News | February 5, 2014

The Canadian Society For Medical Laboratory Science To Help Foreign Trained Lab Professionals Find Meaningful Employment

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) is undertaking research aimed at helping foreign trained lab professionals find meaningful employment in cases where successfully attaining a license to practice in Canada is unlikely.

In 2012, the CSMLS received 132 applications from internationally educated laboratory technologists seeking licensure in Canada. The CSMLS provides a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) service, which evaluates an applicant's education and experience and compares it to the Canadian standard. Applicants that meet the standard and those who complete learning plans to address gaps identified by the PLA are eligible to write the CSMLS National Certification Examination, which is generally required to obtain a license and practice in Canada.

However, in many cases the gap between the applicant's education and experience and the Canadian standard is too great.  All too often, these applicants end up in a long, drawn out process, continually trying and failing to meet Canadian standards. This costs these applicants significant amounts of time and money with only a faint hope of success. A CSMLS study shows that only 34% of international candidates pass the certification exam on their first attempt compared with 86% of those educated in Canada.

"We can tell early on in the process whether the road to Canadian certification for an applicant will be virtually impassable," says Christine Nielsen, CSMLS's Chief Executive Officer. "Counselling these applicants on alternate careers can make use of their existing experience and help them find meaningful and gainful employment in Canada."

The 18-month research project, funded by Health Canada, aims to identify appropriate intervention points in the process to provide this alternate career information to select internationally educated applicants seeking licensure inCanada.

"Our Government is pleased to provide funding for this initiative which will help increase career options for new immigrants to Canada," said David Sweet, Member of Parliament for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale. "Ensuring that skilled immigrants participate fully in Canada's job market is a key part of our Government's economic growth strategy."

The goal of the project is multifaceted in nature, involving arriving at a working definition for what constitutes an "alternate career", determining at what point in the assessment process (and to whom) to provide information in this regard, and developing supporting communication materials for applicants and potential referral sources.

"Presenting skilled immigrants with clear and relevant career options early in the assessment process may help to decrease levels of unemployment and underemployment among applicants," says Project Manager, Keith Johnson. "This research will go a long way in that regard."

The project officially commenced in June, 2013 and a report summarizing key findings and recommendations will be released in the fall of 2014.

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science is the national certifying body for medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory assistants, and the national professional society for Canada's medical laboratory professionals. Incorporated in 1937 as the Canadian Society of Laboratory Technologists, the society has over 14,000 members in Canada and in countries around the world.

SOURCE: The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS)

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