Below is a communication sent to medical laboratory employers on December 23, 2021.
Thank you for your efforts as we continue to struggle through these challenging times.
Employers and lab leaders in our network are wrestling with a health human resources shortage of MLTs and increasing testing due to the Omicron variant is making it even more complex. Given the staffing shortages we’re already experiencing, we want to share solutions to help MLA/T students complete the final step of their programs so that they can join your workforce.
We have heard from MLA/T schools that they are struggling to find clinical placements for their students and many students are experiencing a 6-12 month wait to complete their clinical placement. During the pandemic, the MLPAO implemented a temporary accommodation allowing MLA/T students to write the MLPAO Certification Exam prior to having completed clinical placement; however, as placements were halted earlier in the pandemic, there is now a backlog of MLA/T students who have passed the MLPAO Certification Exam but cannot get an opportunity to complete their clinical placement.
Some MLA/T programs and employers have successfully partnered to allow MLA/Ts who have passed the MLPAO Certification Exam but have not yet completed their clinical placement to be hired as MLA/Ts in a laboratory. In this scenario, clinical placement requirements are completed, and competency manuals are signed off during the first 4-6 weeks of employment. Continued employment is contingent upon successful completion of the placement requirements.
Allowing MLA/T students to complete placement as part of employment benefits both the student and the employer. While the student is training, they are also completing their clinical placement competencies, and vice versa. We encourage you to consider this as an option to help get students a placement and get them into the workforce.
From a larger perspective, we know clinical placements were a bottleneck for labs even prior to the onset of the pandemic for both MLT and MLA/T students. This issue is an integral part of our Call to Action and we are working on this with the provincial government.
In the short term, we need to get creative and keep trying to find ways to get students into placement and MLA/Ts into the workforce. Without all of us doing our part, we fear a backlog of students requiring training could make the human resources shortage even worse in the long run.