Medical Laboratory Technologist

Job description

Medical Laboratory Technologists provide medical laboratory data used in the treatment and diagnosis of surgical and medical conditions in detachments and clinics, as well as in combat and operational units.

They must perform their duties according to established protocols, safety guidelines and existing legislation at all times. Their duties include:

  • Collecting and preparing biological specimens for analysis
  • Performing routine and specialized analyses
  • Validating test results
  • Perform analytical techniques on specimens that originate from a variety of sources
  • Practice and promote the principles of quality and resource management

 

 

Transcript

Medical Laboratory Technologist

PETTY OFFICER 2ND CLASS LAURA GAULDEN:  I’m Petty Officer 2nd Class Laura Gaulden from The Pas, Manitoba.  I’m a Medical Laboratory Technologist posted to Edmonton Garrison.

CORPORAL JAIME DeMERCHANT: And I’m Corporal Jaime DeMerchant from Florenceville, New Brunswick, a Medical Laboratory Technologist at Canadian Forces Base Halifax.

GAULDEN: As part of the Canadian Forces Health Services team, Med Lab Techs can be called on to perform routine and emergency specimen collection and analysis at any time, anywhere in the world that the mission of the Forces takes us.

GAULDEN: About 85 per cent of all medical diagnoses are based on blood work, urine samples, and other lab results.

DeMERCHANT: In a normal day, we do some chemistry, which is a lot of our testing – chemistry and haematology here, because everybody comes in for medicals.  So we do their lipids and their liver and their electrolytes.  And in haematology, we check your blood to make sure your white blood cells are normal and your red blood cells are normal.

GAULDEN: In our lab, we have basic haematology, chemistry, serology and urinalysis.  Some of the big hospitals, you work in one specific area, but here in the Forces, we definitely do a little bit of everything.

DeMERCHANT: Med Lab Techs spend most of our time working in one of the Forces’ ten medical facilities in Canada.  But we’re always ready to deploy at any moment with a Field Hospital or Medical Detachment.

GAULDEN: It could be a humanitarian relief mission at the scene of a natural disaster or the round-the-clock tension and drama of battlefield trauma care in a conflict situation.

DeMERCHANT: In a military setting – and especially in field trauma settings – our skills really become critical. And typically, Med Lab Techs are also in charge of the blood bank in those situations.

GAULDEN: Blood bank is really intense and super exciting for us.  We do a variety of tests and then we’ll find units that we have stored and make sure those units are compatible before transfusing the patients.

DeMERCHANT: In the Forces, Lab Techs are a vital part of the Health Services team.  

DeMERCHANT: And also, being in the military, you get to travel, you go on tours.  I got to go to a parasitology course, I got to do the field hospital portion.  And I’m sure there’s many more opportunities to come, and it’s kind of exciting.

GAULDEN:  And there’s another great option that the Forces offer: part-time service as a Medical Laboratory Technologist with the Health Services Reserves.

MODULE 2 – What’s cool about the job

GAULDEN: I’d say the coolest part of the job is just being in a team environment and kind of helping find issues that are wrong with patients, and try to aid in the diagnosis.

DeMERCHANT: When I went to the Connaught Ranges and I got to work in the field hospital – you come together as a group, you get to know what everybody else does, you get to see what medics do, you get to see what nurses do, and doctors.  And it kind of puts in perspective a whole of what you do as a job.

GAULDEN: When I was over there in Afghanistan, we actually brought the results right to the nurses.  Or in the cases where they’re still in the trauma base, we take the results right to the doctors. We’re very proactive in our jobs.

MODULE 3 – Trade-Specific Training

DeMERCHANT: To qualify as a Medical Laboratory Technologist in the Canadian Forces, first you’ll need your certification from the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science.  If you’re considering becoming a lab tech or are currently enrolled in a lab tech program at an accredited Canadian college, you may be eligible to have your education paid for by the Forces, in exchange for a period of mandatory service once you graduate.

GAULDEN: Members of the Health Services team are soldiers first, just like every one else in the Forces. So the first stage of your military career will be Basic Training at Saint-Jean, Quebec.

DeMERCHANT: After that, you’ll undertake a one-year preceptorship, under the supervision of more senior laboratory technologists. This will include specialized training to prepare you for possible deployment -- a one-week course in malaria and parasitology at McGill University in Montreal, and a week with 1 Canadian Field Hospital in Petawawa, Ontario.

DeMERCHANT: The practical, so far, has been really good.  I mean, I got to go away and do some training but being here, I’m going to start on a bench by myself, and that’s when they’ll just kind of look over me.  There’s just so many people you can ask questions, and many of them that’s been here for years.

MODULE 4 – Your First Posting

GAULDEN: Your first posting will be at one of the ten Canadian Forces medical labs across the country.

GAULDEN: We work Monday to Friday, 7:30 to 4:00, and civilian side, there’s a lot of shift work.  So it’s pretty different from working at a civilian hospital.

GAULDEN: Throughout your career, there will be opportunities for travel and deployment, continuing education, and courses in leadership and management.

MODULE 5 – Testimonials

DeMERCHANT: I’m very much a people person.  It’s kinda nice to be able to step outside and be able to see what’s out there besides just in the lab.  I know there’s many more people I get to meet in the future, so… I like that.

GAULDEN: I can say that my whole experience in Afghanistan has been my best memories of being a Medical Lab Tech in the Forces.  It was really exciting; it was long hours and really intense work.  But we were saving lives over there.  I found it was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done in my career.

Overview

Working environment

Medical Laboratory Technologists work in a variety of medical facilities and temporary labs while deployed in peacekeeping missions and humanitarian missions around the world. They may work in shifts. They are posted to bases in Canada, are deployed on missions around the world or on ships at sea.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Medical Laboratory Technologist is $49,400 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Medical Laboratory Technologists who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.

Related civilian occupations

  • Medical Laboratory Technologist and Pathologist Assistant
  • Biochemistry Technologist
  • Histology Technologist
  • Microbiology Technologist

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Training

Basic military qualification

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Basic occupational qualification training

Medical Laboratory Technologists are posted to a medical unit in Canada to complete a one-year preceptor program under the supervision of senior staff. This training provides the core knowledge required to practise as a Medical Laboratory Technologist in a military setting.

Specialty training

As they progress in their career, Dental Technicians who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Instructional Techniques
  • Dental Hygiene

Advanced training

As they progress in their career, Medical Laboratory Technologists who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training.

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Entry plans

Required education

The minimum required education to apply for this position is you must be unconditionally accepted or currently enrolled as a full-time student in an academic program at a post-secondary institution selected by the CAF under the Non-Commissioned Member Subsidized Training and Education Plan (NCM-STEP) program.

Direct entry

If you already have a college diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology, certification from the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) and have unrestricted licence or registration to practise (active status) or letter of good standing from a provincial/territorial regulatory authority. If you graduated more than 12 months ago, six months full or part-time clinical medical laboratory experience gained in the last two years is required. If you graduated within the last 12 months no experience is required.

Paid education

Non-commissioned Member Subsidized Education Program

Because this position requires specialty training, the Forces will pay successful recruits to attend the diploma program at an approved Canadian college. NCM SEP students attend basic training and on-the-job training during the summer months. They receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full-pay in exchange for working with the Forces for a period of time. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the Forces and the appropriate college. For more information, see Paid education.

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