Monday, March 16, 2015

Medical Technologist? Whats That?

Medical Technologist? Whats That?

On numerous occasions where I am in a social settings, be it a friends catch up, an old classmates gathering or maybe even a wedding dinner, I will face questions regarding my career. So the most obvious answer will be an honest answer (ofcourse right?); Medical Technologist. This will usually end up with blank stares or raised curious eyebrows. Medical Technologist is a job or career which is so under-mentioned, under-informed, under-publicised, under-recognised and the list goes on. I am not sure whether my fellow colleagues or people I know that are working in the same field, face the same challenge as I do. I struggle to make a positive impression whenever I have to explain about my career.
Due to this reason, I have decided to make a “worded” description about what my career is all about. This is to allow me to have a clearer understanding on how to make an effective description of my job scope without the scientific “expletives”. To some readers (I hope there is...) of this post it maybe an informative post to describe my position.
Basically, I am a Medical Technologist working in the Haematology departmentin a Clinical Research Organisation which deals with clinical trials of new drugs that are yet to be approved for medical usage. I will now give 3 succinct points to summarise what I do and what am I.
Point 1
As the name Haematology implies, which is the study of blood cells, I deal with mainly human blood samples. These blood samples are usually delivered from hospitals where patients are housed in or come for their regular visits for treatment. To put in layman terms, these patients are like “experimental-mice” where pharmaceutical companies need to test the effectiveness and safetyness of their “new drug”.
From the haematological point of view, my job is to ensure that the drug is not adversely affecting the “health-status” of the blood. There are numerous haematological parameters that must be tested and my job is to review this information with scientific knowledge to provide in-depth descriptions. Subsequently, this important haematological information is relayed to the doctors for them to make medical decisions.
Image 1: the blood can be centrifuged (spun at high speed) to separate into different "layers" which can be classified into different cells or components. The quantity, characteristics and size of these cells can tell what a patient is suffering and the health status of an individual.
Point 2
Being in a Clinical Research Organisation, means that there is a fair share of research being done other than the basic clinical testing that can also be found in hospital-based laboratories. I perform sophisticated skills and techniques to isolate specific cell types for research purposes. This is a highly complex department where White Blood Cells are being isolated.
A basic knowledge for all readers; Red Blood Cells do not contain DNA or any genetic materials; hence it has little to no research value. White Blood Cells have a “compartment” called nucleus to contain genetic material that can provide vital information about diseases and therefore have crucial research value.
Point 3
I am not a doctor, neither am I able to give prescription to patients. I am basically a scientist performing sophisticated scientific technical skills to produce medical information to influence the doctors’ clinical decisions.
Imagine a triangular 3 characters relationship; the patient, the doctor and the Medical Technologist – me. An unwell patient is admitted into hospital due to a severe disease, the doctor is there to observe physical symptoms that are visibly displayed externally on the patient. The doctor will then call for some blood tests to be done and here comes my role in performing the necessary testing ordered by the doctor. Once the testing of the blood samples are done, we will send the results back to the doctor for them to either diagnose or make medical decisions.
In conclusion, the role of a medical technologist is as important as a doctor. We as medical technologist are highly educated personnel providing “internal” information. The doctors are ofcourse even more educated to use both visual inspection and these “internal” information to treat the patients and ensure their recovery.
Image 2: The Medical Technologist take center stage here in between the doctors and the patients. This describes the relationship of these 3 roles. The doctor will order and obtain the necessary blood samples and tests from the patients. Subsequently, the medical technologist will analyse these samples and submit the test result reports to the doctor. Finally the doctor will make medical decisions and diagnosis to treat the patient. This cycle will continue on until the patient has fully recovered.
Disclaimer: Any views or opinions presented in this post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company or manufacturer. The author accepts no liability for the content of this post, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

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