As part of my degree, I am undertaking a 10-month industrial placement as a Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) with Eurofins County Pathology, Guildford. In my first blog I wrote about why I love working in a Laboratory now I would love to share a bit more about my experience so far!
Eurofins is a group of life sciences companies which provide testing services. They have a network of over 800 laboratories across the globe. I work at their Guildford site in Surrey Research Park, Eurofins County Pathology. This is a private diagnostic laboratory that receives biological specimens and provides analytical tests to its clients.
The majority of our samples are blood kits received by post though we also have an onsite phlebotomy service where blood can be taken for immediate testing. We also receive samples such as COVID-19 swabs, urine, saliva and sometimes faeces samples.
Luckily for me the faeces stay contained (for the most part), so I don’t have to deal with them up close! The laboratory is split into Sample Reception, Chemistry, Haematology and Virology. The plan was to spend time in each of these areas across the duration of on my placement.
Some background on my placement
My placement took on two students to enable experience in the laboratory and customer services. I have so far had multiple roles throughout my placement. I started my placement shadowing the senior MLA in sample reception to enable me to get a feel for how the Laboratory functions before moving to Chemistry.
I feel I learnt a lot about organisation and attention to detail in this section of the laboratory. I also value the fairly gentle introduction this role gave me to a working laboratory.
Chemistry makes up the bulk of the laboratory and is where the majority of samples are tested. In Chemistry, I supported the Biomedical Scientists to prepare, maintain and run automated analysis. I liked the hands-on element of this section as I independently tipped samples and loaded samples onto the analysers. I also enjoyed the investigative nature of this role as at the end of the day I would resolve sample discrepancies and queries with help from Biomedical Scientists (BMS) staff.
The rotations on my placement
In the new year, I moved to Haematology. This area of the laboratory handles the full blood samples. I was trained by a BMS to operate the various machines in this sector. For example, I was able to run Full blood counts and test the ESR of samples and prepare Omegas tests. I will move to Customer Services in late February for 3-4 weeks then continue the rest of my placement in Chemistry ending in Virology for the last 2 weeks.
The experience I have had over the last 6 months has expanded my understanding of a working laboratory. I was thrown right into each role and tasked with jobs which made a difference in the daily running of the laboratory. I felt truly valued as part of a team.
I would whole-heatedly recommend doing a placement to other students especially if they are unsure of what career path they intend to go down, as I was. Completing my placement has opened my eyes to the opportunities in the Biomedical Sciences sector, as well as identifying which sectors are not for me.