“Investment in knowledge pays the best dividends.”
That quote by Benjamin Franklin is especially true today in our fast-changing world. For example, ongoing training is crucial to ensure laboratory staff at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre can learn the latest techniques. Thanks to the Dr. Douglas Rathbone Scholarship Fund, lab staff can apply for $1,000 in funding to help them upgrade their knowledge and skills – and ultimately improve patient care. The scholarships are provided thanks to an endowment that was created in Dr. Rathbone’s memory.
This year’s four recipients of the award are Chelsea Alexander, Alyssa Sabatini, Billie Hannah, and Stacy Tetlock. All work in different departments within Laboratory Services at the Health Sciences Centre. All have different roles.
Chelsea Alexander wants to take medical and business classes through a college program to build on her knowledge. Currently, she works in administration and sees ongoing education as a way to move up in her career to take on new roles and responsibilities.
“I’m most interested in the lab part of the medical field,” Alexander said. “You can always make a difference, even when you are behind the scenes rather than involved directly with patient care.”
Alyssa Sabatini, a medical laboratory technologist in Biochemistry, is thinking about a similar path. She plans to take courses from the Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) in leadership and chemistry.
“My long-term goal is to become the chemistry co-ordinator,” Sabatini said. “I followed in my mother’s footsteps and admired her dedication and passion for making a difference in patients’ lives.”
For Billie Hannah, who works in the Haematology & Transfusion Medicine department, the Rathbone Scholarship will help her learn more about transfusion and quality systems in the lab.
“I was always interested in being a part of the healthcare team,” Hannah said. Her long-term goal is also to move up to roles with more responsibility – and learning more about lab services in general is key to that. “I would like to continue to improve my skills and knowledge base in order to become more confident in areas I am less familiar with.”
Stacy Tetlock came into the field later in life. She graduated from a medical lab assistant program as an adult student. Tetlock currently works as a Medical Laboratory Assistant in the Pathology department at the Health Sciences Centre and also as a Lab Tech at Confederation College. She too hopes to develop her skills with this scholarship opportunity.
“I love my job,” Tetlock said. “I’ve always been passionate about patient care, and I take my career very seriously.”
Georgia Carr, the Manager of the Clinical Laboratory, emphasized how important the Dr. Douglas Rathbone Scholarships are to improving lab skills of the approximately 170 medical laboratory professionals working in laboratory services at the Health Sciences Centre. “Patient care is at the heart of everything we do,” she said. “Just recently, we added virology to our laboratory license and scope of testing, through rigorous approvals from the Ministry of Health, so that we would be able to provide timely COVID-19 results to better service the physicians and patients in our region. We encourage and support staff with regards to continuing education and advancement in order to keep the bar raised high for patient safety/care.”
Carr noted that the majority of the lab leadership team is age of retirement, including her, which is of concern due to the shortage of lab professionals. To help circumvent the critical staffing shortage the Lab is facing, Carr has been teaching a 5-month long lab mentorship program for Lab Administration Certification to 30 lab professionals during 2-hour weekly sessions. About the scholarship recipients she said, “I’m thrilled these four individuals are stepping up to be able to carry the torch when the time comes.”