The staff shortages in medical laboratories, and dire patient needs across Canada, while infinitely challenging, have also sparked innovative solutions to address these concerns and expand healthcare educational opportunities. Anderson College’s Bridging Program for Internationally Educated Medical Laboratory Technologists (IEMLT) is one such extraordinary program. For those who are permanent residents/landed immigrants or have refugee status or Canadian citizenship and have had recent work experience as an MLT in a country where credentials are required, this may be a viable option for them and is certainly a terrific benefit to our Canadian healthcare system.
At Anderson College we are, of course, proud of this program and the opportunity it provides for the students we serve as they take their careers and lives to new levels, and for our communities that need their professional skills. But the value and impact of this program is really communicated most effectively by someone who has experienced it for themselves and found their way from application to graduation and passing the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) general MLT certification exam.
We’re thrilled that IEMLT graduate, Chadi Gharib, met with us to discuss his experience and insights on the program, the support received, and the outcomes he achieved. We hope his story ignites inspiration and action within newcomers with an MLT background looking to enhance their healthcare careers in Canada.
Chadi’s Background as an MLT in His Home Country.
“I graduated almost 26 years ago as a medical laboratory technologist in Lebanon, and I worked in this field for two years. After graduation, I worked in a hospital laboratory, as well as private labs in various departments, what we call disciplines, such as hematology, biochemistry, microbiology. Histology was not an extended experience then and I didn’t have experience with it, or with transfusion medicine, or “blood banking” as it was called then, as it was very primitive. After that, I went back to school to pursue another degree in biology.”
The Inspiration to Come to Canada and Pursue an MLT Career Here.
“I read great things about Canada and the MLT profession. Every country is different, and the way of thinking is also totally different. I noticed that the MLT profession in Canada is very well organized, regulated, and well paid. If you work hard, and with extensive experience and continuing education, MLTs can reach leadership levels in hospitals, private labs, and educational institutions. They can even teach in colleges. That made me choose Canada because I could continue my education and work toward taking my career to new levels.”
Chadi’s Prior Experience Before Attending the IEMLT Program at Anderson.
“I couldn’t work at the MLT level once I landed in Canada because you have to go back to school to complete some courses, gain equivalency, and get experience. So, 13 years ago, it was challenging for me to move to Toronto and attend a bridging program or refresher courses due to financial restraints. However, I obtained a certificate as a laboratory assistant and have been working in that position for over 10 years. I never experienced work at the technologist level in Canada before joining the bridging program.”
Chadi shared that he learned about Anderson College’s IEMLT program while doing research on viable bridging programs and saw the ads on social media. But we were most curious about what factors prompted Chadi to pursue the MLT path at this point and what made him choose Anderson specifically.
“I had attempted the CSMLS exam on my own, but unfortunately, I didn’t pass due to a lack of proper guidance and resources. I realized that I needed knowledgeable professionals to guide me and provide the right knowledge, information, and experience to succeed in the CSMLS exam. The bridging program seemed like the best fit for me, and Anderson College’s program crossed my path. Another factor was the influence of my MLT coworkers. I admired their analytical skills and wanted to be like them, but I wasn’t sure where to get that opportunity until I found Anderson College’s program.”
Program Elements Helping to Bridge Prior Learning with Canadian Standards.
“The most important aspect of the bridging program was the course related to the Canadian healthcare system. To work in Canada, you need to understand the Canadian healthcare system, which is significantly different from what I was accustomed to. This course encouraged discussions where students shared their views and opinions on various topics. It helped us gain a better understanding of how the Canadian healthcare system operates.
“All the various courses in the bridging program were valuable. However, the specific course that stands out for me was the one on transfusion medicine. This course covered various aspects, from blood components to separation techniques and in-depth knowledge about blood antigens, antibody identification, and transfusion reactions. It was particularly valuable because the modules provided by Anderson College were well-developed and comprehensive.”
Chadi Shares His Insights on the Support Received.
“The faculty and staff at Anderson College were incredibly supportive. They were knowledgeable and professional, always ready to assist. Whenever I had a question or concern, I received prompt responses. Frank, who worked closely with us on-site, was especially supportive, providing positive vibes and believing in our potential. Kim was also instrumental, addressing our questions and concerns. During the two-week practicum, Gemma, Shweta, Adela, and others were friendly, respectful, and professional, offering unwavering support.”
The Practicum Experience.
