While healthcare workers such as nurses and doctors have been receiving much attention throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, working on the frontlines saving the lives of those affected by the virus, medical lab technicians are the anonymous heroes working behind the scenes to keep Canadians safe.
The role of medical lab professionals is crucial when it comes to COVID-19 testing, as their work determines the results of the tests themselves. In spite of the need for people working in this critical role, Canada is facing a shortage of medical laboratory technicians and professionals, hindering the efficacy of the COVID-19 testing process.
If you’re considering a career as a medical lab technician, here’s why your skills will be especially in demand as a graduate of this program—through the pandemic and beyond.
What Do Medical Lab Professionals Do?
Medical lab technicians provide diagnostic services in laboratories. They collect samples from patients such as blood, tissue and saliva, and analyze these specimens by performing tests utilizing a variety of techniques and processes. Medical lab professionals also keep lab equipment, samples, and results filed and organized, ensuring that the specimens tested accurately correspond to patients’ identities.
The results obtained by medical lab technician program graduates are delivered to doctors, who use them to determine an accurate diagnosis and develop a plan for the patient’s treatment. Without medical lab technicians and the testing they conduct, doctors would be unable to treat patients safely and effectively.
Why the Work of Medical Lab Technician Program Graduates is Important in the Fight Against COVID
Medical lab technicians have always had a vital role in the healthcare field, as the results they obtain inform diagnoses, allowing doctors to treat their patients. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of their work all the more. Throughout the pandemic, medical lab professionals have been the ones running COVID-19 tests behind the scenes, obtaining results which not only keep individuals safe and informed, but also allow the government to gauge progress in the fight against COVID-19 and develop policies regarding the pandemic.
Without the skills and expertise of medical lab technicians in testing procedures and practices, it would be impossible to conduct COVID-19 testing, a key component in the fight against the effects of the pandemic. Testing allows for faster identification of cases, enabling the swift treatment of individuals who have tested positive, and the implementation of isolation measures to prevent further spread of the virus. While it’s become clear that effective testing saves lives and aids containment of the virus, Canada is currently facing a shortage of professionals known to have completed a medical lab technician course, and qualified to conduct testing.
A Shortage of Medical Lab Professionals in Canada
Canada is currently facing a shortage of medical lab professionals, causing delays in COVID-19 testing and hindering the efficacy of a beneficial testing process. Prior to the pandemic, 70% of Ontario’s labs were already short-staffed, noted Michelle Hoad, CEO of the Medical Laboratory Professionals Association of Ontario. With the arrival of COVID-19, these labs have been put under additional strain as they struggle to run thousands of COVID-19 tests in addition to other necessary tests.
The shortage of professionals eligible to conduct testing has created backlog in the face of increased demand for testing as Canada battles a second wave of COVID-19 infections, with the threat of a potential third wave looming. Medical laboratory professionals are working extended hours to keep up with testing, but are inevitably falling behind due to workforce shortages.
Demand for Medical Lab Technician Program Graduates in the Future
These shortages are not just an issue in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Canada’s population gets older, the consumption of health-care services, and the demand for lab results specifically, will continue to rise. However, a decline in the workforce of medical lab professionals will strain the country’s ability to keep up with this increased demand. In Ontario labs, Christine Nielsen, CEO of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science, estimates that there is a shortage of 200-300 medical laboratory professionals, and in the next five years, 50% of the current workforce will become eligible for retirement.
The demand for medical lab technicians and professionals is not going away in Canada, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear just how essential the work these professionals conduct is to the health and safety of Canadians.
If you’re looking for a fulfilling career in health care, a future as a medical laboratory professional could be right for you.
Do you want to make a difference in the fight against COVID-19 and beyond?
Enroll in a medical laboratory technician course at Oxford College today.