Renewals Lag - New Members Increase

May 1st marked the beginning our new membership year. Over 400 members from last year have still not renewed. At the same time new members or lapsed members who have rejoined have risen. An overall increase increase of 2-3% is projected. Some highlights include

  • Medical Laboratory Technologist numbers are up by almost 7%
  • Medical Laboratory Assistant numbers have decline by over 8%

There is still time to improve this picture. Soon BCSLS will be sending out reminder letters to all of those who have not yet renewed. Please take the time to check your status. Call or email our office if you are unsure. You can use either of the following methods to renew

Your support is vital to our work. Our recent research shows broad public support for a self-regulating college, but we must continue to make the case to government. Positive laboratory reform is needed, but not at the expense of standards and patient safety. More qualified laboratory staff are needed to deal with increasing workloads and better opportunities for professional development and career enhancement. With your support BCSLS will continue to work on all of these issues.

We have an ambitious program of continuing education events under development for 2006/07, including

  • TeleHealth Seminars (5 per year)
  • MLA Education Conference
  • Congress & AGM
  • Scientific Conference (eg Crime Scene)

Please check out our new webcast lectures. We are planning a new members only online forum for peer scientific and career advice and from other experts. And donít forget our correspondence courses such as Back to Basics Refresher, Virology and FISH. As a member you will receive discounts of up to 50% on all applicable events, courses and services. If you are a MLA, remember that your membership includes professional liability insurance!

Please ensure your email address is up-to-date on your renewal form to continue to be emailed The Objective (at least monthly) directly to your home and/or work.

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Spring TeleHealth Events Successful

Our spring season of TeleHealth seminars has been very successful. Included were The Uses of Chemistry Test for Kidney Disease by Dr. John Heathcote on March 23rd, The ABCs or AROs by Dr. Diane Roscoe on April 27th and Biochemical Cardiac Tests, also by Dr. John Healthcote on May 25th. Altogether about 500 people attended the three events at between 30-38 sites each time.

Participants seem to enjoy the combination of high level, but useful, information provided in their own workplaces, as well as the ability to interact with the lecturers and each other during the question period.

All events have been digitally recorded and will be available as webcasts in the near future. In the meantime, the speakers' powerpoint presentations and slide handouts are available for downloading from our Live Events page on the web site.

Coming up on October 19th is Iron Haemochromatosis by Dr. Gilian Lockitch. Information about this event is also available on our web site. Other seminars are being planned for next November, February, April, and May (or June).

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MLA Education Day Report

On May 13th the BCSLS MLA Education Committee hosted its annual MLA Education Day conference at Douglas College in New Westminster.

Almost 80 participants from every region of the province listened to speakers on

  • The Future for MLAs - Rene Maier, BCSLS Director for Professional Development, Camosun College Instructor, and MDS Metro manager.
  • Paediatric Blood Collection - Brett Maletic, MLA Children and Women's Hospital.
  • Advanced ECGs - Cathie Cousins, RNRN BsN Certified Cardiovascular Nurse in Canada - CCN(C) and educator.
  • Legal and Ethical Issues - Joan Mitchell, Ed.D. MLT and Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Victoria.

Lunch was provided and there were several door prizes won. Prizes were donated by BCSLS, London Drugs, Purdy's Chocolates and BC Biomedical Laboratories.

Speakers' powerpoint presentations and slide handouts are available for viewing and downloading from the Archives page of our web site.

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Health Regulators Discuss Pandemic Planning

On May 17 the Health Regulatory Organizations of BC (HROBC) held their regular meeting at the College of Pharmacists in Vancouver. A principle topic of discussion was health care pandemic planning.

Via a telephone conference call Mr. Craig Knight, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health updated members on the May 13th Ministers of Health meeting about planning a response by medical professionals during an epidemic. A major concern was about their mobility during an emergency. The MOH is contemplating a temporary emergency registration process to enable professionals to practice in BC during a disaster situation. The Ministry wants know which groups have already started planning for disasters and which disciplines would be most critical in the event of one.

The Ministry was asked whether it would consider a temporary suspension of registration Ė especially in the second and third wave of a pandemic situation. This question will be addressed as part of their planning process. The issue of the duplication and safety of databases was also raised for their consideration.

Dr. Penny Ballem, Deputy Minister of Health will be sending a letter to HROBC members regarding pandemic preparedness. In the meantime, if your laboratory or facility is preparing a pandemic reponse plan let BCSLS know about it. We will collect this information to share with the Ministry.

Please check out the BC Government's website on pandemic preparedness and the Harvard Business Review's Checklist for Pandemic Planning.

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Laboratory Jobs Available

Looking for a new job? Or just interested in seeing what's available? Are you a manager looking to recruit staff?

Check out the BCSLS Careers page. It contains not only hot job postings, but links to employer and career information websites. Next to our Home page it is the most visited place on our web site.

Advertisers - take a look at our rate sheet for information about how to reach the more than 5,000 laboratory professoinals currently working in public and private laboratories in BC.

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BCSLS Congress 2006 Update

You can now register online or by mail-in form for Riding the Rails in the Rockies to be held on September 21-23 in Cranbrook at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort & Convention Centre. Our Early Bird deadline is August 15th - you will save $35 if you register by then.

