Update on Access to the National Certification Exams
February 04, 2021
Medical laboratory professionals have played, and continue to play, a key role in Canada’s pandemic response. Ensuring new graduates are able to challenge the CSMLS certification exam and enter the labour market has been our focus for the past year.
Delivering a high-stakes exam while conforming to each province’s evolving public health measures has been no easy task. We are pleased to share that despite the challenges, over 1,000 candidates have been able to challenge the CSMLS certification exams since March 2020. Accomplishing this has meant doubling the number of exam sessions and accelerating the use of remote proctored testing (which is usually a 2-year transition process that we compressed into a 3-month turnaround time). All of this has been done in collaboration with the provincial regulatory bodies.
Adapting to the ever-changing provincial restrictions remains a challenge. Uncertainty around the relaxing of Ontario’s current lockdown threatens to displace some exam candidates in Ontario. Even though many physical locations are still open, current provincial distancing requirements and occupancy limits significantly reduce each site’s capacity. Should the lockdown be extended, approximately 24 candidates may be displaced from their scheduled in-person sessions. This represents approximately 14% of this particular cohort. The Diagnostic Cytology exam has been moved to maximize our ability to get students to exam.
Last week, we communicated the potential issue to all affected candidates, providing them with options, including: switching to a remote proctored exam, switching to other physical exam locations where space remained, or deferring to the next exam session (April). We are actively working with all of them to accommodate each person as best we can. As of the publishing date, we expect every exam candidate who seeks to write in the February session will be accommodated.
Demand for the limited physical and remote exam seats is extremely high. We are fortunate to be a prioritized health profession, and we continue to work with our exam provider, Prometric, to secure as many spots as possible. However, we do have to compete with other prioritized professions, such as physicians and pharmacy.
We understand that new MLTs are needed in the labour market and we are constantly working with government, regulatory bodies, employers and schools to ensure a supply of qualified, certified medical laboratory professionals continues to enter the workforce.