Saskatchewan facing shortage of medical lab professionals
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SASKATOON – With a growing population, Saskatchewan is struggling to recruit medical laboratory technologists who provide the data used to diagnose and treat patients.
A shortage means delays for patients, according to Mary Katchmer, a lab inspector with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan.
“Sometimes the physician won’t get the result as quickly as we were able to provide it before,” she explained.
“If you’ve ever been on the other end of getting that result, you want to get that result as quickly as possible.”
Christine Nielsen with the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Technologists said the situation is only going to get worse.
“About 25 per cent of our members will become eligible to retire in the next five years,” said Nielson.
Nielson said it is hitting rural and remote communities the hardest.
Saskatoon hosted Canada’s Premier Laboratory Science Conference over the weekend, bringing together professionals from across the country.
Saskatchewan lab technologist Pat Verbeke attended the conference and says the shortage has brought a lot of stress into her workplace.
“I’ve seen our numbers of people working on the floor decreasing year by year,” said Verbeke.
Katchmer said recruitment efforts at local colleges have been successful, but programs need internships to fill and they aren’t always available.
SIAST has a program in Saskatoon, but Katchmer said it needs to expand to fill the need.
“The program enrollments here are only at 20 and we’re concerned that they may not be able to replace the number of practitioners leaving,” said Katchmer.
Medical laboratory science is the fourth largest profession in health care.