Another attraction to studying medical laboratory science, according to Saskia, are the many specialisations on offer in the degree.
In fourth year, you get to go through all the different specialities, such as haematology, biochemistry, immunohematology and histology.
Haematology involves looking at red cells and a patient's blood. As a medical scientist, you can work in overseeing all of the blood products used in blood banking and blood transfusion medicine which can be lifesaving to a patient.
Histology is about the microscopic anatomy of biological tissues and cells, like checking a biopsy for skin cancer, for example. It also includes the use of stains and dyes to highlight different tissue structures.
Biochemistry relates to the biochemical profile we get from conducting blood tests used to evaluate the health of critical organs and systems, such as the liver and kidneys. We also analyse samples of serum, plasma and urine for specific chemicals that can have an impact on the body organs.
And then there’s microbiology, which includes looking at bacteria, viruses and other microbes. It’s the smelly side to med lab science, as the microbes or bugs release gases. Microbiology also has its own specialisations, such as PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) type of testing for infectious diseases, which is the test used to detect to COVID-19 and other viruses.
PCR tests are also used to identify if there's a genetic abnormality or gene mutation, which might predispose someone to a particular disease. It’s an exciting and expanding field of med lab science and there's a lot of opportunities developing.