The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) established the A.R. Shearer Pride of the Profession Award in honour of Mr. Archie Shearer, CM, BA, FCSMLS, who was recognized with the Order of Canada for his contribution to Canadian health care during his service as CSMLS’s Executive Director from 1961-1980.
Each year it is awarded to select professionals who “demonstrate pride through their leadership, outstanding achievements and commitment to excellence in the practice of medical laboratory science”. Recipients are those “who not only promote positive morale through a congenial, supportive attitude and provide service to others but consistently go above and beyond what is normally expected in all aspects of their professional and personal life; reaching beyond the walls of their department/organization to consistently enhance the image of the profession.”
Anderson College’s Medical Laboratory Program Chair, Dr. Rafik Ragheb, is indeed such an extraordinary professional and leader. Practicing in the field of med lab science for more than 25 years, he has received numerous national and international awards for his outstanding work. He has served as a Council Member for the CMLTO’s Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC), holds his status with the Ministry of Health as a Medical Laboratory Director (Ontario Regulation 682, section 6 (1) class of Biochemistry), currently Ontario regulation 45/22 – January 31, 2022 under Laboratory and Specimen Collection Centre Licensing Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. L.1 and is a member of the Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists and the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. Dr. Ragheb is integral to the development and delivery of Anderson College’s Medical Laboratory program and is truly dedicated to empowering students as they receive the education and support required to succeed as future medical laboratory professionals.
We had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dr. Ragheb about his reaction to receiving this award and discussing what continues to inspire and motivate him, the future of the med lab profession, his advice for future students and his future goals.
We are deeply honoured to have Dr. Ragheb as a member of our Anderson College team and appreciate his taking the time to share his insights with us.
We asked how Dr. Ragheb felt about receiving this prestigious A.R. Shearer Award, what it represents for him.
“This is, of course, a great honour. As you know, the CSMLS has a national voice, is a national organization serving medical professionals across Canada, so I was absolutely delighted to be selected as the recipient of the 2023 A.R. Shearer Pride of the Profession Award. To be recognized for my work of almost 30 years in the field of medical laboratory in Canada, as a professional and educator, is a great honour, accomplishment, and wonderful news.
“I feel it is an outstanding outcome for my career. It represents my commitment to my career journey, from practicing lab medicine back home for five years before I arrived here, and then my continual pursuit of practicing within the medical lab science field here in Canada.
“A member of CSMLS will actually come to Anderson College to create a special moment and present the award to me with my colleagues present and follow that up with an article in their CSMLS magazine. It is truly wonderful that CSMLS recognizes professionals in our field this way.”
What was the application process like?
“Although you are applying, as are many viable applicants and professionals across the country, being selected is a complete surprise. There is an application process and certain requirements that must be met, including endorsement from your employer and a second nominee.
“It is competitive, so I provided them with tangible evidence of my achievements. I wanted to get my certification when I arrived in Canada, so I joined CSMLS, and since then, for the last 27 years, I have been working actively with the CSMLS. I got awards before which supported my career development as well. I attended a number of conferences in California and Los Angeles and during that time, I was also doing my doctorate. I have been teaching with Anderson College since 2015 and we’ve done a lot of work here in the field of medical lab, especially for our Medical Laboratory Technician program. And this laid the foundation for our ability to launch our new Medical Lab Technologist program to support the industry and future professionals. This is what Anderson College has contributed to my career. I’ve been privileged to have this opportunity to work on so many levels – accreditation, curriculum development etc… It is an outstanding honour to be a participant and a contributor to this development at Anderson.”
What continues to inspire you in this field and what motivates you to train and lead new med lab professionals?
“If I’m summarizing what continues to inspire me in the field, I’d like to say a few words about why the practice of lab medicine is so pivotal … it impacts the diagnosis of a disease; this is what we do. The test results can be detrimental for impacting the life of a patient. I have witnessed, firsthand, the impact this has after working in the lab for many years. And basically, that monitoring – that, actually impacts the final outcome for patient’s health. We saw this during the pandemic – how lab test results, especially in relation to COVID-19, were so important to have. So, this impact we have is definitely what inspires me. Lab medicine, as a field, as a practice, is always evolving. It unfolds new information, new discoveries, and it also adds new technologies for medical diagnostics.
“What motivates me to train and lead new lab assistants or technicians into the profession? With my involvement of the last decade in academic teaching and, working specifically with this program, I have been involved with the progress. The medical lab technology practice has developed and reached a momentum, leading to the development of a ‘standardized practice’ that is tightly aligned with the national competencies’ standard. We aligned our program to these requirements and, as such, were able to have our program accredited by accreditation Canada. As I mentioned before, I was privileged to be part of the team (since 2015) working on the curriculum development and accreditation. I joined Anderson in 2015 and started to work on attaining and achieving accreditation (Accreditation Canada) very carefully for Anderson’s downtown campus. Our downtown campus was the first campus to achieve this accreditation goal. It was quite straightforward actually, and for six years we were granted the accreditation. Then, as you can see, with Anderson’s expansion many campuses joined, and implemented the same program successfully.
