The Medical Laboratory Scientist: Best Among The Rest

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By Joel Kosiso (JOELSCO)

While we took John to the hospital, he was rushed to the accident and emergency unit. In this unit of the hospital, emergencies that demand urgent attention are tackled to save lives. John had lost a lot of blood due to the severity of the injury he sustained. 

While he was lying on the bed, some attention was given to him by the doctors and the nurses around. The doctor who was leading got a container and added some drops of John’s blood to it. The blood was sent to a place we didn’t know. John was left to stay there without further treatments. That created an unusual scene. None of us was happy seeing him lying there. We were very anxious to see him survive this, I approached the leading doctor and asked “Hello Doc, why is he looking like he has been abandoned?”. 

“We have sent John’s blood sample to the laboratory, we are waiting to obtain a result so that we can go ahead with the treatments. He needs to be transfused but we need to know which blood would be compatible with his own”, he replied. 

I went out and needed to visit the laboratory unit. There, I saw another set of practitioners who were using the microscopes, test tubes, spectrophotometers, and much other equipment. They were staying in a specially designed room which they refer to as the laboratory. Here, they work very tirelessly trying to find out what is wrong with a patient. 

Normally, these groups of experts don’t have direct contact with the patients but they work in the laboratory to decide their fate. It was at this unit that John’s blood sample was sent. The organization of work and the comportment of the workers at this particular unit got me thrilled. Obviously, that group of medical practitioners was quite different from those I met at the accident and emergency unit and I was moved to ask who they were. I was told that they are called *Medical Laboratory Scientists*. 

A Medical Laboratory Scientist is a health science professional trained to analyze various human samples. In Nigeria, he is called a Medical Laboratory Scientist. In the UK, he is called a Biomedical Scientist. In the US and many other countries of the world, they may have different names but the jobs they do are the same. 

He is an expert, who uses samples obtained from the human body to identify what is wrong with a person, the exact cause of a health disorder, and through his knowledge of expertise formulate modalities for treatments and prevention of such disorders.

He serves as an oracle who people wait for to tell what he has seen.

Professionally, until he speaks; every other person is not sure. The doctors were waiting for a result from the scientists which will further guide them to know whether John should be transfused or not. 

In times of epidemics, pandemics, and the occurrences of strange infections and diseases, medical laboratory scientists are at the greatest risk of being infected. 

Medical Laboratory Scientists are not just trained to work in the hospital, they pass through a lot of training and study different courses to make them able to adapt to various fields of life. 

As a medical laboratory scientist, he can work in a hospital, pharmaceutical industries, food, and beverage companies, research institutes/laboratory, government agencies in charge of water, waste disposal, health formulations, in a university as a lecturer, as an equipment installation and maintenance expert, in a crime detection center, to mention but a few. 

Meanwhile, the result came out and John was transfused and every other treatment commenced. The case of John was an easier case where some treatments may be initiated before the laboratory releases an official statement using the result. In cases where the actual cause of the problem is not known, all wait to hear from the lab. 

They are the unsung heroes of the health sector and deserve to be appreciated. 

Next time when you see them, give them some respect!

Joel Kosiso (JOELSCO) is a Medical Laboratory Science student of the University of Nigeria Nssuka. He can be contacted via 08135592806