Welcome to Medical Lab Science: A Student’s Perspective

To get this blog started, I’d like to tell you a bit more about myself and how I got here.

But first, a quick look at the present:

I’m a month into level 2 of the medical laboratory science program here at BCIT (it is 5 levels – aka semesters – long, including a 10-month practicum).

What is it exactly that med lab techs (MLT) do? We take virtually any bodily fluid, test it, and send the reports to the doctor so they can diagnose patients or make decisions on treatment options. I’ll get more into the nitty gritty of what that looks like in future posts!

What can you expect from reading my blogs?

  • You’ll learn more about what we learn to become MLTs – lots of pics and videos I hope
  • I’ll share techniques I use to succeed as a student at BCIT (believe me, you need them)
  • You’ll see what student life is like here at BCIT

My Journey to BCIT

For my going away present, my work got me a lab tech starter kit

So how did I get here? It’s a bit of a long story, if you’ll indulge me.

When I first moved out west from my home province of Saskatchewan, I lived in Prince George for a year. A friend of mine that I worked with at Starbucks attended a local college to become an MLT. Although it seemed interesting to me, I didn’t give it any serious though at the time because I had other plans.

I moved to Vancouver area in 2009 and attended the professional writing program at Douglas College. There, I learned the theory behind and practical applications of workplace and technical writing: from technical manuals, to operating procedures, to reports. After graduation, I began working as an office administrator/receptionist.

The job was extremely generalist. I did everything from filing, to creating and conducting surveys, to designing marketing materials for events. It was there I was really able to sort through what I liked doing: working systematically, designing and following procedures, being organized, and doing work that requires attention to detail. During my long commute I also rediscovered my passion for biological and health sciences through reading books like Microcosm and listening to podcasts like the Naked Scientists and Science AAAS.

Then, one day as I walked to work, a BC Biomedical Laboratories van drove by me. It triggered memories of my friend in Prince George, and I got curious. I went home and researched the program, and realized medical lab science seemed like a great fit for me.

I applied as soon as I could. I was nervous I didn’t have enough of a science background, even though I met all the prerequisites, so I was quite excited when I got the email saying I had been invited to the multi mini interviews.

Still, I tried to keep my hopes realistic; I knew competition was pretty stiff. When I got talking some of the people who were also interviewing there, I thought I had no chance. Everyone I spoke to seemed to have degrees – microbiology or molecular science, kinesiology, you name it.

While interviewing, I explained my background to one of the teachers and was surprised to hear that having strong writing skills is an essential part of success in the program. After starting, I realize how right he was. Report writing and documentation is a big part of this job, and will be even more so when we graduate.

Do I struggle more than some of my classmates who arrived with a stronger science background? Not much, actually. Occasionally there will be a theory portion we learn that I have to put more effort into than those who may have encountered it before. In the end, it’s a really technical, hands-on program, and most of what we are learning is new to all of us.

So. Why am I blabbing on about this?

If you’re contemplating a big career change like I did, I encourage you to bring everything you have to the table when applying. This career requires a specific set of qualities for one to be successful. You need to be able to problem solve, follow procedures, communicate well, and pay attention to detail, and you need to be adaptable, coordinated and organized. But there are lot of diverse backgrounds that shape a person to have the above qualities.

Education is only part of it.

2 thoughts on “Welcome to Medical Lab Science: A Student’s Perspective”

  1. It is so good to see that you are doing this Laurie! Good write up about yourself and the program you are in. You are such a smart and diligent girl! I know you will do well.

    • Thanks mom! I’m enjoying it so much! Keep an eye out for the video I’ll be posting soon 😉 you can see what I get up to every day.


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