A career in Medical Laboratory Technology
When a specimen is collected at a doctor’s office or hospital, it is sent to a laboratory to be analyzed by Medical Laboratory Technologists (MLTs). About two million lab tests are done every year at the QEH.
“Across Canada, approximately 40 percent of MLTs will be eligible to retire over the next 10 years,” says Greg Dobbin. “The shortage is already critical, and PEI has to recruit graduates from other provinces. Employment opportunities are good for new graduates here and across Canada.”
About 85 MLTs and Medical Laboratory Assistants (MLAs) work at the QEH. MLTs and MLAs are also employed in hospitals in Summerside, Souris, Montague, and O’Leary. They cover shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “About 85 percent of PEI’s MLTs and MLAs are female, which can mean improved opportunities to cover maternity leaves,” says Greg.
MLTs work in labs in hospitals, in biotechnology and pharmaceutical research, veterinary medicine, government agencies, the military, public health, and quality control in industry.
MLAs work under the supervision of an MLT. They work in a hospital, where they take blood, process specimens, and deliver them to the labs.
In smaller hospitals, MLTs cover a wide variety of areas.
In a large hospital, they can specialize in the following disciplines:
Hematology: taking blood and analyzing blood cells to look for diseases.
Biochemistry: analyzing the serum component of blood.
Microbiology: analyzing specimens such to look for bacteria or fungi that cause infection.
Molecular biology: detecting viruses.
Transfusion medicine: testing blood to match blood donors to recipients for blood transfusion.
Histology: receiving surgical biopsies and processing the tissues.
Cytology: preparing and examining preparations of cellular material such as tumors.
On PEI, the starting wage for MLTs is about $28/hr. MLAs start at about $22/hr.
MLAs take a one-year diploma program at a community college such as Oulton College in Moncton or NSCC in Halifax.
MLTs typically take a three-year community college program. UNB offers a Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science degree option that bridges with the diploma program at NBCC. The degree students are guaranteed their seat in the program. All MLTs must also write a national exam on completion of their MLT program.
“Education programs can be very competitive to get into,” says Greg. “Apply as early as possible.”
For more information, visit the PEI Society for Medical Laboratory Science at www.peismls.com.