“The two-week practicum was condensed but more than sufficient for us. As we already had prior education in this field, we needed to bridge our knowledge to meet Canadian standards. The theoretical knowledge we gained over six or seven months before the practicum prepared us well. The practicum focused on areas crucial for the CSMLS exam, such as quality control, equipment usage and maintenance, setting up instruments, and reference intervals. These are essential skills for MLTs in Canada, and the practicum equipped us to excel in the job interviews were to face.”
We asked Chadi if the IEMLT program, honestly, prepared him for his role as an MLT in Canada?
“The program provided us with a solid foundation in both theoretical and practical knowledge. The practicum concentrated on key areas we needed for the CSMLS exam and our future roles as MLTs in Canada, such as quality control, equipment maintenance, and result interpretation. These skills are highly sought after in job interviews, and the program bridged the gap between our previous knowledge and Canadian standards.”
Career Services Support.
“The Career Services team took the initiative to connect with me before graduation. They helped me craft my resume and provided information about job opportunities. We even had presentations from institutions like Kingston Health Science Centre, offering insights into available jobs and how things work in the field. Their assistance was invaluable.”
Chadi’s Current Career Status and Where It’s Headed.
“I took my CSMLS exam in June and received my results four weeks later, by the end of July. Since I needed to work in the province I was residing in, Ontario, I applied for approval from the College of Medical Laboratory Technologists of Ontario (CMLTO). I obtained approval last week. When I graduated, I applied for jobs and attended interviews, but I couldn’t secure a position until I received approval. Now that I have it, I’ve received invitations for interviews, which I’m looking forward to.
The Impact of the IEMLT Program on Chadi’s Career and Life – In His Words.
“The bridging program has had a profound impact on me both emotionally and financially. It brought me happiness and a sense of accomplishment. Financially, it has improved my situation significantly. Most importantly, it boosted my self-confidence. I now have the knowledge, experience, and practical skills to confidently answer questions in interviews, particularly regarding instrumentation. Overall, the program was unforgettable, from the theoretical courses to the practical sessions. Meeting the professional team at Anderson who made our goals achievable is something I’ll never forget.”
Chadi’s Memorable and Transformative Experiences.
“Every moment at Anderson College, whether in theoretical or practical courses, was memorable. It was all a transformative experience. The program provided the guidance I needed to succeed, which I hadn’t found in previous attempts to pass the CSMLS exam. The support from the Anderson team, including those working behind the scenes, was unwavering. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone at Anderson College who made this journey possible.”
Chadi’s Advice for Internationally Educated MLTs.
“Don’t be afraid to join this program. It’s designed for people like us who need experienced professionals to lead us and provide the right knowledge and guidance. Take this opportunity seriously, study diligently, complete your assignments and exams on time, and be prepared to make some sacrifices. You might have to sacrifice family time and financial resources, but in the end, it will be worth it. The support you’ll receive from the staff is outstanding, and they are just an email away if you have questions or concerns. You will be provided with the knowledge, information, and training needed to succeed. Also, the mock exams will prepare you well for the CSMLS exam.”
Chadi’s Final Thoughts …
“I want to express my deepest gratitude to the Anderson team, both those I directly interacted with and those working behind the scenes. This is my opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart because without you, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this. From the moment I joined, I considered it a golden opportunity, and it truly was. Thank you to the entire Anderson team for giving me the opportunity to inspire others and assure them that they need not fear what lies ahead.
“I’d like to mention one more thing: the program’s convenience. You can complete your courses, exams, assignments, and practical work at your own convenience. You don’t have to relocate to Toronto to study; you can do it from the comfort of your home, office, or during your lunch break. There are deadlines, but you can manage your own schedule. This flexibility is incredibly convenient, especially for those in different provinces. Moving to Toronto can be expensive, and you won’t have to commute back and forth. The condensed two-week practicum aligns well with your daily life, making it more accessible. I haven’t found another bridging program that offers this level of convenience.”
We thank you Chadi for taking the time to share your valuable insights and we are deeply honoured you chose to journey with Anderson. We cannot wait to see the success and life you create for yourself in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
If you’re still exploring how to align your interests with a career choice, you can always take our “Medical Professional Career Discovery Quiz”.
But if you’ve been inspired by Chadi’s reflections and experience and are an internationally trained MLT, please refer to the requirements for our IEMLT program. Of if you’re looking for another career training opportunity, you can explore any of our 30+ programs. You can also receive direct support at any time by simply booking a virtual appointment with one of our admissions advisors. We’re here to help you navigate every step along the way to your first, or next, incredible career.