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Parkland College to offer Medical Laboratory Assistant program

The Health Foundation will invest just over $200,000 for the equipment needed in the training, and the college will hire the instructor and run the class.
A new program is being made possible because of a unique partnership between the Health Foundation of East Central Saskatchewan and Parkland College. (File Photo)

YORKTON - Parkland College will be delivering a Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) Applied Certificate program in Yorkton starting in the fall of 2023. 

Students will be trained in a laboratory setting and will master skills such as collecting and processing medical specimens. 

“Medical Laboratory Assistants have been identified as a high-demand occupation with critical levels of job vacancies and the strain of staff shortages is even stronger in rural centres,” explained Kami DePape, Vice President of External Relations in a release. “By training students locally, our hope is that they find employment in our surrounding communities, alleviating some of the vacancies. As a Regional College, we are committed to providing training that will help strengthen our local economy and enhance community services.  

The program was made possible because of a unique partnership between the Health Foundation of East Central Saskatchewan and Parkland College. The Health Foundation has donated an astounding $200,000 to cover the medical equipment needed for a new training lab at Parkland College. Strong support from Saskatchewan Polytechnic was also required to deliver this new health program. 

“We’ve been working on this for a couple of years,” Ross Fisher Executive Director of the Health Foundation told Yorkton This Week, adding the program is “something a little different,” in terms of a Health Foundation initiative. “. . .We’re the only place in the province doing this.” 

Fisher said the program is focused on helping fill a very specific need. 

“We’re not meeting the needs of rural health care,” he said, adding there simply are not enough Medical Laboratory Assistants being graduated from existing programs in the province to meet needs. 

So the Health Foundation will invest just over $200,000 for the equipment needed in the training, and the college will hire the instructor and run the class. 

The program will also see students spend training time in the hospital labs in the regional, Yorkton, Melville, Esterhazy and Kamsack, explained Fisher. 

The initial class will have six, or seven spots, and priority will be given to students within the region, said Fisher, in hope once trained they will stay as there are currently spots open in hospital labs they will be training in. 

“There are staff issues in Kamsack, and we need people in the lab here (Yorkton), and in Melville,” said Fisher. 

To enhance area retention there may also be some financial incentives provided to stay local, added Fisher. 

Down the road Fisher said there is certainly potential for the program to grow, even to the point of a similar program elsewhere in the province since there are currently 74 vacancies for Medical Laboratory Assistants. 

Fisher added that other health-related training programs could be developed locally moving forward, geared toward filling specific staff requirements.