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I’ve been a technician here for just over a year, after completing a Bachelor of Science at the University of Waikato, majoring in biology.
I like microbiology as it’s not always straightforward. There are lots rules and exceptions in how to process a specimen and there is always something new to learn.
As a technician we test for bacteria in such things as faeces, urine, fluids, cerebrospinal fluids and any other fluids from the body. Pretty much from any place where there could be an infection and therefore bacteria.
We are called the ‘smelly lab’. A lot of people think it’s quite gross.
It’s been fun this week because I’ve been learning to do faeces plate reading. I think it’s really interesting.
The plates go different colours like pink and yellow and are quite pretty.
You don’t really think about it as someone’s specimen, you just concentrate on what you are doing.
From when a specimen comes in to the laboratory, to when it goes out, it’s actually quite a journey.
It comes into Central Registration and then gets split off to different departments within the laboratory.
When the specimens come to us, the different staff members register different samples. We have specified agar plates that you put the specimen onto and incubate overnight. We look at them the next day and then the scientists read the plates. We also analyse samples to identify organisms and let doctors know which antibiotics to give patients, which ones they might be resistant to, or susceptive to.
" We have high tech equipment for when we need it, but pretty much everything we do is manual... "
We have high tech equipment for when we need it, but pretty much everything we do is manual.
We support other departments and help get them the information they need. It is like a village in that way, we are all interlinked at the hospital somehow.
All of our urgent specimens come from the Emergency Department (ED) or the Women’s Assessment Unit. They sometimes want to know straight away what’s going on with the person.
With spinal fluid it’s often urgent as we query meningitis. I’ve only had one or two results that have looked like meningitis though, so overall not many.
The work environment here is really good. There are a range of ages and people working here and we get along quite well.
We are on Level 3 of the Waiora Waikato Centre, next to the Biochemistry Lab and Central Registry.
There are eight or nine of us microbiologists here at any one time. On the weekends there are only three people, two scientists and a technician so it can get really busy as you are processing things by yourself.
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