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!



  1. I would like to add an additional tip for students during their clinical rotation....treat it as a year long job interview. Your professional (or unprofessional) attitude will be remembered longer than your technical skills. Technical skills can be taught, professional attitude can't. You will be remembered for one of two reasons...you were either really good or really bad. Make sure you end up on the good side. The lab community is very small and word travels fast. Poor or unprofessional attitudes are passed quickly amongst the lab community and make it very difficult to find a job after graduation.


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