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 OurFocusIsYou.ca 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 Ask.fm link: http://ask.fm/MedLabMaven

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 ask.fm 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!