2021 — pandemic year two. Medical laboratory professionals delivered exceptional health care, while faced with monumental expectations and overwhelming challenges. You answered the call.
While you continued to work on the frontlines of this pandemic, CSMLS continued our mission to be the association of choice for medical laboratory professionals. Our team continued our commitment to provide resources to help navigate the new normal, remain current and support your personal well being.
For years, we have invested in advocacy programs to raise awareness of your role in patient care and, as you’ll see in the Annual Report below, 2021 did not slow us down. The pandemic connected the dots for patients, administrators, government and the general public, helping them realize just how vital lab testing is. We leveraged this new-found understanding to drive impactful advocacy campaigns.
CSMLS also invested in several key areas to support the current and future labour market, including a pilot program to integrate internationally trained MLTs into the Canadian laboratory workplace. We continued our work with Choosing Wisely Canada to develop and promote the Lab Wisely recommendations, which will serve to improve laboratory stewardship. These initiatives help tackle the crushing workloads and mitigate the effects of the health human resource shortages on our members.
This community, while resilient, has suffered. We strengthened our support for members’ well being. It is not enough just to document the situation — a responsible membership-based society provides tools and supports. You can read more below about the mental health resources we created. We are committed to provide ongoing support for your mental health and well being.
As your chosen professional society, we are here to help us all move forward, one step at a time. Thank you for lending us your support and joining us on this journey forward. Better days are ahead!
While the pandemic certainly tested our limits for another year, I have not only heard of but personally witnessed inspiring stories from labs across Canada about teamwork, collaboration, improved communications, and innovations. I am incredibly proud to belong to a community of laboratory professionals that stepped up and persevered in what has become one of the most stressful and demanding circumstances in our lifetime – all for quality patient care.
As your President in 2021, I took that inspiration to heart. The Board of Directors’ responsibility is to our members and creating a viable Society. One way we ensure that we meet that responsibility is through our Strategic Plan. It is the map that charts where we want to be and how we get there. When our world changed, we took the time to stop, listen, and evaluated whether our map still made sense.
Through a lengthy yet rewarding series of virtual processes, we took a hard look at the future of our profession and how we would want our Society to align. In the end, we agreed that the foundations of the Strategic Plan were functionally sound. We decided that we are on the right course of action and, with staff support, we would reach our goals.
This further confirms my confidence in our actions throughout the year, actions that were supported, of course, by you, the membership. I am honoured to present the 2021 Financial Statement, detailed below. As described in the statement, we ended the year with a surplus budget, a testament to fiscal decision making and a steady recruitment campaign. Despite the many twists and turns of the year, we remained on track to meet our fiduciary responsibility to our members.
As your President, it has been my absolute privilege to work with dedicated and inspiring volunteers, all of whom have come together towards a common vision and goal. I’d like to personally thank my fellow Board members, and of course, each and every one of you. Thank you all for not only seeing, but also contributing to our vision and by adding your value to the tapestry of our medical lab community.
On behalf of the CSMLS Board of Directors, we present the newly revised strategic plan. Recently, the Board went through a validation process to ensure the pillars of the plan reflect the changes to our profession and where they see the Society in the years to come. This work resulted in some revisions to enhance focus and use of resources.
The CSMLS Strategic Plan focuses on these four key areas to support the continued success of the organization:
Public and Government Advocacy
With in-person gatherings restricted across the country for another year, we helped the medical laboratory community come together, while staying safely apart, to celebrate National Medical Laboratory Week and advocate for the profession with our biggest Celebration Toolkit ever, all branded to the much-loved Indigo Lab Coat.
During the week, we saw 18 landmarks across the country lit up in indigo, and political leaders spoke out for the lab. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau published a statement of support, and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Health Patty Hajdu and many provincial leaders sent their own messages and proclamations to mark the week.
The community came together for a Lab Week photo with the virtual photobooth; nearly 300 medical lab professionals submitted their photos to the virtual gallery.
Thanks to member participation, CSMLS Lab Week social media posts were seen more than 500,000 times, and all Lab Week-related posts had a social reach of over 7.8 million users.
The Indigo Lab Coat continued its mission to raise awareness of the profession, now highlighting medical laboratory professionals as the “unsung heroes” of Canada’s pandemic response. In 2021, we partnered with Canadian icon Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser to create the Indigo Lab Coat of Honour, a lab coat covered in Wickenheiser’s praise for medical laboratory professionals micro printed in indigo text.
This coat was the centre of a brand-new element of the campaign: a live display of the Indigo Lab Coat of Honour.
The Indigo Lab Coat was on display at the height of the holiday shopping season, first at the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in London, Ontario, and then the Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre in Vaughan, Ontario.
Ten bus shelter ads, strategically placed in high-visibility areas and in regions surrounding hospitals in 5 major cities, are estimated to have been viewed 6.9 million times.
We published a new web video that was shared across the CSMLS social media channels and on YouTube. Together, the social media campaign was viewed more than 400,000 times.
