time and hand it in at the end. You also will get online quizzes or group work and presentations you will need to coordinate and do.

Can you work while you go to school? It really depends on the person. I personally do work about 10-15 hours a week in addition to doing volunteering and society work at school. For me, I like to keep busy because it helps me manage my time better. When I wasn't working, I found I kept putting things off until the last-minute. Again, you know yourself better than I would so judge what you feel would be manageable for you. I would NOT recommend working full-time or even close to that unless you have a good arrangement and you can study at work.

Can I take electives?  At Michener, no. It's possible at other colleges but I can't speak to that. Your schedule is determined for you and you can't select courses. Everything you take will be lab related or the select research/interprofessional courses.

What if I fail a course? Unlike University, you can't make it up or retake unless you wait a full year. In other words, if you fail you will be held back. This aspect sucks but the professors work hard to help you as best they can. The professors will know you by name and are invested in your success! Typically in university, they are a little less invested and don't know you by name if you are in a big class. Sometimes this is nice because you might not feel as much pressure but if you aren't doing as well, it's your responsibility to get the help you need.

College is a change no matter if you're coming from High School or University, but I believe there are a lot of positives associated with it!


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

I am the Pee Queen....

At the end of our 4 weeks of Urinalysis labs, my Clinical Chemistry professor presented us with certificates announcing us "Pee Queen" or "Pee King". It was such a cute gesture and makes those 4 hard weeks of Clinitests, Microscopic analysis and SSA Tests worth it! :)

I am a Pee Queen!

The certificate is proudly displayed on my fridge and will be a great conversation piece for visitors!


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Quick Review Cards - A Review

I purchased the much famed Quick Review Cards for Clinical Laboratory Science Examinations from Amazon in January and I've been waiting to do a review until I had the chance to properly use them. These cards were recommended by a few of my professors who still use them when they need a refresher as well as past students who used this as their sole study material for the CSMLS (and they passed).
Copyright MedLabMaven

The card size are the equivalent to 5x7 inches, a bit larger than what I was expecting. I normally use the small 3X5 card stock index cards that most people use and it wasn't really conveyed in the amazon ad.  The cards themselves are printed on plain paper (not cardstock) so I'm currently planning on getting some photo album sheet protectors and keeping them safe in a binder to prevent any damage.

A positive was the sheer amount of information and cards in this set! It says 300 pages but there are 538 "sides"  and I would say around 300 actual cards! When you open the first few cards, you see there is a table fo contents to help you sort through the cards easily and find the section you are looking for.
Copyright MedLabMaven

The information for each section is neatly organized in tables and chart for that will serve as a great refresher. I have been recommended by many other people who purchased these cards and used them to study for the CSMLS exam to beef them up with more information and specifics. Again, most of what is contained on these cards are the general ideas and key things you need to know.  A little bit more information on something that isn't covered well or a new technique can easily be added on the back of most cards or along the bottom.  The past students recommended bring them to clinical or labs to have as a guide while you are working and so you can fill in more information.
Copyright MedLabMaven

Here is an example of how the cards look in the Clinical Chemistry Section. As you can see they are nicely organized with information on reference ranges and why these electrolytes could be elevated or decreased. This is one of the more complete sections and I really liked having it while studying for exams as it triggered my thinking!

Unfortunately, there is no histology section included with these so you will have to make your own study cards for that section. Hopefully they look to include that in a future edition. Also, because these cards more geared towards the American exams, there is a section on bill coding and lab management which isn't terribly useful for Canadians. I would say there are about 20-30 cards that are not useful for CSMLS exam writers but I would still highly recommend these cards!

Let me know if you purchase the Quick Review Cards for Clinical Laboratory Science and what you think in the comments below!


Friday, 8 March 2013

What's in a Scientist's Business Card?

I’m coming to a point where I feel like getting a set of business card would be very helpful for me. As most of you know, I’m heading to a conference at the start of May with plenty of networking events and as an upcoming new graduate – I’m hoping to make some great connections.

But as a student and a scientist, what should go on a business card? I have a prior degree (B.Sc Microbiology) I’d like to mention along with my current program and graduation date. I also was considering my LinkedIn profile, email, phone number and location. Is this too much for a business card? I don’t want it to be overwhelming but I also do not want to leave important information out!

The idea of having business cards in science is a little foreign. You generally don't have a situation where business cards would typically be given out or needed unless you are in sales or media. How do you market your scientific qualifications on a tiny square of paper!

