Honouring our lab colleagues, a vital part of the health care system

Our laboratory colleagues are an essential part of the health care system, from helping to make quick diagnoses during flu and other outbreaks so that patients can be tracked/monitored/isolated, to supporting screening and diagnosis of cancers, to determining if organs are a transplant match, to indicating what medications would be effective on a given patient, and to confirming the cause of death for many affected by the opioid crisis. Laboratory professionals truly are a part of everything we do.

Through a comprehensive range of pathology and laboratory services, from routine testing to highly specialized laboratory medicine, it’s our lab technologists, assistants and other lab professionals that help to deliver results that inform up to 70% of all medical decisions. Did you know there are more than 440 million lab tests performed on a yearly basis in Canada?

In recognition of our medical laboratory professionals during Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, we asked a few of our staff about their work across Lower Mainland Laboratories (LM Labs), a Lower Mainland service of PHSA supporting PHSA, Vancouver Coastal Health, Providence Health Care and Fraser Health.

“At the age of 13 I decided that was what I was going to be”

Petra Barnes, technologist of the Core Lab at Vancouver General Hospital, became interested in becoming a medical laboratory professional at the age of seven years old. “A lady came to take my blood, and I asked her what she did. She told me she was a lab technologist. At the age of 13 I decided that was what I was going to be, and in my high school classes, I geared towards sciences to be accepted to BCIT Med Lab program at 18. I have been a lab tech since I was 21, I have been privileged to work in a job that I have loved for 39 years. It is nice to know that I play a keen part of the medical team helping patients.”

“What we do in the lab as a whole has a direct and significant impact on patients”

As technical coordinator in Transfusion Medicine at St. Paul’s Hospital, Colleen Chan finds inspiration in her role from her impact on patient care. “Whether we’re filing lab results that help diagnose an illness or crossmatching/preparing STAT blood products for transfusion in a trauma case, what we do in the lab as a whole has a direct and significant impact on patients. If we can get our part done a few minutes faster, then we know that the patient can receive the care and treatment that they need that much faster too!”

“I enjoy the busy work environment in which I can work independently while still being part of a team”

A combination of independent work and collaboration is also required in the field, adds Margaret Luk, technical coordinator in Anatomic Pathology at Vancouver General Hospital. “I enjoy the busy work environment in which I can work independently while still being part of a team. Even though we don’t all have direct contact with patients, we are part of a team of health care professionals that play a vital role in a patient’s diagnosis, which helps determine their treatment and care. Many people are surprised by how many of us are working behind the scenes to achieve successful outcomes for our patients.”

Thank you and join the conversation

Thank you to all the medical lab professionals across the Lower Mainland and Central Coast for your contributions to health care in BC. We appreciate all that you do for our patients.

Join the conversation and share your appreciation for LM Labs on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #LabWeek. Make sure to tag @PHSAofBC.

Lower Mainland Pathology and Laboratory Medicine is a service of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) responsible for providing public laboratory services. Hospital-based laboratories in Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, Providence Health Care and PHSA provide both inpatient and outpatient laboratory services. Our specialty laboratories at BC Cancer Agency, BC Centre for Disease Control, and BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre provide a variety of reference and specialized testing for the Province.