“So, the big motivation was the attainment of the requirement of accreditation, working with our regulatory bodies and educational stakeholders. We have advanced in our didactic delivery systems, implementing various teaching methods. During the pandemic, also, we got to do the online delivery by implementing different platforms. This is actually an amazing achievement, using the hybrid model that combines both online teaching (theory) and campus attendance for laboratory sessions and practice (practical). Simulation is an educational tool for teaching our students how to practice competencies. Simulation has been implemented and integrated into our curriculum as a new innovative method of teaching. In addition, we have utilized a learning management system (LMS) by implementing Moodle portal teaching and Simtics for simulation.
How do you see the profession and, in general, medical lab sciences evolving? What future can medical lab professionals expect in this field?
“If I look into the profession, how it was, et cetera, for medical lab, it is obvious that it will continue to evolve at all levels, by applying new technologies and new discoveries as they come about. In the field of science, there is a machinery of research ongoing, and the outcome of this research is basically developing new methods to diagnose and assess patients. To take those technologies into lab practice, this will be an ongoing process, as a new innovation to support the scope of practice. Also, the MLA/T profession will continue to evolve to deem the competency levels as required.
“Although the technical work of an MLA/T is under direct supervision of a technologist, doctors, directors etc., (Ontario regulation 45/22). Now, MLA(s) are also contributing to the testing process occurring in our laboratories. So, MLA(s) are basically contributing to pre-analytical and analytical, under direct supervision. A good example is the point of care (POCT)s testing. MLA(s) get to be involved heavily in POCT(s) testing and a lot of organizations and hospitals allocate funding and assign a budget for this active role in their facilities. This is new addition for MLA practice and will continue to grow. POCT is a very powerful tool and it gives very fast results and allows the clinicians or the doctor who is monitoring his or her patient, to make very quick decisions in terms of diagnostics, monitoring, drug therapy or drug plans or treatments. It increases the efficacy of the treatment plan as well.
“As far as the future of the MLA(s), as I mentioned before, these professionals will continue to have a pivotal role in diagnostic settings. This will continue to grow by involving them in more practices. This may add to the current scope of practice. We have seen this in the last three years during the pandemic in Ontario and across Canada as well, for lab licensing and accreditation, it will continue. The intention is to have accurate test results and also to shorten the turnaround time that is required to develop these test results.”
What would be the greatest advice you could give someone who is looking to enter this profession?
“My best advice is to pursue this field with passion and dedication. These are the keys to success. To me, actually, it is a must for medical professionals. In addition, continuing education, as it is a requirement as well. You have to sustain your level of knowledge and keep current with new information or technologies that are in practice. If you want to join and progress in this field you need to continually expand your knowledge, skills, and competencies; you must be motivated in this.”
What are your next goals or objectives professionally, but also how do you plan on continuing to promote the field of medical lab sciences?
“As I mentioned, the field of laboratory medicine affects patients directly and affects physicians’ decisions for treatment plans. So, my next goal is to continue inspiring and educating new medical lab candidates for developing new generations with a standardized and UpToDate practice. I believe this is an excellent way of transferring the knowledge, the skills from one generation to the next.
“I’m taking that lead here with Anderson, and every year we see new students as new sprouts full of energy and skills. I am so happy to see my students move forward to graduate after empowering them with knowledge and practical skills on so many levels. It’s not just about giving them an education, but also giving them the skills to succeed and sustain their level of success moving forward in their careers. Definitely, I will continue to look at this as an opportunity to advance education. I will also continue to practice lab medicine. And what’s so important as well is to find new ways of delivering the didactics, competencies based on evidence, like research-based evidence and enhancing the teaching of medical lab science with patient-centred focus as our primary goal.”
Would you like to add anything else?
Med lab science is developing very fast, and the world continues to advance. I will just add one example. You know scientists succeeded in deciphering the whole genome sequence of human.
It means actually this is a new area as well that will continue to develop with hope for curing disease. It means any genetic defect that exists in the nuclear material, there is basically a hope to correct it. We hear about many, many solutions, gene therapy, and so on. But meanwhile, what is required is to have good, validated techniques as well as methods to measure that success in our diagnostic laboratories.
So, this is where we stand, with molecular diagnostics applications. I would say that the practice of lab medicine will be moving in a new direction as well by implementing those methods. This will open a lot of opportunities for medical lab professionals in general, on so many levels, technicians, technologists, scientists, doctors, etc. It’s an exciting time to be in this field and with limitless opportunities for our professionals.”
Are you ready to launch your career in this exciting and advancing field? If you’re still exploring how to align your interests with a profession, take the “Anderson College Career Training Readiness Quiz”. If you’re all set to start your Med Lab Science career or explore our 30+ program, book a virtual appointment to speak with an admissions advisor. We’re here to help you navigate your way.