About the CMLTA
The College of Medical Laboratory Technologists of Alberta (CMLTA) is the regulatory body for Medical Laboratory Technologists (MLTs) employed in Alberta. The CMLTA protects and serves the public, patients, and our Regulated Members by setting entrance to practice requirements, creating and enforcing a Continuing Competence Program, and instituting a formal process for the adjudication of complaints of unprofessional conduct. Professional regulation is one measure to assure the public MLTs provide safe, competent, and ethical healthcare services. For an overview of the CMLTA's legislated programs and services, please view the video below.
Who We Regulate
MLTs perform laboratory analyses and provide clinicians with accurate and reliable test results upon which 85% of decisions regarding diagnosis and/or treatment are based. MLTs are employed in a variety of laboratory settings, such as hospital laboratories, public and private clinical institutions, research facilities, and as educators teaching the profession of medical laboratory technology to future practitioners. MLTs are formally trained in one or more of the following specialties:
Biochemistry (Clinical Chemistry) – Biochemistry is the study of the chemical and physiochemical processes of living organisms. MLTs perform a wide variety of biochemical analyses, including those to determine cholesterol and thyroid levels, enzyme levels for heart disease, and glucose levels for the diagnosis and management of diabetes. A typical biochemistry department of a medical laboratory can perform and interpret more than two hundred different chemical analyses. A typical biochemistry department of a medical laboratory can perform and interpret more than two hundred different chemical analyses.
Cytogenetics – Cytogenetics is the study of chromosomes and the diseases associated with an abnormal number or structure of chromosomes. MLTs in this discipline analyze prenatal samples, cancer cells, blood, and tissues for genetic diseases. Chromosomes are detected using a light microscope. MLTs who work in cytogenetics treat cells with chemicals to increase the number of dividing cells. The cell is then ruptured to release the chromosomes, which are then fixed, stained and examined, first using a light microscope and then using computerized digital images. MLTs in this discipline analyze prenatal samples, cancer cells, blood and tissues for genetic diseases.
Molecular Genetics – MLTs who work in molecular genetics focus on examining DNA and RNA and looking for changes in the genes. Abnormal or changed genes are, in many cases, associated with specific conditions or diseases such as breast cancer and hemophilia. Molecular techniques can identify infectious agents (like viruses and bacteria that are difficult or slow to grow in tissue cultures), and the stages of cancer and various genetic diseases.
Diagnostic Cytology – Diagnostic Cytology is the study of the origin, formation, structure, function and classification of cells. The identification of normal and cancerous cells also falls within this discipline. MLTs who work in this field are responsible for specimen preparation and staining, as well as microscopic evaluation and interpretation of patient samples. Cytology results are used in diagnosis, patient management, and treatment follow-up.
Hematology – Hematology deals with blood, blood-forming tissues, and the related cellular components. Modern-day analysis is performed primarily by automated instrumentation, with MLTs conducting the interpretation. Analysis can identify cells associated with a wide variety of blood disorders such as leukemia and anemia. Hematology also includes investigating bleeding or coagulation disorders, such as hemophilia, and monitoring patients on anticoagulant therapies.
Histology – Histology deals with the microscopic identification of cells and tissues. This science requires an understanding of the structure and composition of cells and their organization into various organs. MLTs working in histology are responsible for preparing and staining tissues for diagnostic microscopic examination. MLTs practicing histology also work with tissue biopsies and prepare frozen sections for immediate examination for patients in operating rooms.
Microbiology – Microbiology is the study of the bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites that invade the body. The microbiology lab is often divided into the following subspecialties:
Bacteriology – The identification of the bacteria that cause disease in the human body. MLTs in this discipline also test the effectiveness of various antibiotics. The MLT specializing in bacteriology may also deal with public health (e.g. the potability of water or the quality of milk) or the fight against disease (e.g. the diagnosis of hospital-acquired infections or the diagnosis of communicable diseases).
Mycology – The study of fungi and fungoid diseases. Ringworm and thrush are two of the more common fungoid diseases identified by MLTs working in this field.
Parasitology – The specialty that examines and identifies parasites found on or in the human body. This includes identifying some of the most common parasites such as pinworm, roundworm, and tapeworm.
Virology – The science devoted to the study of viruses and viral diseases. The prevalence of AIDS and HIV has developed a greater public awareness of the devastating impact viruses can have on everyday life. MLTs working in this field focus on the identification and management of viral diseases.
Transfusion Science – MLTs working in transfusion science study antigens and antibodies associated with blood transfusions and certain complications of pregnancy. Roles range from determining the appropriate blood and blood products to be used in surgery for accident victims or surgery patients, to analyzing specialized blood products, such as plasma for hemophiliacs or platelets for patients with leukemia. MLTs practicing in this area must have understanding of immunology, serology, and genetics. In larger centers, MLTs practicing transfusion science may perform tests associated with tissue and organ transplant.