By: Anonymous - MLT, 20+ Years of Service
When I think of “staffing shortages” and “crisis” I can’t really say that I ever thought of my profession in that way. A staff shortage in the lab use to be a sick call at 6 AM for the 7 AM shift that resulted in calls out to part-timers who will come in a pinch to fill the gap. A crisis is an analyzer that has gone down and service can’t make it out of the city for 4-6 hours so the back up analyzer is revved up to complete the morning run. These are things we deal with in our day to day lives in the lab, but provincial staffing shortage is our new crisis and it is affecting us all in ways we did not ever imagine.
I work in a medium-sized rural hospital not far from the GTA. I have worked there for more than 10 years in the core lab. We have a mix of very long-term employees (15-25 years) as well as a group of new techs(1-3 years). A few years ago we lost our micro- and histo- labs to another hospital lab and our technicians daily routines have changed dramatically as they have gone from mostly direct patient contact to send out specimen processing clerks.
We seem to attract many new grads who will work for us for 6-12 months, do the 6-8-week orientation period and then be thrown into the mix of shifts. After a few months they move back to "the city" to be closer to where they live, their families, their cultural support systems and jobs in hospitals in larger urban centers where staff retirements are happening and full-time positions are available.
Many of our part time staff are working two jobs and scheduling is a nightmare. Asking for time off or a shift switch is almost impossible and in the summer months many of the
full-time staff have been denied specifically requested vacation days so as not to create a staff availability shortage. This same situation has repeated itself for the past several summers.
The latest situation that has affected me personally is that I have been denied leave to have a needed surgery that I have been waiting for. My request was denied directly due to
concern that there will not be enough staff to fill my full-time line and cover the part-time vacancy that will be created.
This story continues in the Fall 2019 ADVOCATE, which contains stories from MLTs on the frontline of healthcare shortage. Coming soon to your mailbox or on our app! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the password.