There are different health care workers in a hospital, and I can fully understand that if not all, some people are not aware of this. Some will refer to the general workers of allied health as nurses or doctors since these professions are often the first line in the hospital.
I am a registered Medical Technologist. Some people may call it as Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Medical Laboratory Scientist, or Medtech in short. This post is about sharing awareness to others about my profession:
1. BECOMING AN RMT TAKES ENDURANCE
It took us 4 to 4.5 years to finish studying our course. Our first two years revolve around studying general subjects like most courses do. We have 2 to 3 major subjects per semester during these years, such as Organic Chemistry, Anatomy & Physiology, Biochemistry, and Introduction to Medical Technology.
I studied at a well-known university in Sampaloc, Manila (near Recto) from 2011-2015. After passing the second semester of my second year in college, we were required to take the Battery Exam. This exam compromises questions about our major subjects for the past 2 years. Students who pass the exam and have a good standing of GWA are eligible to become third years. Otherwise, you’re required to transfer to other universities offering the same course to continue your education, or shift course in the same university.
The real struggle, like any other courses in college, begins at third year. Most subjects are now worth 5 units each. It can be nerve-wracking juggling all these subjects, and the never-ending promo boards after the semester ends, and I can’t imagine how much difficult it is for those who are now studying proper medicine.
(Promo boards: event where professors are gathered to discuss the status of each student whether to pass or fail him or her on subjects taken based on the student’s performance)
After 2 to 3 semesters considering we pass all our subjects and thesis, we proceed to internship. We are now at the bottom of the food chain, and we get to experience how it is to work in the laboratory.
Then, we prepare for the local board exam, which takes about 5 to 6 months of review. Finally, after receiving loads of text messages and calls from loved ones telling you passed the board exam, you can officially say you’re an RMT (Registered Medical Technologist). Naks!
2. MEDTECHS ANALYZE YOUR BLOOD AND OTHER BODY FLUIDS
Everything gross, actually. LOL Remember when the doctor told you to go to the laboratory to get your blood tested for CBC? It was us who tested it.
That’s pretty much the gist of what we do, but our importance to the hospital doesn’t stop from that. We provide quality blood products to be transfused to our patients, making sure they do not have transmissible infections and are compatible to the recipient; we meticulously analyze your blood chemistry, and other parameters before releasing it to you or your doctor; we culture blood, urine or discharge in the laboratory and check for suspected growth of pathogens so a physician can provide proper medication to patients.
Other skills are: not easily grossed out, excellent phlebotomy, multi-tasking, standing for long hours, and can work under pressure (kasi ang daming STAT).
3. WE ARE AN ENDANGERED SPECIE
Like other allied health workers, we are limited. Since only few people are familiar about our work, there are few people enrolling in the program. When I was in high school I wanted to study B.S. Psychology or B.S. Biology. Even I wasn’t aware that such profession existed until someone told me about it.
Most medical technology students also continue studying a higher education in hopes of becoming a medical doctor or a professor. Since the pay is low despite long working hours, graveyard shifts, and no holidays, others go for the greener pastures by working abroad. And so, our community is small. Mutual friends are common, no wonder we immediately befriend one another in conventions and trainings easily!
4. OUR JOB ISN’T FOR THE WEAK AT HEART
I honestly love the thrill of working in the laboratory. Sure there will always be problems in our workplace like in any other field, and sometimes I just want to quit and change career, but there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing Patient X having her platelet count fall under normal range after getting diagnosed with dengue, or Patient Y recovering and finally discharged after his major operation, all well.
Sleepless nights, missed events, overtime and still underpaid, yet we still pledge to serve our fellow. But we are still human beings in need of rest and are prone to shortcomings. We only ask for our patients to treat us with courtesy and manner, the same as we do to them. Next time you see a medtech or any other allied health worker, a thank you or a smile is always appreciated!