WHEREAS all disciplines of healthcare in Alberta are experiencing shortages of qualified professionals and rural areas are experiencing even greater shortages than urban sites; and
WHEREAS rural healthcare facilities require a wider, multi-discipline skill set known as Combined Laboratory and X-Ray Technologist (CLXT) than those that are required in conventional urban settings; and
WHEREAS CLXT skill sets are mandatory for rural healthcare locations, and inadequate numbers of students are being trained at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) to meet the need in rural Alberta; and
WHEREAS NAIT is the only institution offering this training in Alberta, with a capacity of forty students per year and has indicated that they have the capacity within their infrastructure to increase by an additional twenty students if they have the clinical sites to support student training and/or a viable option of simulation training that will allow for the increase in students; and
WHEREAS NAIT has also advised that they are committed to exploring ways to increase their CLXT intake; and
WHEREAS the Alberta 2030 vision is focused on the post-secondary system and being highly responsive to labour market needs;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta request the Government of Alberta to immediately expand the number of seats available to train Combined Laboratory and X-Ray Technologist (CLXT) for rural Alberta by increasing the number of seats for CLXT training at NAIT by twenty seats and explore means by which an additional twenty seat capacity can be created at NAIT or another Alberta Institution.
The Alberta landscape is dotted with many small rural hospitals. Although small, they are mighty, and provide an essential service to all Albertans. Often remote, these facilities offer a buffer between injury and sickness and the chronically overcrowded big city emergency rooms. Many rural hospitals offer minor surgeries, obstetrics, pre and post operative care, palliative, and long-term care, all helping to take the pressure off the city hospitals. While allowing this also allows local citizens to receive quality health care close to home and family.
One discipline of particular serious concern is the combined Lab and X-ray Laboratory and X-Ray Technologist (CLXT). This part of our hospital’s team is vital in assisting with efficient diagnosis and treatment; and is essential to keeping a rural emergency room open. These combined skills are specific and mandatory to rural hospitals, and staff shortages in this discipline are apparent across the province. Rural hospitals are often limited to the number of staff they can hire due to budgetary constraints and therefore in many cases cannot afford to hire both a position for lab and for x-ray as separate personnel. The combined CLXT provides a cost-effective way to fill multiple positions with a single staff member.
The Government of Alberta Health Services website includes the following statement:
“Combined laboratory and x-ray technologists play a critically important role in the diagnosis, disease prevention and public health surveillance. They are responsible for collecting, preparing and analyzing patient samples, providing general patient care and taking blood. They conduct medical laboratory tests and administer electrocardiograms. They are also responsible for general radiography exams (X-ray). Combined laboratory and x-ray technologists are responsible to perform site specific manual and automated approved laboratory procedures, diagnostic imaging exams and related duties, following established standards and practices defined by the ACCLXT (Alberta College of Combined Laboratory and X-ray Technicians), CPSA (College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta) and HPA (Health Professions Act).”
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is the only institution providing this specialized program offering forty (40) seats annually. Increasing those seat numbers, from forty to eighty would significantly address the current demand in rural Alberta. NAIT currently has twenty new seats and thereafter increasing NAIT’s capacity and/or adding another institution with capability to offer this training may be enough to meet current demand. Currently NAIT receives 500 applications for the program, interviewing 200 people for each intake of the 40 seats. This demonstrates that the demand for the current program is very high and filling additional seats would not be an issue.
Access to health facilities and trained health care professionals in our rural areas is essential to the sustainability and economic growth of our province as a whole. Skill specific training, in adequate numbers, is necessary to foster growth and sustainability in rural Alberta. The request for the Government of Alberta to fund additional post-secondary seats for CLXT training aligns well with the already developed Alberta 2030 vision:
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.