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Special Initiatives

CSMLS has embarked on a long-term initiative to support academic programs, health care organizations and the future medical laboratory workforce in understanding current system gaps. Together, we want to increase the number of MLT students and expedite entry to practice as well as collaborate to create evidence-based results.

In a three-tiered project, information has been sought through formal surveys, an environmental scan, national forum discussions, targeted information gathering sessions and the Simulation Research Network. In addition, CSMLS has released special initiative grants for CSMLS simulation and clinical placement projects.

See the Simulation and Clinical Placement Initiative webpage for more details, reports and the Call to Action.

Contact: lauraz@csmls.org

CSMLS has received funding from the Ontario Bridge Training Program to develop 2-3 diversity products aimed at meeting the specific needs of MLT workplaces in Ontario. Diversity products in this context, may take a variety of forms and include: instructional videos, certifications courses, workshop curriculum, tip sheets and human resources checklists.

Instead of developing these products from scratch, research conducted at the outset of the project will catalogue a number of resources currently in operation across Canada that could be adapted for use to serve the MLT community. These resources will vetted via focus groups with three different sets of users: i) internationally educated workers; ii) front-line workers and iii) supervisory staff. Based on the findings of these groups (and a baseline survey conducted with all 14,000 CSMLS members related to this issue), 2-3 existing tools will be selected for customization. These products will be developed by an experienced Diversity Consultant.

Title Description Publication Year
Leveraging Cultural Diversity Products for Medical Laboratory Science Employers Diversity products and final report Contact: miriamg@csmls.org Project is underway; Completion date TBD

CSMLS received funding to create an online version of the General Medical Laboratory Technologist (MLT) certifying exam by developing three sets of practice exams, creating a total of 600 test questions. The practice exams will help internationally educated medical laboratory technologists (IEMLTs) to practice the certifying exams prior to actually taking the exam. In addition, IEMLTs would be provided with an additional set of resources that will expand their understanding of the test questions.

The practice exams will be based on Competency Profiles of the profession, which mimic workplace tasks (and corresponding levels of proficiency) expected for entry-to-practice. Questions banks will be created using item banking software and will be hosted on an IT platform (linked to the CSMLS website) for easy access to all IEMLTs. Users will be automatically provided with their practice score once it is completed, together with detailed information on specific subject/competency areas where the individual was successful and/or may need to focus their study before attempting the actual certifying exam. The project goal is to increase familiarity with the content, ease exam anxiety and ultimately increase the performance rate of the IEMLTs on the national certification exam, facilitating quicker entry to the regulatory body (licensure) and the workplace.

Title Description Publication Year
Development of Online Practice Exams for General MLT Practice exam and final report Contact: miriamg@csmls.org Project is underway; Completion date TBD

With the rapid pace of change occurring within the medical laboratory profession, the impact can negatively affect the mental health of workers. The CSMLS Mental Health Initiative set out to:

  • Evaluate the current state of mental health issues in the medical laboratory profession.
  • Create the process and associated tools to identify, monitor and support national mental health change in the workforce.
  • Understand the mental health experience of MLPs.

This was achieved through the use of quantitative and qualitative research, rigorous processes to create evidence-based policy and a person-centred philosophy to guide the work, resulting in impactful products for members. Deliverables from the initiative include the Mental Health Toolkit, qualitative data on mental health, implementation of CSMLS Mental Health Awareness and Promotion Grants for members, national data on mental health in our profession and other mental health awareness campaign (e.g., Faces of Mental Health and Mental Health Selfies).

