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Happy National Med Lab Week – A Q&A with Georgette Lawrence, Technician

April 24, 2014

National Medical Laboratory Week continues and here in LMP, we are taking some time to get to know a variety of the laboratory professionals that work in our laboratory at UHN.

We’ve heard from Jeannette Campbell, and Shawn Brennan already, now we get to hear the perspective of Georgette Lawrence, a technician in our pathology laboratory.

DSC03743Read about Georgette’s role in our laboratory and how she works hard to support patient care at UHN:

What is your position?

I am a Medical Laboratory Technician.

What do you do here?

The position as a Medical Laboratory Technician here at UHN consist of many duties…I rotate to three different work sites two of which are at TGH and the other at the Princess Margaret. My duties consist of customer service, accessioning fresh and formalin fixed specimen, troubleshooting any existing problems, preparing cassettes for the PA’s for grossing, discarding of specimen, lab maintenance, setup of stainers, maintenance of the tissue processors and the filing of blocks and slides as needed just to name a few.

Why did you get into Lab medicine?

My first encounter with a Medical Laboratory Technician was during a visit to my family doctors office.  This particular visit required me to do some blood work, but rather than being petrified of having a needle penetrate my skin –  a wave of excitement and curiosity came over me as I wanted to know how I could learn to do phlebotomy and this became the stepping stone to becoming a Medical Laboratory Technician.

How did you get started at UHN?

I had been working part-time in another facility when I saw the vacancy for a fulltime technician posted on the UHN website. I knew it was a long shot, but I went for it anyway, I called the lab here at UHN to inquire as to who the supervisor was, and learned it was Diana Booth. I contacted her and I was able to discuss my interest in the position and wondered if it was still vacant. Diana told me to submit my resume, shortly after I was called in for an interview and was able to meet with Diana and a senior technologist for an interview, after my first interview I was again invited to meet with the lab manager, Laurie Mason.  I can’t express how grateful I am in being given this opportunity. I have been employed here at UHN for 15 months now.

What is your favorite part of the job?

I can honestly say that my favorite part of my job is being part of a team that puts patient care first.  Never overlooking any problems, but being thorough in following through to maintain accuracy and efficiency for a quality standard that never waivers.

What is the most challenging part of your job? 

I would have to say one challenge that I have with this position has to do with the manner in which we sometimes receive some of the specimens.., however management is currently working in collaboration with the various departments to resolve the issues.

What value would you say you add to patient care?

I always reflect on how if the roles were changed and I was the patient. I think that I would hope that they would be providing the best possible care in handling of my specimen that would help to provide the most accurate results possible, and that is what I commit to when dealing with specimens. I understand the seriousness of each case and that the balance of someone’s life depends on the manner in which you handle and prioritize your workflow.

National Med Lab Week is all about promoting the work of laboratory professionals – what do you wish people knew about the work that goes on inside the lab? 

I would like the general public to know just how essential the work is that we provide in the lab, the information that is obtained from the various results that we submit to their family physician is considered to be a primary tool in aiding to determine the course of treatment needed.

Technology has become so advanced that certain test results can be ready for the same day, and the work done by the pathologist is so vital that while the patient is on the operating table, the pathologist is able to review slides prepared from fresh tissue and then informs the surgeons of their findings which in turn helps the surgeon to decide on their next medical decision.  Everything is interconnected and work together for the greater good.

Thanks to our Administrative Professionals

April 23, 2014

DSC03738We have taken some time this week, in the Laboratory Medicine Program, to say thanks to our wonderful team of administrative professionals.

April 23 is celebrated in many places around the world as “Administrative Professionals Day” - to recognize the work of secretaries, executive and administrative assistants, receptionists, and other administrative  professionals.

DSC03741We have a variety of different laboratory team members who fit this bill – some support our pathologists, biochemists and blood transfusion specialists. Others help out with our specimen collection team. Other administrative professionals works with our admin team to keep the business humming along.

DSC03739No matter what the day-to-day job of our administrative professionals, each of them play an important role in our laboratory and making sure we deliver exceptional patient care every day.

As Tom Clancy, our Laboratory Director, said “Administrative Professionals Day is a great opportunity to take some time and say thanks, but we are thankful every day, all year round, for the important work that they do.”

Thanks team!

(Oh, and for a bit of fun on Administrative Professionals Day, check out this slideshow of some of our Favorite Movie and TV Assistants!”)


Happy National Med Lab Week – A Q&A with Shawn Brennan, MLT

April 23, 2014

Yesterday we heard from Jeannette Campbell, today take some time to read the perspective of Shawn Brennan, MLT,  from our cancer cytogenetics laboratory.

LMP always takes part in National Medical Laboratory Week – the annual celebration of our medical laboratory professionals who play a critical role in every aspect of health care.

From Tuesday through Friday this week we’ll be highlighting some of the different types of laboratory professionals that make up the Laboratory Medicine Program team.

