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An Interview | Gabrielle Samson

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Explore the realm of Medical Laboratory Assistant in our exclusive interview with CBBC Career College graduate, Gabrielle Samson, where she talks about what made her decide to choose this career path, what she learned in school, and more!

Hi Gabby! Thank you for agreeing to chat with us. Can you start by telling us what made you decide to enroll in the Medical Laboratory Assistant program?

Gabby Samson:
I wanted to get into healthcare, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to go exactly into and I didn’t want to go to school for a long period of time. So I found out this course was only six months, in and out, with only four months of actually being in school and then a 6-week practicum rotation. It was very fast and then you’re ready for full-time employment. I found that very interesting and I wanted to do that.

 

And why did you choose to go to CBBC Career College?

Gabby Samson:
It was one of the only places around here that you could learn in person. I did have to move to Halifax for the four months, but then I was able to come back home to do placement if I wanted to. Anywhere else you were looking at moving to either New Brunswick or having to do it online and I didn’t really want to do that, so CBBC was a great option with being able to learn in person.

Great! Can you talk about what the learning environment was like at CBBC?

Gabby Samson:
They had a room set up that’s a little lab base, so you have tables and they had microscopes and the collection chairs that we use at the hospitals for practicing. For the lab portion, it was one big room divided into two different areas, one would be the collection area and then the other was where we would learn how to do gram staining like if you were to be in a real lab.

 

What was the practicum placement like?

Gabby Samson:
I went to the IWK to do my placement and not even two weeks in, they told me if I wanted a job I would have one right after. I work at the Cape Breton Regional now, and our casuals are offered full-time employment if that’s what they want. You can go anywhere within the province and you know the demand’s  not going anywhere and you know that you’ll always job opportunities.

What was the support at CBBC like?

Gabby Samson:
We had access to people that helped us with our resumes. They would be there to help us with our resumes for when we wanted to apply for jobs. Both my teachers were amazing, if I was to text them late at night asking a question about my tests the next day, they would respond within minutes. They were always there for us at any time and were very helpful. With me, I was in school during COVID, so our whole class was divvied up. We would do labs half the morning, one teacher would come in the morning to do lab, and then in the afternoon we would do classroom stuff. I did like that we didn’t have all 30 of us together in one classroom, so we could ask more questions.

 

What kind of person is best suited for this program and career?

Gabby Samson:
I know some people took the program thinking they were going to be in the lab 24/7, and you can do that, there are spots where if you go into histology or cytology, microbiology, those are strictly lab-based. So if you are more on the quiet side and a little bit of an introvert, you do have that option. But if you are super outgoing and love patient care and love to be there for the patients, you can stay in collections and work with patients all day long. At my current job, we do half lab, half blood collection so you do get that little break sometimes just kind of just be with your coworkers.

What sort of things did you learn in the MLA program?

Gabby Samson:
Our very first course was medical terminology and we just had a booklet of terms that we had to learn. It was pretty interesting and I found that very helpful for when you’re talking to the doctors and the nurses and they’re asking you questions about different blood work. Terminology came into a big role.

Then we learned microbiology, chemistry. I found those a little bit more difficult, but they were very interesting. I loved micro learning about the different organisms. The lab safety part of the course came in very handy when you’re on the job and you’re trying to put it all into perspective. It’s a lot harder to do in the school, but when you get on your placement, I find it all comes together and you now know that, “This is what this was for and this is why we did this.” It all kind of comes together while you’re on placement.

We did histo and cyto towards the end of the course and that was pretty interesting. I never really got the opportunity to work in those lab settings, but I did have some friends that worked in there and they love it. They love the little samples that come through and then you have to do all the gram staining and stuff like that.

 

Do you have any advice for someone considering the program?

Gabby Samson:
It is very fast-paced, but that’s also great for when you want to just be in it and then out of school right away. It’s amazing for people that just need that job and know that you have options. Advice would be to find a study buddy. There was two girls that I was in school with and we would gather once a week and it’s great when you can’t understand something and then someone else tries to explain it. Even on lunch hours, a group of us would sit at lunch and we would talk about medical term, for example, and that helped me remember these little things.

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I think the thing that has stood out to me the most in the program is how much the teachers care about your success and how they work hard to create a positive environment to learn in. It’s really amazing! They really encourage all the students to celebrate each other’s successes and help each other out. I really struggled with the decision of which school to attend, and I know that I made the right choice.
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