Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How to Start your Medical Laboratory Science Career in Canada: A Guide for Internationally Educated Medical Laboratory Technologists

 How to Start your Medical Laboratory Science Career in Canada: A Guide for Internationally Educated Medical Laboratory Technologists

By Bessie Carydis
Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS)

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) is the national association and certifying body for medical laboratory professionals in Canada. CSMLS is also responsible for the credential evaluation of internationally educated medical laboratory technologists (IEMLTs) for all provinces and territories except for Quebec.

CSMLS administers the certification exam and PLA services under contract to all provincial regulators except for Quebec.


CSMLS is committed to evidence-based research for Prior Learning Assessment (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 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
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

Step 1: Find out what the licensing requirements are for the province or territory where you want to work.

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 licence to work as a MLT in all regulated provinces in Canada.

Only individuals who are registered (or licenced) with their regulated college are allowed to work in that province as a 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 which are often called regulatory colleges. Each regulator has its own requirements and you should contact the regulator in the province you plan on working in to find out what you need to apply for your medical laboratory licence.

Step 2: Make preparations before leaving your home country.
It is a good idea to know what it is like to live and work in Canada as an MLT before you immigrate. Visit Atlantic Connection’s website for useful information that gives you an idea of what the medical laboratory profession is like in Canada and provides resources that can help you learn about immigrating to 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.

Step 3: Get a credential evaluation from a verified agency.
You can complete the entire credentialing process from your home country before immigrating to Canada to save time and easily arrange for your official transcripts to be sent to the verified agency such as International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES) or World Education Services (WES). We require your documents to be sent directly to our office by the issuing institution or appropriate authority. If the received application is incomplete, this can result in lengthy delays.

Step 4: Receive your credential assessment results.
When we receive all of the documents we need to assess your medical laboratory science credentials, your file will be assigned to a subject matter expert PLA assessor. Most assessments are completed within six weeks and once your assessment is complete, we will send you a letter with the outcome of the PLA assessment.

The assessment results letter will provide you with detailed information about what you need to do next. 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. If you meet all of the requirements, we will send you a letter confirming that you are eligible to apply for the CSMLS certification exam. You must submit a copy of the PLA eligibility to exam letter to the provincial regulator of the province you wish to work in after passing the CSMLS certification exam.

Step 5: Sit for the CSMLS certification examination.
The exam is made up of two parts which you will have to complete within the same day. The exam is administered three times a year in February, June, and October. There are firm application deadlines for the exam, so be sure to submit your application ahead of time. All of the required forms and information can be found on our website.

Step 6: Contact the regulators once you have passed the examination.
When you have passed the exam, you will need to contact the regulator in the province where you want to work and let them know you want to get registered to work. Some provincial regulators will let you work with a temporary, restricted, or supervised licence to practise. Contact your provincial or territorial regulator to see if this is an option for you.

The medical laboratory sciences practice varies from country to country and not all international programs meet the CSMLS Canadian standards. We encourage you to visit our website for more information. If you have any questions, please email our certification and PLA administrator at pla@csmls.org


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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).

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