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How to Start your Medical Laboratory Science Career in Canada

Wednesday | May 31, 2017 | by Bessie Carydis

medical laboratory science

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) is the national association and certifying body for medical laboratory professionals in Canada. CSMLS also offers prior learning services of internationally trained medical laboratory technologists (IEMLTs) for all provinces and territories except for Quebec.

CSMLS administers the certification exam and Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) services under contract to all provincial regulators except for Quebec.

CSMLS is committed to evidence-based research for PLA policies that align to industry best practices and all Fairness Commissioner requirements to ensure that the process is fair, transparent, objective, impartial, efficient, effective, and does not create artificial barriers for IEMLTs.

IEMLTs have the opportunity to establish eligibility for the CSMLS national certification examinations through a PLA.

CSMLS offers clients with the choice to start the PLA process in their country of origin which includes:

  • Self-assessments
  • Language proficiency testing
  • An application for technical reports
  • Gap-filling (can be completed offshore)
  • A language fluency test (for example, TOEFL, IELTS, Can Test, and MELA)

Note: The CSMLS certification exam is offered only in Canada. For more information, please visit the CSMLS website.

Tips on Getting Started

Here are the requirements for assessment:

  • Verification of education
  • Course outlines
  • Third-party agency credential authentication of degrees/diplomas
  • Certification(s)
  • Detailed work history (most vulnerable—difficult to authenticate)
  • Continuing education (domestic or international)
  • Proof of language fluency
  • Self-assessment 

Below are the five steps you should follow:

1. Contact the regulator of the province you want to work in for information about their licensing requirements.

A medical laboratory technologist (MLT) is a regulated profession in all provinces in Canada except for British Columbia (BC), Prince Edward Island (PEI), and the Territories. Regulation has been announced for BC and the college is expected to operate in the next 12 to 18 months. Provincial legislation (which is the law) requires individuals to get a license to work as an MLT in all regulated provinces in Canada.

Only individuals who are registered (or licensed) with their regulatory college are allowed to work in that province as an MLT. Qualification recognition is the responsibility of the provincial regulators. However, regulatory bodies acknowledge the expertise and history of CSMLS in certification and PLA. For these reasons, CSMLS offers these services under contracts to the provincial regulators. Contact the regulator of the province where you are interested in working for specific information.

2. Take time to research immigrating to Canada on PLA and MLT certification.

The Atlantic Connection’s website provides valuable information on working as an MLT in Canada. Atlantic Connection’s Self-Assessment and Readiness tools provide information on what to expect when immigrating to Canada and relative information on PLA and certification for MLT.

3. Have your credentials evaluated before leaving your home country.

Credentialing can be achieved from before immigrating to Canada to save time. Official transcripts must be verified by a credentialing agency such as World Education Services (WES) or International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES). Both require that all documents be sent directly by the issuing institution or appropriate authority. Incomplete applications may result in unnecessary delays.

4. Get your file assessed and follow the instructions on the eligibility letter.

When all transcripts and documents are received and your file is complete, including your medical laboratory science credentials, your file will be assigned to a subject matter expert PLA assessor. Most assessments are completed within six weeks. Once your assessment is complete, you will receive a letter with the outcome of the PLA assessment.

A letter detailing the results of your assessment will be mailed to you, including information on next steps. If we need more information from you or your school, we will request supplemental information at no extra cost and your file will be on hold until the additional information is received and forwarded to the PLA assessor. An eligibility letter will be mailed to you with instructions on how to proceed to write the CSMLS certification exam letter. A copy of this PLA eligibility exam letter must be submitted to the provincial regulator of the province you want to work in after passing the CSMLS certification exam.

5. Submit your application to sit for the exam.

The exam is a two-part exam, which you have to complete on the same day. The exam is administered three times a year in February, June, and October. You must apply within the application deadlines and submit the exam fee at the time of application. The application form can be found here.

When you have passed the exam, contact the regulatory body in your province and let them know you want to get registered to work.

The CSMLS Canadian standards do not align perfectly with any other country in the world. If you have any questions, please visit the CSMLS website.

Bessie Carydis

Bessie Carydis, M Med Sci (Cytol), BHA, ART, is the Director of Certification & Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) for the Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS).

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of World Education Services (WES).