Sudbury

Sudbury college professor working to improve medical laboratory training for students

A small scale project could lead to big improvements for the Medical Laboratory Technology program at Cambrian College in Sudbury.
Sheri Johnson Purdon (right), works with Cambrian College student Aislinn Michie, to develop an inventory of digital images to help students identify and count cells in blood samples. (Supplied/Cambrian College)

A small scale project could lead to big improvements for the Medical Laboratory Technology program at Cambrian College in Sudbury.

Professor Sheri Johnson Purdon is digitizing up to 100 high-resolution photographs of blood samples.

The work will help aspiring medical lab technologists better identify the presence of cancerous cells and other diseases.

She says she hopes the result will help students detect cancer and other diseases before it's too late.

"There's a very limited number of resources out there for the identification of these cells," Johnson Purdon said.

"When I go on Google and I'm looking at images, it's the same four or five representations of that one cell."

Better placement results

Johnson Purdon is using a digital camera paid for by the Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Services grant to make the high-resolution photos. The project is also being assisted by student Aislinn Michie.

"Quickly and accurately identifying these cells requires training, experience and keen attention to detail," she said.

"The inventory of digital slides we're creating will help students gain experience with cell identification."

Johnson Purdon believes that students are likely to receive better placement opportunities as a result of the project.

"It's been noticed by the different clinical placements that the students aren't very comfortable with identifying the cells," she said.

"That takes a lot of time away from them when they're hosting these students, to have to go through the basics with them every time a student comes through their department."

The Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Science is expecting a nationwide shortage in the field, as approximately 50 per cent of medical lab technologists will reach retirement age in the next 10 years.

With files from Benjamin Aubé

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