If you were someone receiving a student’s card, what would you want to see - A simple card or something with a bit more info so you can remember me? I can see both as options but want to get some options.

Let me know in the comments, I’m looking for some help!


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

WorldWideWednesday - ASCP Podcast

The American Society for Clinical Pathology  recently launched their first podcast featuring Dr.Huy Pham speaking about TRALI or Transfusion associated lung injury.

TRALI is a serious complication from a blood transfusion that typically occurs within 6 hours of a transfusion occurring  It is one of the most common causes of blood transfusion fatalities in the United States and Canada. Being aware of this reaction is important for anyone working in Health Care so it can be treated quickly and properly to prevent a fatality.

I recommend heading on over to the ASCP Podcast and have a listen!


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Speaker Sessions - Tips and Tricks for Clinical

We had a few Alumni come in to our school to speak about their experience during clinical practicum as well as their current job. It was interesting to hear their tips about getting a job, how to get there and what to know for the CSMLS. I thought I would share some of the tips and tricks they mentioned at the talk.

1. Study each discipline at the same time you are doing it in clinical (IE: Chemistry notes in Chemistry).

A lot of the speakers mentioned that the teaching techs would often give you tips about the CSMLS exam and some ideas about what you should focus on. It also helps you prepare for your time in clinical so you can get the most out of it and know what you are doing. Showing that you have prepared for your time and understand the concepts only makes you look better and opens up the possibility for employment in the future. Being able to physically do the testing and analysis at the same time you are studying the theory can also help drive home the facts and help you retain the information better.

2. Keep in contact with your clinical managers and supervisors.

A simple thank you email or note at the end of your time at your clinical placement goes a long way and helps to keep you fresh in their mind if a position comes up. A few of the speakers mentioned they had kept in contact with their supervisors and let them know when they wrote the exam and how it went and then followed up after they got their results back. This led to them having a general interview, even if a position wasn't currently available and they had first pick it something came up.

3. Condense your notes and don't worry about every minor detail.

The CSMLS exam is terrifying to think about for most people. 500+ questions in one sitting about a variety of categories gets my heart racing even thinking about it! The best tip the speakers gave was to create a more focused set of notes and look at the "overall theme" of the topic to see if you understand it. Example - Liver Enzymes - Do you know all of the testable ones and what they test for? If you do, you are probably safe to move on. If you feel like you are missing some key information, go over your notes and spend time looking at the details, so you can grasp the concepts. It's hard to focus on every nitpick-y thing that could be on the exam and the speakers mentioned that a few of their classmates were pretty burnt out by the time the exam rolled around. If you have a functional knowledge of things you can generally reason your way through most questions you could be stuck on.

A bit about what's going on with me -  I am absolutely insanely busy right now planning a few events for my program, studying for midterms and trying to maintain a normal diet/sleep cycle (which is proving to be a lot harder than you think). I came home from classes today and fell asleep for a 2 hour nap at 8pm! I'm hoping that I'll  have a little bit of time this weekend to sleep in amidst all of the studying and planning.

These were just a few of the great tips mentioned by the speakers and I will have a few more coming in the upcoming weeks!


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Catching up and a mention in CJMLS!

I am currently on Reading Week, taking a nice and very  much-needed break from school. It is my last didactic semester so it's coming down to crunch time! By the end of April, I will have covered all the essentials I will need to be a successful laboratory professional!

Also, I wanted to post about the great mention I received in the latest Canadian Journal of Medical Laboratory Sciences. Thank you to the CSMLS for the support and showing that yes, the next generation of lab professionals ARE passionate about our profession!

CSMLS Journal Feature

Excerpt from Canadian Journal of Medical Laboratory Sciences Volume 74 No 4. Page 6.


Thursday, 14 February 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm thinking S.aureus on a Mueller-Hinton plate?

Thanks to my friend Jennifer for the adorable Valentine's Day Card! -K

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Bio Design in the Home - The Beauty of Bacteria

Bio Design in the Home - The Beauty of Bacteria -

Interesting take on how Pantone's new colour for 2013 "Emerald" is being used by designers by incorporating bacterial cultures into chandeliers and furniture.
Consider Bacterioptica, a chandelier designed by Petia Morozov of Montclair, N.J., with petri dishes loaded with bacterial cultures nesting in a tangle of fiber optics. The pattern and color of the blooming bacteria (ideally supplied by individual family members, including pets) changes the quality of the light.

Other furniture has been model based on bone structure and DNA models.

I'm not sure how practical this is for someone's home , but it's definitely and interesting idea!