The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) and the Nova Scotia Society of Medical Laboratory Technologists (NSSMLT) are expressing cautious optimism over the provincial government’s plan to address a serious shortage of medical laboratory technologists.
Yesterday, Health Minister Jane Purves announced that the province will fund an additional 22 training positions for medical laboratory technologists at the New Brunswick Community College – currently three positions are funded. Students will complete their clinical training (work experience) in laboratories in Nova Scotia. The government will also provide an $8,000 bursary to students who pledge to return to work in Nova Scotia for at least two years.
“This is a good first step,” says NSSMLT president Brenda Soutar. “We are particularly encouraged by the fact that Minister Purves has committed to long-term strategies, including the development of a training program in Nova Scotia,” she says. “This is absolutely essential if we want to retain our new graduates. We look forward to working with the government to develop strategies to meet the human resource needs for our profession.”
The announcement did not provide information about funding for the clinical phase of the students’ training. “Financial support for clinical training is absolutely critical,” says CSMLS executive director, Kurt Davis. “Hospital laboratories are already experiencing staffing shortages. They will require additional resources to enable them to train the new students,” he says.
Nova Scotia is facing a shortage of medical laboratory technologists – highly skilled health care professionals who conduct laboratory tests on blood, body fluids and body tissues. Over 85 per cent of medical decisions are based laboratory test results. CSMLS data indicate that 110 of Nova Scotia’s 837 MLTs will be eligible to retire by 2006; by 2016, 502 or 60 per cent of the total MLT workforce will have reached retirement age.
CSMLS is the national certifying body for medical laboratory technologists and a voluntary professional association for medical laboratory professionals – Canada’s third largest group of health care providers. NSSMLT is the voluntary professional society for medical laboratory technologists in Nova Scotia. They have been awaiting final approval of their status as the regulatory body for the profession in Nova Scotia since March 2000.