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!