DSC03730Read about Shawn’s role in our laboratory and how he supports patient care at UHN:

What is your position? I am the technologist in charge of the Cancer Cytogenetics Laboratory

What do you do here? As well as technical duties I oversee day-to-day operations of the cytogenetics lab, maintain equipment and computer systems, run reports for quality assurance, ministry of health, research etc., prepare the lab for OLA and CAP lab inspections and maintain the Paradigm technical manual.

Why did you get into Lab medicine? I wanted to pursue a career with practical application of my education in genetics.

How did you get started at UHN? I was hired as a trainee-technologist in Dr. Allen Gardner’s clinical cytogenetics laboratory in 1982. I moved to Dr. Ian Dube’s new cancer cytogenetics laboratory in 1986.

How long have you worked here? 32 years

What is your favorite part of the job? I still enjoy the technical aspects of my job, particularly karyotyping.

What is the most challenging part of your job? The most challenging part of my job is time management.

What value would you say you add to patient care? Cytogenetics and FISH are important prognostic tests. The information we provide can determine the responsiveness of some cancers to different treatments and hence allow clinicians to tailor their treatment of individual patients. Certain cytogenetic abnormalities correlate to high risk diseases and those patients can be treated aggressively to increase their rates of survival while other cytogenetic abnormalities correlate to lower risk and those patients can be treated less aggressively which reduces therapy related morbidity. Genetic changes can also be used to determine the suitability of patients to newer targeted therapies such as Her2/neu amplification indicating Herceptin therapy for breast cancer or Gleevec therapy for patients with Ph1 positive leukemias.

National Med Lab Week is all about promoting the work of laboratory professionals – what do you wish people knew about the work that goes on inside the lab? I wish people knew about how genuinely concerned lab staff are for their well being. Even though many of us do not meet the patients we produce lab results for, we are highly invested in rapidly producing the highest quality of laboratory test results in the hope that our participation as members of their health care team leads to their successful treatment and recovery.

One of the first patients I worked on in cancer cytogenetics was a teenager diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. We followed her along as she was successfully treated into remission, monitored here while she remained disease free, grew into adulthood, married and had a family of her own. It makes me proud to know that laboratory staff, through their caring work, participated in such a wonderful outcome.

Happy National Med Lab Week – A Q&A with Jeanette Campbell, MLT

April 22, 2014

National Med Lab Week is  April 22 – April 25, LMP always takes part in National Medical Laboratory Week – the annual celebration of our medical laboratory professionals who play a critical role in every aspect of health care.

From Tuesday through Friday this week we’ll be profiling a few of the different types of laboratory professionals that make up the Laboratory Medicine Program team. Today is Jeanette Campbell from our specimen management area in our core lab.

Read about Jeanette’s role in the laboratory and the value she brings to patient care at UHN:

DSC03713What is your position?  I’m a senior lab technician

What do you do here? I perform duties relating to specimen management including receiving, sorting and processing samples for in-house and referred out testing, problem solving regarding samples, assisting staff in lab and throughout UHN, and I’m also a liaison between external clients and our Core Lab in relations to Specimen Management.

Why did you get into Lab medicine?  Working with sick people has always been my passion and once I was introduced to lab medicine, I instantly knew that’s where I wanted to be.

How did you get started at UHN?  Once I gained experience from various private labs, I joined UHN (then known as Toronto General Hospital). I worked at the Diagnostic Test Center performing ECG/ venipuncture, then transferred into the STAT Lab at Doctor’s Hospital which was then operated by The Toronto Hospital. From there I came to Specimen Management where I’ve been ever since.

How long have you worked here? I’ve been working here for the last 25 years.

What is your favorite part of the job?  Problem resolution

What is the most challenging part of your job? With colleagues and clients coming to me with their individual request, remaining organized can sometimes be a challenge.

What value would you say you add to patient care? With enthusiasm I take extra steps to ensure that sample integrity is maintained to provide the best possible test result for each patient.

National Med Lab Week is all about promoting the work of laboratory professionals – what do you wish people knew about the work that goes on inside the lab?  I would like them to know that it’s not always as simple as collecting a sample and providing a result.  There are collaborative effort among staff to ensure the best standards are maintain from the point of greeting the patient, the order in which samples are drawn and processed  to even the inventory and supply control of reagents and solutions in order to test samples all  before we get to the end stage of reporting the test result.

National Med Lab Week – Schedule Details!

April 16, 2014

Next week is National Medical Laboratory Week!

During the week of April 22 – April 25, LMP will be taking part in National Medical Laboratory Week – the annual celebration of our medical laboratory professionals who play a critical role in every aspect of health care.


DSCF7233Poster Contest!

As a laboratory professional, how do you help patients every day?

Create a short phrase that describes what you do in the lab – and it could be turned into a poster!

Submissions may be sent to and staff are encouraged to submit as many phrases as possible. The top three that best describe “life in the Lab” will be turned into posters – and you’ll win a prize.


NMLW Schedule of Activities!