Speakers and workshops are still under development, but Sylvia Main, Congress Chair informs us that things are advancing nicely. Some highlights include

  • Keynote Speaker Dr. David Pi, Clinical Director of the Provincial Laboratory Coordinating Office will speak on "The Future of Laboratory Services in the West - Issues, Opportunities and Challenges"
  • Workshops: Including presentations on Gram Stains, Virtual Autopsy, Hormone Evaluation in Infertility, PCOs Evaluation, Serological Challenges in Pretransfussion Compatibility Testing, Cardiac Management in the ER, Microbiology Case Studies, Ultra Sensitive Troponin, BNP, Professional Licensing, Blood Gases Interpretation, Diagnositc Accreditation Program Update, E. Coli 0157 and Other Pathogens, An African Perspective, Diagnostic Challenges in Zoonotic Disease Research, Diabetic Glucose Monitoring, Neurobiology of Behaviour, HAZMAT and the Clinical Lab, Quality Systems Implementation, Quality Management Process Mapping, Meditech Blood Bank Module, Blood Bank Documents and Records, The Future for MLAs and more.
  • Exhibitors Reception: Get to know your fellow participants, workshop leaders, health care recruiters and the leading company representatives supplying products and services to medical laboratories.
  • BCSLS Annual General Meeting: Members and guests are invited to hear the Board and Executive Director reports and vote on society resolutions, and congratulate this year's award winners. Announcements will be made about Dr. Phil Reid Bursaries and membership campaign prize draws. Breakfast is provided.
  • Dinner/Theatre: an awesome Friday Night Gala at the beautifully restored Royal Alexandra Hall located at the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel which is close to the Prestige Inn; including cocktails and "Murder on the Kootenay Express" a Dinner/Murder Mystery.
  • Nite on the Town: Join us at Yuk Yuk's Comedy Club and then venture out on our Pub Crawl.

Exhibitor & Sponsorship Information is available if your organization wishes to help support this event.

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CSMLS Highlights Technologist Shortage

TORONTO (CP) April 24, 2006 - Canada will face a shortage of medical laboratory technologists if more training isn't available for new recruits to replace retiring workers, warns the organization that certifies the technologists.

"By 2010, we're going to start seeing serious impacts to the point of where we'll seriously be impacting patient care and we won't be able to turn around patient results because there won't be enough people to do the work," Kurt Davis, Executive Director of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science, said Monday from Hamilton.

If an influenza pandemic or another major infectious disease epidemic were to surface, public health laboratories would have trouble responding, the society says.

"There is a distinct threat to Canada's public health if we can't meet the challenges brought by these new and emerging pathogens," Reuben Noseworthy, the society's president, said in a statement.

Lab technologists are normally trained in three-year programs at colleges across the country, he said. One component is on-the-job training - and that's where the problem lies, not with actual recruitment, Davis said.

"Programs have been approved for increased enrolment, but they can't take all the students in that they have seats for because they cannot provide the clinical (on-the-job) education to those individuals," he said.

Demographic studies indicate that almost 50 per cent of medical laboratory technologists are expected to retire in the next decade, the society says.

Technologists run tests on blood and other specimens at hospitals and private laboratories across the country. Davis said their role is not well known because they often operate behind a biohazard "do not enter" sign in hospitals.

"Things like West Nile virus, avian flu, the Walkerton water epidemic," he said. "They all rely heavily on medical laboratory diagnostic tests to identify the public health problem."

The average member of the public has "probably not seen an impact because the people are working overtime and juggling the workload to try and still produce the same number of results with lesser people," he said.

"But as you can appreciate, that can only be extended so far and then the system is going to come close to collapse. Our serious concern is that if we get into a situation with a health epidemic of some sort, a flu pandemic or some other circumstance, that there is no capacity in the system to cope with a large work overload."

Davis said he's heard that Manitoba is experiencing shortages in rural areas, and a lab in Brandon is short-staffed.

Manitoba Health Minister Tim Sale said there are "some challenges" in Brandon, but that lab is not actually short-staffed and is involved in a $7-million redevelopment project.

There are always issues of staffing in medicine, he noted.

"I'm not aware of us having significant structural shortages in our laboratories. We're basically doing the work that we need to do," Sale said from Winnipeg.

"I'm much more conscious of the nurses in terms of workforce age. The lab-tech workforce age is younger; nurses - we have a very rapidly aging nursing force, particularly in rural Manitoba, but I've not been made aware of a similar problem with lab techs."

ANNE-MARIE TOBIN, Copyright © 2006 Canadian Press

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National Exam Performance Report

CSMLS has announced it will publish a national report containing exam performance data for all Canadian Medical Association (CMA) accredited education programs starting in June 2006. The decision was made in response to Council on National Certification (CNC) concerns for a more accountable and transparent system. The report will be published in the Canadian Journal of Medical Laboratory Science and on the CSMLS website. It will contain information about how many people from each program take the certification exams and the percentage of those who pass. Individual's results will not be published.

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Canadians Pessimistic About Wait-Time Change

An Ipsos-Reid public opinion poll for Health Canada has found that two-thirds of Canadians are not confident of any improvement in wait times for medical treatment in the next few years. Respondents in Quebec are the most pessimistic.

The poll, obtained by the Ottawa Citizen, revealed that only 52 per cent of Canadians believe the federal government has taken action to reduce wait times despite this being a central feature of the $41 billion federal-provincial-territorial health accord signed in September 2004.

Slightly more, 55 per cent, believe their provincial government has done something to improve wait times.

The poll also found Canadians have a worsening view of federal government performance on health care.

The percentage of people who believe Ottawa is doing a good job on this file dropped eight points between May and November 2005, and now stands at 33 per cent.

Source: Merck Frost Health Edition

May 25, 2006 Volume 10 Issue 21

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