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HomeNationalUproar among lab staff over new Interior Health hiring requirements - Okanagan...

Uproar among lab staff over new Interior Health hiring requirements – OkanaganTAZAA News

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A new initiative to hopefully address what is being called an urgent need for lab personnel in the Interior Health region is generating buzz from trained lab assistants.

New job postings for lab phlebotomist whose main role is drawing blood, only 10th standard education and relevant experience is required.

The job description, however, is similar to a lab assistant role, requiring up to one year of post-secondary education.

In an email to Global News, an interior health lab assistant said the new postings made their education obsolete.

“This is a major public safety issue and one that front-line lab assistants are now working very hard to undermine,” wrote an Interior Health lab assistant who spoke on condition of anonymity to Global News. Protect their employment.

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According to Interior Health, the lab phlebotomist role is new and requires on-the-job training.

“The phlebotomist role is strictly focused on being a blood collection or puncture. So, it’s breaking up that work that’s part of the medical laboratory assistant scope of practice and it’s just focusing on the blood collection piece,” said Joanne Isbar, director of Interior Health’s pathology and laboratory services corporate program.

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“There’s a 12-week program with theory and eight weeks of practicum to support their training in the hospitals. And to make sure they’re competent at what we want them to do.”

Isber said the majority of medical lab assistants (MLA) who go through the Thompson Rivers University program get an eight-week practicum.

“We also offer an eight-week internship with a phlebotomist focusing on venipuncture collection (drawing blood) and the process surrounding it,” Isbar said.

“The MLAs coming from other programs, their scope of practice is bigger. They learn more about other areas of laboratory medicine, understanding microbiology and pathology and transfusion. And we’ve got lab assistants working in all those departments.


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Salaries are also similar between the two positions. A lab phlebotomist lists a starting salary of $24.04 compared to a starting salary of $25.31 for a lab assistant.

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“The job description is developed in accordance with the collective agreement in terms of process and classification benchmarks. The company does not allocate the compensation component, it is done through collective bargaining,” Isbar said.

Interior Health has already hired five phlebotomists and expects to hire 11 to 12 more. This is above 60 vacancies in the region for Medical Lab Assistants.

“The MLAs are so important to the lab program and to our health care system that there is no intention of removing collection from them. That phlebotomist role is really to complement the MLA, to alleviate some of the workload with the high vacancies we’re seeing,” Isber said.

“This is an opportunity for us to be innovative and really make sure we can make procurement services available to our patients in the community and in acute care.”


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© 2022 Global News, a division of Chorus Entertainment Inc.

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