Rajwant Johal, cMLA/TMLPAO is an MLA/T specializing in phlebotomy in the Emergency Department at Brampton Civic Hospital. After finishing a year of her BSc, she immigrated from India to Canada and began studying in healthcare. She has worked in many different roles, from CML Healthcare, to a doctor’s office, to LifeLabs. Her team recognizes her as an expert in working with the hardest-to-find veins.
WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY WORK AND WHAT DO YOUR MAIN DUTIES THERE INCLUDE?
I work with William Osler Health System at the Brampton Civic Hospital Emergency Department (ED). My main duties include phlebotomy on all ages of patients, performing electrocardiograms, and collecting urine samples. I do quality control for equipment. Sending samples to the main lab and training nurses and other clinical staff with correct procedures regarding blood collection are also part of my regular routine.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO GET INTO THIS FIELD?
I always had a passion to work in the health care field! I was newly immigrated to Canada and started looking at career options. In the end it came to making a choice between a dental hygienist or a medical lab technician. I chose medical lab technician because you get
to work in variety of different settings—hospitals, labs, patient centres, pharmaceutical companies, doctor’s offices and many more.
IF YOU HAVE A SPECIALIZATION, WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO GET INTO THAT SPECIFIC FIELD?
My specialization is phlebotomy. It is a skill that you acquire over the years with a lot of practice. I feel very valuable when I can find the veins of a patient who has extremely hard to find veins to draw blood from.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET INTO YOUR CURRENT JOB (I.E. WHERE HAVE YOU WORKED BEFORE, ANY SPECIAL COURSES, ETC.)?
After finishing my MLA/T diploma and successfully challenging the MLPAO MLA/T Certification exam, I started working part time at CML healthcare patient centres and also at a doctor’s office. Then soon an opportunity became available to work at LifeLabs, and I worked there a couple of years. Finally, an opportunity became available in the form of a pilot project at the BCH Emergency Department and I applied. After having my interview and checking my references I started working at BCH. It has been 12 years already and every day working here feels amazing. I feel like I grew while working there—the job taught me a lot about being responsible.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN YOUR POSITION?
Having to work with all ages of patients is a challenge and a learning experience everyday! When kids come in, you’re not only dealing with the kid but also their family. As a parent, I take my eldest to the hospital for bloodwork often, but because I’m an MLA/T I understand the process. Sometimes the parents don’t understand why you’re taking blood from their kid. You have to explain it to them in a way they understand, take them into confidence. Older patients, cancer patients, it’s hard to get their veins sometimes. In the ED, you get everyone from the easiest patients to the hardest patients. If I have a shift where there are a couple of patients that are hard to do, and I can get their veins, that’s a good shift. When they call you over, you are the expert, people recognize you for that.
IF YOU WERE TO PICTURE AN IDEAL FUTURE FOR THE MEDICAL LABORATORY INDUSTRY IN ONTARIO, WHAT WOULD THAT LOOK LIKE?
My ideal future would be getting more recognition from the province. Laboratories are working day and night to get COVID-19 testing results. Whether you’re working in an emergency department or in the lab, medical laboratory professionals are putting in hours around the clock to get results for people. You’re still at risk. It makes you feel underappreciated. Everyone should be included in Pandemic Pay.
IF YOU WERE TO GIVE ADVICE TO STUDENTS IN MLT OR MLA/T PROGRAMS (OR RECENT GRADUATES), WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THEM?
Work hard, give your best, and practice makes everyone perfect. Never give up and give your 100% and you will achieve success in your career! Don’t give up what you love, be passionate about it. Whenever you get a job opportunity, even somewhere far away, and
it’s possible for you to go grab that chance, do it! It’s about getting the practice you need and getting into the field. Even though it’s not close to home, you get experience and a chance to be a part of a team. Don’t be scared of trying anything. When I got my first job, it was 2 hours by bus one way. I would wake up at 5 to get there in time. But it gave me
so much experience and skill, it was worth it.
IF YOU WERE TO START YOUR CAREER OVER, WOULD YOU DO IT ALL AGAIN?
Yes, definitely. No regrets whatsoever.