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DeltaSierra
01-22-2012, 05:31 AM
I've been mulling this over the last week, as to how to write this out. I apologize beforehand if it gets a bit messy.

Many of you know, I went back to school last January to become a Medical Laboratory Technologist. I'd successfully completed Levels 1 and 2, and when I went back to class Jan 9 I began Level 3 - at the end of this level, I'd begin doing a 10-month hospital clinical. Then I'd write the exam, and start looking for work :). I already did a 2 week phlebotomy clinical this past summer and loved it. It really cemented in my mind that working in health care was what I wanted, and I did a damn good job and got excellent feedback from my clinical proctors.

Well, I'm no longer in school, I had to withdraw from my program last Friday. Not because of grades, finances, or anything like that. I was academically in good standing, and doing well according to all my instructors, but it turns out that of all things, my deafness has once again prevented me from moving forward in life.

When I was accepted into the MLSC (Medical Laboratory SCience) program, my deafness was discussed, and I was told that there may be some issues or difficulties that would need to be dealt with, but nobody hinted that my deafness would be a complete roadblock to graduating. You see the program (and the licensing body, CSMLS - Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science ) requires that I be able to report laboratory findings over the phone, and that's not something I can do. There isn't any way this could be changed, or even have some kind of accomodations made (like having a TTY in the lab, etc) because it would require every other department to have one too, and occasionally I'd have to receive calls (or make them to make reports) offsite, etc. This is a mandatory competency and if it can't be achieved, I can't graduate.

For the record, although I'm deaf, I have a cochlear implant. I was able to complete all of my lectures, my labs and my clinical without the assistance of an interpereter. I can hear fine with my CI, I have perfect speech, so communication "face to face" is not an issue. However I can only use the phone with immediate family members (whose voices I'm familiar with) and even then that depends on the phone I'm using and how much background noise there is at a given moment.


It just galls me that nobody told me in black and white that if I couldn't use a freaking telephone, I wouldn't be able to do my Clinical or graduate. The only consolation I have is that I have all the experience and requirements to become a medical laboratory assistant (which I will be applying to this coming week to get my certification paperwork,) which means I can do phlebotomy (blood drawing) and some minor lab work but that's it.

I was told I could stay and complete Level 3, but there were some courses (Clinical Chemistry, and others) that I'd not be able to pass due to my inability to meet the reporting/communication competencies, and even then, when I got to my Clinical, I'd not be able to pass that either, so in the end, after talking to my Clinical advisor, my program head and the Health Sciences dean, we all agreed I better cut my losses and withdraw instead of spending thousands of dollars more learning things I'd not be able to use.

I hate that I spent 2 years getting all my prerequisites done, another year in college, and for WHAT? To get a Lab Assistant certificate that I could have gotten 3 years ago with only 6 months of classes 3x a week!!! Granted I know 100x more than a laboratory assistant since I've done microbiology, clinical chemistry, hematology, blood banking, molecular diagnostics, etc, but I feel like life's hit me upside the head with a 2X4 and is now sitting back and laughing at me for daring to think I could become something better. I've dealt with my deafness being a barrier to SO many things, and for once I had thought that finally, I had overcome that.

Guess not.

So, next week as I said I apply for my lab assistant certs, once I get them, I'll be looking for a job. Just not the job I REALLY wanted to do....

bhskittykatt
01-22-2012, 10:21 AM
That...that blows. You have my sympathies.

I hope you somehow find a way to use all that extra knowledge in the field. With that extra coursework, maybe a new door will open up down the line somewhere. Hope the best works out for you.

kansasgal
01-22-2012, 11:38 AM
I'm so sorry to hear that. I can relate about the school, because I am currently finishing my degree in Social Work, and having done all the prerequisites took much more time then the actual SW classes. I hope that you are able to use the knowledge that you have gained somewhere, and that you find a job that you are happy with.

It's me
01-22-2012, 03:53 PM
That sucks. I would think with all of the technology we have today there would be a solution to this! I take it that a cochlear phone-adapter doesn't help?

csquared
01-22-2012, 07:41 PM
You may want to talk to a career counsellor at a different college, possibly non-medical. They may have a different idea on how you can apply your skills.

DeltaSierra
01-22-2012, 08:34 PM
That sucks. I would think with all of the technology we have today there would be a solution to this! I take it that a cochlear phone-adapter doesn't help?

Adaptors can help in some situations but it depends - if I'm calling somebody who'se in an emergency room full of people crying/yelling, no it won't help, or if the person I'm calling has a difficult accent, etc. There are so many variables and even with practice I don't always understand my immediate family members over the phone, so that's something I could't do with 100% confidence.

auntiem
01-22-2012, 11:56 PM
You may want to talk to a career counsellor at a different college, possibly non-medical. They may have a different idea on how you can apply your skills.

This! I would check around with other schools, with transcripts in hand to see if you are close to getting another kind of certification. It is possible that you are well on your way to a different type of lab work - say environmental testing which is a lucrative job around here.