 Tuesday April 22    

Time: 12 noon – 1 pm

Location: TGH Astellas Conference Room, 11th floor, Munk Building


Vendor Presentation – “What’s New at Stago” Gordon Odrowski, Stago

Educational Session – “Laboratory Medicine – Winds of Change”

Speaker: Tom Clancy

Educational Session: Student Testimonials

Speakers: Adedoyin Banjoko & Shadi Huladar, UOIT

Lunch Provided by: Stago


Weds April 23

Time: 12 noon – 1pm

Location: TGH Pathology Conference Room, 11th floor, Eaton Building


Vendor Presentation – “Near Patient CD4 Testing” Lori Apoll, BD Sciences

Vendor Presentation – “Patient Safety During Blood Collection” Suzanne King, BD Sciences

Educational Session – “Transplant – A Case Study”

Speaker: Dr. Kathryn Tinckam

Lunch Provided by: BD Sciences, Dessert by Tiera’s Chocolate Bar


Thursday April 24

Time: 11:45 – 12:45 pm

Location: TGH Astellas Conference Room, 11th floor, Munk Building     026


Vendor Presentation – “OSOM Rapid Test” Jay Palmar, Fisher Scientific

Educational Session – “Learning About, From and With Each Other in Laboratory Medicine”

Speaker: Debbie Rolfe & Tracy Paulenko

Lunch Provided By: Fisher Scientific & Life Technologies, Dessert by Analiza Aquino


Friday April 25

Time: 12 noon – 1 pm

Location: TGH Pathology Conference Room, 11th floor, Eaton Building


Vendor Session – “NGAL – A Novel Biomarker for Acute Liver Injury” Dean Nixon, Alere

Educational Session – “Facing Change”

Speaker: Peter Woo

Educational Session: Ontario Society of Medical Technologists, Karim Bhaloo

Lunch and Cake Provided By: Alere, Dessert by LMP





Pathologists’ Assistants help out in the Sault

April 11, 2014

Recently, two Pathologists’ Assistants from the Laboratory Medicine Program, Samy Marzouk and Angela Anthony, had the opportunity to go up to the Sault Area Hospital, one of LMPs partners, and help out in their surgical pathology department.

The editorial team of The Pathology Report sat down with Samy and asked him some questions about why he went, what it was like working with the SAH team and what he says to those looking for other work and educational opportunities.

Sault Ste.Marie-Samy,DanWhen did you work at the Sault Area Hospital?

I worked in the surgical pathology department at SAH for almost the whole month of Feb and again in March as a PA.

Why are you there?

Due to a leave of one of their staff members, they have had a shortage of PAs in their laboratory. I was able to cover the leave. Angela Anthony, another one of the LMP’s PAs has also been able to help out and covered a few weeks.  I worked as a PA in their surgical pathology area, just like I do here. They were quite backlogged, so I just worked hard and did as much as possible.

Why did you volunteer for this opportunity?

I really enjoy taking on new challenges and trying something new, so I saw this as the perfect opportunity. Plus, I really wanted to gain additional experience working in a different laboratory setting and meeting new colleagues.

Also, as an immigrant to Canada, I really enjoy being able to see different places in Canada and knew that I couldn’t let this opportunity go.

What is the surgical pathology area like at SAH?

They are a relatively new hospital, around 2 years old, so it felt like I was using brand new equipment in a new space. They are also quite busy for a relatively small population, so they see quite a few specimens. I can appreciate how it wouldn’t take long for them to get backed up.

Where did you stay?

I stayed at local hotel within Sault Ste Marie, close to the hospital. While I was there, I was able to attend Bon Soo, an annual winter carnival in Sault Ste. Marie. It was great to see this event as there were lots of tents, exhibits and ice sculptures.

Who did you work with?

photoI was able to work with some terrific people at SAH. I mainly worked with Dan, the senior PA and Drs Mike D’Agostino and Mozorowski. I also worked closely with Scott Bowman, the laboratory manager and Betty Currie, the lab technical supervisor, who was incredibly helpful in getting me settled. She even recommended an all you can eat sushi place.

The entire team has been very friendly and welcoming. I was initially hesitant because it’s always a little stressful going to work in a new place, but they all put me at ease and were very warm and gracious. I could also tell they are very passionate about their work, hardworking and committed to their patients.

Anything else?

Just that I’m excited to head up to SAH again. I really encourage everyone to take these kinds of opportunities, try new things and go to a new place. You get to meet new people and gain some really valuable experience.


Dr. Sylvia Asa Inducted as Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists.

April 4, 2014

IMG_7129Recently, Dr. Sylvia Asa, Medical Director, Laboratory Medicine was inducted as an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists.

The Royal College of Pathologists (RCP) is an organization whose mission is to promote excellence in the study, research and practice of pathology. They are also responsible for maintaining the highest standards through training, assessments, examinations and professional development, to the benefit of the public and the healthcare industry.

Most people become members of a College by examination, but on occasion, a fellowship is an honor that is bestowed on a prominent person to recognize their contribution to the field.

Congratulations to Dr. Asa for the tremendous honour as she joins a list of other champions in the world of pathology, including Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior (2004), The Baroness Trumpington of Sandwich (1991), Lord Crisp KCB (2009) and Dame Carol Black CBE (2004).


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