It was in 1937 that four visionaries changed the future of the medical laboratory industry with the initiation of an association dedicated to recognizing and supporting medical laboratory professionals across Canada. The association was originally named the Canadian Society of Laboratory Technologists, (C.S.L.T), but now referred to as the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS). In 2012, CSMLS celebrates this milestone and the many contributions it has made to the medical laboratory profession.
One of the first founding group members, Ms. Helen Smith, was working at the Hamilton General Hospital (HGH) when she began talking about a professional association for laboratory workers. “I don’t think it is generally remembered that our first attempts to contact technicians (the usual term at the time) were in order to start a publication.” said Smith. “We found it much more difficult to reach and interest people than we expected, so we decided to form a society and go for a charter.”
Mr. Frank Elliott, senior HGH biochemist, and Dr. William Deadman, supervising pathologist, along with Mr. Denys Lock, supported Smith in her efforts. Frank, Helen and Denys set out to recruit nine additional supporters and applied for a Dominion Charter in 1936. The process was much more difficult and drawn out than they had expected, requiring changes to several by-laws and even the proposed name of the Society.
At the time, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) protested the use of the term “Medical Technologists”, in the Society name, feeling that it implied that the members were doctors. After unsuccessful negotiation, the charter applicants changed the title to “laboratory technologists”. Despite the setbacks, the original twelve were so successful in recruiting that by the time of incorporation in May 1937, sixty-five Society members had already joined across Canada.
As a result of their initiatives, Mr. Frank Elliot became the first president of C.S.L.T while Mr. Denys Lock and Ms. Helen Smith were the first treasurer and secretary, respectively.
Their efforts, determination and passion forged the path in gaining representation of the medical laboratory profession in Canada. Seventy-five years later, CSMLS remains strong in its mission of being the voice of medical laboratory science.
Reference: The Canadian Journal of Medical Laboratory Science (50th anniversary special edition), 1987.