Medical laboratory technology education going digital at Cambrian College

Posted on Friday December 15, 2017

A student and professor compare images in a textbook with what is viewed through a microscope and digital camera image.
Cambrian College student Aislinn Michie and professor Sheri Johnson Purdon are developing an inventory of digital images to help students identify and count cells in blood samples without using a microscope. (Pictured left to right.)

A single millilitre of human blood can contain 5 billion cells that can reveal signs of health or illness. “Quickly and accurately identifying these cells requires training, experience, and keen attention to detail,” says Sheri Johnson Purdon, a Medical Laboratory Technology professor at Cambrian College. Thanks to a Simulation and Clinical Placement grant from the Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS), Johnson Purdon and her student assistant, Aislinn Michie, are digitizing up to 100 slides and uploading them so that students can study, identify, and be tested on their skills online, without using a microscope.

A sample image showing microscopic cells in a blood sample.
A sample image captured by Michie, showing microscopic cells in a blood sample.


Using a digital camera paid for by the CSMLS grant, Michie is photographing each physical slide in the college’s inventory to create a digital slide bank. “The inventory of digital slides we’re creating will help students gain experience with cell identification and counting, and it will help employers test students’ competencies before and after clinical placements,” Johnson Purdon explains. “We’ll also identify the attributes and characteristics found in each digital image so it’s easier to quickly and accurately assess the students’ work.”

Millions of diagnostic tests are conducted in Ontario every year for medical diagnoses, treatment, research, and even legal or forensic purposes. According to the CSMLS, innovative teaching and assessment tools like the digital slide bank Johnson Purdon’s creating will be required to help train enough medical laboratory technologists to fill a growing number of jobs in the field.

Cambrian College Medical Laboratory Technology student Aislinn Michie using a camera to capture images of blood sample slides.
Student Aislinn Michie captures microscopic details on blood sample slides using a digital camera.

The Society is anticipating a nation-wide shortage of licensed medical laboratory technologists because 50 percent will be of retirement age in the next ten years. Canada’s population is also aging and will experience complex health conditions, leading to more testing and research.

Cambrian College offers the only three-year Medical Laboratory Technology advanced diploma program in Ontario that is certified by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). Through the program, students prepare for careers as medical laboratory technologists and gain knowledge and hands-on experience with clinical hematology, chemistry, microbiology, and histotechnology, as well as transfusion science medicine. In 2017, graduates of the program earned a 100 percent success rate on their professional exams, which is the final step that allows them to be licensed to practice by the CSMLS. In 2017, the program earned a 6-year accreditation from the CMA, which is the highest level offered by the accrediting body.


Media contact:
Lynn Bulloch
Communications Officer
Cambrian College
705-566-8101, ext. 6375

Cambrian College remembering the Montréal Massacre 28 years later

Posted on Monday December 4, 2017

SUDBURY – The Cambrian College Women’s Resource Centre will be hosting its annual Violence Against Women Vigil on Tuesday, December 5 in Cambrian’s Student Life Centre. The event, which will be held from 9 a.m. …

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