New language policy fast-tracks route to Canadian certification for internationally-educated lab technologists

July 02, 2008


Hamilton, ON July 2, 2008

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) has implemented a new language proficiency policy that will fast-track the route to Canadian certification for internationally-educated medical laboratory technologists (MLTs).

In order to apply to write the CSMLS national certification examination, internationally educated MLTs must establish eligibility through a process called Prior Learning Assessment. Before the new policy, applicants had to demonstrate language ability in the range of Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) 8 through a test of language proficiency test approved by the CSMLS before they could apply for Prior Learning Assessment. Language proficiency tests measure English language skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

The new policy, which takes effect on July 1, 2008 adopts a two-stage language proficiency standard. Internationally educated MLTs will be able to apply for Prior Learning Assessment if they can demonstrate language ability in the range of CLB 6 – a demonstration of CLB 8 through a test of language proficiency approved by the CSMLS will still be required to establish eligibility to write the national certification examination.

A recently completed research study conducted by CSMLS and funded by the Government of Ontario recommended implementing a two-stage language standard to increase access to the Prior Learning Assessment process. The study determined that while CLB 8 is an appropriate standard to write the certification exam and is necessary for successful integration in the Canadian workplace, CLB 6 was sufficient to start the Prior Learning Assessment process.

“Adopting a two-stage language standard provides several advantages to our internationally-educated clients. They will be able to start the PLA process sooner and depending upon the outcome of the assessment, they will have an opportunity to upgrade their language skills before writing the exam,” says CSMLS Director of Certification Christine Nielsen.

Completion of a CSMLS Prior Learning Assessment is a common requirement for admission into ‘bridging programs’—education programs that bridge gaps in clinical and technical experience. “Enabling our clients to start the PLA process sooner will help reduce barriers to admission to bridging programs for those who require upgrading to bring themselves to the Canadian standard,” says Ms. Nielsen.

CSMLS is the national certifying body for medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory assistants. Four hundred and seventy-one internationally-educated medical laboratory technologists have been certified by CSMLS since 2000. In 2007, CSMLS completed 310 prior learning assessments.

Detailed information about how to become certified as a medical laboratory technologist in Canada is available on the CSMLS website,

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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