Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I once said that the two most challenging disciplines in Medical Laboratory Sciences, for me, were the ones beginning with H. So it’s a good thing I’m getting these over with at the start—and Histology actually wasn’t that bad. The first week of Hematology has left me feeling a little wiped out, though.
Hematology is the study of blood, which is partly why there’s so much more of a workload in this particular lab. Not everyone gets biopsies or Pap smears done, but everyone has blood tests. As a result, techs work around the clock. I’ve been on the seven-to-three shift, but that’s fine for a morning person like me.
For the first week I helped run the analyzer. That does the work of testing the specimens; what the technologists do is to interpret the results. Which ones are significant? Are they consistent with the patient’s previous results? What follow-up work needs to be done? Can a result be released if the analyzer has flagged it? When do we need to call in critical values?
And all these decisions need to be made in seconds. At first I didn’t know how the technologists managed to do that so fast—especially given that the screens are full of information—but towards the end of the week I was getting a little better at it. I also set up further tests with the blood and did all right. Though there seems to be a real scarcity of chairs in the heme lab, so I usually trudged home with aching feet.
On the other hand, I found out that the technologists like to get normal samples to use for comparison purposes, and will give student a meal voucher in exchange for some. And as you guys know, I adore freebies. So I let them take my blood and they let me run it on the analyzer, which was very cool. The technologists also proclaimed me “disgustingly healthy” after seeing the printout, so they might be tapping me like a maple tree in the future.
Next week I’ll be in Coagulation, monitoring all the ways things can go wrong with the intricate systems of blood clotting. That’s OK, but I also found out that the certifying exam I have to take in February will cost $499. See why I love freebies?