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!