Also, that rule sucks. In what situation are you going to be the only person in the lab anyways? Reporting lab results over the phone isn't even CYA - you would still need to back it up with a paper report for the patient's chart. What are you supposed to be able to do call and say "isolate that patient ASAP he has zombieitis!"

DeltaSierra
01-23-2012, 12:16 AM
This! I would check around with other schools, with transcripts in hand to see if you are close to getting another kind of certification. It is possible that you are well on your way to a different type of lab work - say environmental testing which is a lucrative job around here.

Also, that rule sucks. In what situation are you going to be the only person in the lab anyways? Reporting lab results over the phone isn't even CYA - you would still need to back it up with a paper report for the patient's chart. What are you supposed to be able to do call and say "isolate that patient ASAP he has zombieitis!"

LOL that made me laugh - but there could be situations where Dr's are waiting on a STAT lab test before going a head with treat ment or even surgery - in that kind of situation I have to run a test and make a phone report in a 5 min window.

yeahwhatev
01-23-2012, 10:08 AM
What about a speech to text translator?

Dave1982
01-23-2012, 10:45 AM
While I can certainly see the point that not being able to use a phone would be a problem, I don't see how this would be an insurmountable one. It sounds to me like someone (not you, Delta) isn't thinking it through.

The job you want is the exact job my mother's had for the last 30 years. I've picked up enough to know that - at least at her hospital - there are always at least 4 or 5 people on duty in the lab at any given time, and only 1 person is usually assigned to answer the phone. This is what they call the "desk" position. The reason is simple: you can't interrupt a batch of tests to stop and answer the phone.

Desk is usually a preferred assignment at her lab, because it means that you can sit down and won't be running around all night.

The point is, it would be this desk person who would handle all of this stuff, so you probably would not have to worry about the phone. And even if your duties would require phoning up reports/results to someone, it should be a simple matter to hand the results to someone and say "Could you call the ER and give them these test results for patient X? They need them ASAP."

It just seems so stupid to make that an issue, especially since (around here at least) there's a shortage of qualified medical lab technologists.

I'll have to ask my mother about this and get her input.

DeltaSierra
01-23-2012, 11:39 PM
The point is, it would be this desk person who would handle all of this stuff, so you probably would not have to worry about the phone. And even if your duties would require phoning up reports/results to someone, it should be a simple matter to hand the results to someone and say "Could you call the ER and give them these test results for patient X? They need them ASAP."

It just seems so stupid to make that an issue, especially since (around here at least) there's a shortage of qualified medical lab technologists.

I'll have to ask my mother about this and get her input.

I talked to my clinical placement advisor as well as my clinical chemistry instructors about this, but they told me that I had to be able to pass the phone "tests" to pass the competency requirements (skills assessments) and in turn, pass the class. There are also "communication competencies" that I have to pass in my hospital clinical placement and if I can't meet all competencies (and phone is included,) I can't pass the clinical and therefore, can't pass the program.

The program head told me that they also can't make allowances for my deafness on those as when I take the licensing test and get my certification, the cert essentially means I can work autonomously in a lab - and I can't- as I'd need somebody else to make the phone calls for me (as asked before - I can't use voice-to-text as its not 100% reliable and not something that the hospitals can rely on in the event of a lawsuit - its a legal requirement to have verbal confirmation.)

Perhaps I'll be in a situation where I can work as an advocate to make changes so that other deaf people CAN become lab techs, as more hospitals are starting to use electronic communication more and in some hospitals in the States, Dr's are carrying iPads to get instant results as soon as they're entered in the computers. That's not reached Canada yet and probably won't for a few years, and even then, competencies and whatnot would need to be changed.

Its not a case that I can't do what's required of me as a laboratory technician, but stupid legal requirements that must be met.

auntiem
01-24-2012, 08:00 PM
How close to the border are you? As Dave says there is a shortage of qualified lab techs in many areas which would mean you could qualify for a work visa. It may mean a student visa first to complete the US version of your certification.

Just throwing that out there, where I live is so close to the border that I have friends that work in Canada and have worked with Canadians here. Some commute every day and some keep apartments during the week and come home on weekends.

Is your heart set on working in a medical lab? Because I still think you may be well on your way to a certification in Environmental health and safety lab work given what you have discribed as your course work completed so far.

Akasa
01-26-2012, 12:22 AM
I'm sorry. /hugs

Dave1982
01-26-2012, 01:35 AM
I mentioned this to my mother. Her opinion is that it probably would be an issue unless you were working in a lab with a fairly large staff. She may be speaking form her experience as a third-shift lab tech, as third-shift is basically a skeleton crew.

However, she said there shouldn't be any reason why you couldn't take the skills you've learned and get a job in a research lab where the environment doesn't demand immediate verbal communication of test results.

Sorry, I was hoping to get a better answer than that. :/