Contact: lauraz@csmls.org

Title Description Publication Year
Mental Health in Our Profession – Defined CJMLS article demonstrating some of the results of a 2016 National Mental Health Survey conducted with CSMLS members. 2017
Mental Health Presentation Slide Deck The Mental Health Initiative slide deck as presented to the Conference Board of Canada’s Wellness in the Workplace Conference. *Additional conferences presentations have been conducted. 2017
Describing Mental Health Issues for Medical Laboratory Professionals in the Workplace The study examined the personal accounts of medical laboratory professionals and the mental health issues experienced due to workplace stress. The study utilized an asynchronous online forum discussion board. The qualitative results confirmed major stressors at the personal, organization and professional levels. 2016
Mental Health Toolkit The Mental Health Toolkit is an interactive website of resources, information and surveys to learn about and support your mental health needs in the workplace. Winner of the CSAE Award of Distinction 2017. Website
National Indicators: Mental Health Status of
Medical Laboratory Professionals in Canada
A national review of the mental health status of medical laboratory professionals who are members of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS). These medical laboratory professionals (MLPs) include medical laboratory assistants/technicians (MLAs) and medical laboratory technologists (MLTs). 2018
National Indicators: The Quality of Worklife of Medical Laboratory Professionals in Canada A national review of the quality of worklife of employed medical laboratory professionals who are members of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS). These medical laboratory professionals (MLPs) include medical laboratory assistants/technicians (MLAs) and medical laboratory technologists (MLTs). 2018

Medical laboratory professionals should be acutely aware that their laboratories and clinical environments represent high-risk hazardous settings, both in preanalytical and analytical phases. Workers are exposed to numerous potential hazards including chemical, biological and even radioactive threats, in addition to other physical and psychological impactors such as musculoskeletal and mental stressors. For example, prolonged standing, neck bending, stress associated dealing with ill patients, exposure to sharp instruments and exposure to infectious material(s) are common. The work of medical laboratory professionals allows for limited control over their environment, coworkers and patients, resulting in a workplace that can never be considered 100% safe.

CSMLS undertook a longitudinal review of the occupational injury and disease data produced by the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) as well as conducted a national survey with CSMLS members regarding occupational health and safety practices.

Contact: lauraz@csmls.org

Title Description Publication Year
A Decade in Review - Accepted Lost Time Claims and Fatalities in the Medical Laboratory Profession This report provides a historical look and analysis of the national injury and disease data produced by the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC). Data from 2006-2015 associated with lost time claims and fatalities, as reported to the Canadian Workers’ Compensation Boards/Commissions (WCBs), has been analysed and presented. 2018
National Occupational Health and Safety Survey

The purpose of this study is to better understand health and safety practices as well occupational disease and injuries experienced by medical laboratory professionals working in laboratories across Canada.

A survey examining the occupational health and safety practice of CSMLS members was conducted approximately ten years ago. Since this time, there has been an increase in safety awareness and improved health protocols and technology. This study will:

  • Examine how the health and safety practice of CSMLS members has changed since the original survey,
  • Help to understand reporting of occupational disease and injuries by members to their workplace, and
  • identify opportunities to improve safety culture.
In progress – final release TBD
CSMLS Safety Central Webpage For more safety information and resources: https://www.csmls.org/Safety-Central.aspx Launched 2018

A recent shift has occurred to place more effort into the study of ‘laboratory utilization’, which focuses on whether test orders are appropriate or inappropriate, and the resultant impact. An estimated 20-50% of all testing is inappropriately ordered, meaning that it is either an incorrect test, a redundant test or a correct test ordered at the wrong time. This results in large amounts of wasted public money, misdirected clinical effort and the potential for patient harm. The reasons for inappropriate testing are numerous, spanning physician, patient, social and system factors. We have reached a point in the field where it is no longer a question of whether inappropriate testing is occurring, but rather there is a need to understand the extent it is occurring, why it persists and what can be done.

There have been many initiatives to improve the utilization of healthcare resources in general, but none have gained the momentum of Choosing Wisely (CW), which began in the United States in 2012. In Canada, there are approximately 50 professional societies and 327 recommendations. In 2018, the CSMLS agreed to become a campaign partner with CW Canada.

The CSMLS and University of Alberta (UofA) are partnering on a project to facilitate medical laboratory professional’s participation in reducing unnecessary testing in the healthcare system. This collaboration will involve the creation of a website that is focused on two primary items. First, a compilation of current CW Canada recommendations related to the laboratory along with an educational tool to help practitioners understand how they can influence the use of the recommendations. Second, a profession-specific list of recommendations generated through a multi-pronged engagement process. To help maximize the impact of these items, a broader understanding of current MLP attitudes, awareness and engagement related to CW is needed. Research is required to fill this gap in knowledge.

Title Description Publication Year
Choosing Wisely for Medical Laboratory Professionals in Canada Contact: lauraz@csmls.org Project is underway; Completion date 2019-20

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