New Interior Health hiring requirements spark outcry among lab staff – Okanagan

A new initiative to hopefully address what is being called an urgent need for lab staff in the inland health region is causing an outcry from trained lab assistants.

New job openings for a laboratory phlebotomist, whose main role is to draw blood, only require a 10th grade and one year of relevant experience.

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

In an email to Global News, an Interior Health lab assistant said the new assignments made their education obsolete.

“This is a major public safety issue and a kick in the teeth for the front line lab assistants who have worked so hard to now be undermined by Interior Health,” wrote an assistant from Interior Health laboratory, to whom Global News provided anonymity. protect their jobs.

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

“The role of the phlebotomist is strictly focused on blood collection or a puncture. So it’s about merging that task that is part of a medical lab assistant’s scope of practice and just focusing on blood collection,” said Joanne Isber, Corporate Program Director of Health Services. Interior Health Pathology and Laboratory.

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“There is a 12-week program which includes theory and eight weeks of practical placements in hospitals to support their training. And to ensure that they are competent in what we expect of them.

Isber went on to say that the majority of medical laboratory assistants (MLAs) who complete the program at Thompson Rivers University receive an eight-week internship.

“We also give an eight-week internship with the phlebotomist with a focus just on the venipuncture (blood draw) collection and the process around it,” Isber said.

“MPs from other programs have a broader scope of practice. They learn more about the other disciplines of laboratory medicine, including microbiology, pathology and transfusion. And we have lab assistants working in all of those disciplines.

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

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“The job description was developed in accordance with the collective agreement in terms of process and classification benchmarks. The organization does not award compensation, it is done through collective bargaining,” Isber said.

Interior Health has already hired five phlebotomists and hopes to hire 11 to 12 more. This is in addition to the 60 vacancies in the region for medical laboratory assistants.

“MPs are essential to the laboratory program and to our health care system, so there is no intention to eliminate the collection of them. This phlebotomist role is really to complement the MLA, to take some of the workload off with the high vacancies we’re seeing,” Isber said.

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

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