For over a decade, CSMLS has been organizing Lobby Day, a one-day government relations blitz where volunteer members and staff meet face-to-face with Members of Parliament on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill. These meetings have proved incredibly effective, establishing CSMLS as a source of information regarding laboratory and health care matters.
In May 2021, we reimagined Lobby Day, creating a week-long virtual event in which 13 CSMLS volunteers and staff held meetings with 38 government officials. Our lobby team iterated our key concerns, all related to the increased demand for laboratory testing and the shortage of medical laboratory technologists. The good news about a pandemic? They all understand the critical role you play in healthcare now, more than ever.
We outlined the multi-pronged approach we champion to addressing impending shortages:
We capitalized on the relationships we built during Lobby Week and followed up on key action points throughout the year. Lobbying is a long-term effort, and Lobby Week proved a solid investment in our advocacy strategy.
Mental Health Report
After watching our members endure the pandemic for nearly two years, the state of your mental health was more important to us than ever. The pandemic had put our planned 2020 Mental Health Survey on pause, but the CSMLS research team recommenced the study in 2021, focusing on the changes to members’ mental health since the onset of the pandemic.
The report, based on your responses, confirmed pandemic demands exacerbated your workloads in the lab, especially with the MLT shortage, as the concept “I have too much work to do everything well” saw a sharp increase from 9% to 68% in 2021.
The study found that 29% of CSMLS members are experiencing incidences of nonspecific serious psychological distress (NSPD), which includes mental health problems severe enough to cause impairment in social, work, or school functioning; and to require treatment.
Other key findings related to psychological distress include the following:
You can read the full report findings here.
On December 3, we released a joint statement, with Sonography Canada (SG) and the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT), on the mental health status of allied health professionals, fueled by the findings of this joint research project. The statement continues to raise awareness of the mental health struggles allied health professionals face as they care for Canadians through a pandemic.
We are now using the information collected to create new methods for our members to resolve mental health issues, including stress and burnout, and focus on well being.
The persistent limits on in-person events did not dampen our ability to deliver high-quality learning resources to our members. The CSMLS learning team capitalized on established digital channels and created new online resources for the professional development support we know members value.
Members continued to take advantage of the CSMLS multi-day learning resources through 2021. We created new content, and registrations for courses and virtual symposia doubled since 2020.
In 2021, we ran another full year of the Insights Speaker Series, with subject matter experts speaking virtually to the community every month. These events, made available as on-demand webinars after the live event, supplemented our robust free-for-members catalogue, pushing the number of free learning hours available to members past 900 hours.
The CSMLS Certification and Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) department constantly adapted to pandemic challenges to help as many eligible candidates as possible sit the National Certification Exam and enter the workforce. In the middle of the pandemic, qualification processes must go on.
Remote proctored testing (RPT), first piloted June 2020, became a mainstay for the benefit of exam candidates. All MLT regulators now permit CSMLS-certified candidates in both in-person and RPT test format; thus, we plan to continue offering RPT, as it improves access, particularly during public gathering restrictions.
We doubled the exam dates between August 2020 and August 2021, to help as many graduating cohorts as possible and stabilize the number of available testing seats through the pandemic year.
To help exam candidates have the best possible experience while sitting the exam, for both in-person or using RPT, we launched new support resources:
CSMLS is proud to offer many grants, scholarships and awards as a benefit to our members. These financial benefits are provided to help members continue their professional development, aid students in their education and recognize those who have shown excellence in the profession. Congratulations to all grant, scholarship, and awards recipients. Find the full list of 2021 recipients below.
Congratulations to all grants, scholarships and awards recipients.
The success of the CSMLS relies on the dedication and commitment of our volunteers. To mark National Volunteer Week, CSMLS would like to thank each and every one of our volunteers; you are the heart of our organization and the laboratory community. Thank you for dedicating your time, knowledge and expertise — especially while facing your own challenges and stresses in 2021.
As the National Voice of Canada’s medical laboratory profession, CSMLS represents the needs and concerns of medical laboratory professionals when working with laboratory and health care–related organizations. The CSMLS Board of Directors, staff and volunteers attend meetings, conferences and events on behalf of CSMLS members and the entire medical laboratory profession.
We continue to take the necessary precautions to keep staff, collaborators and members safe, so many of the meetings we usually attend in person are now virtual or via phone. Not all of those events qualify for the National Voice; however, we have been working with media, policymakers and collaborators each month. Here is where your voice was heard recently.
Indigenous Land Acknowledgement : We respectfully acknowledge the CSMLS office, located in Hamilton, Ontario, is situated upon the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Mississauga Nation, Anishinaabe Peoples, and the Neutral Peoples. This land is covered by the Dish With One Spoon wampum, which is a treaty between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe to share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. We further acknowledge that this land is covered by the Between the Lakes Treaty No. 3, 1792, between the Crown and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
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