The future of lab care for Carol Ellis was set just when she became a teenager.
In grade 7, Carol Ellis did a project on a career in medical laboratory technology. Years later, she graduated from university with a degree in physical education but wasn’t sure that was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
She decided she wanted to go back to school and take some additional courses, and decided to go with her grade 7 interest of medical laboratory technology.
Now, she’s worked in the microbiology laboratory for 30 years.
Carol knows how important medical laboratory technologists (MLTs) are to a health care team. They work in the background to provide the results that a doctor uses to treat patients. And often, MLTs are the unknown factor in the successful treatment of a patient.
What do you enjoy about this field of care?
I enjoy analyzing the patient samples to provide the doctor with results that can be used to treat a patient. The work that the laboratory does really impacts patient care.
How did you end up becoming a medical lab technologist? Had you always wanted to be one?
Funny enough I did a grade 7 career project on medical laboratory technology. Then, after high school, I went to university and graduated with a degree in physical education with a specialty in athletic injuries/fitness appraisal.
I enjoyed the human science portion of my degree and a course in “epidemiology of disease” piqued my interest in the health care field again.
After graduation I worked as a fitness instructor for a year and realized that it was fun but not what I wanted to do forever. I looked at college courses and decided to go with my grade 7 interest of medical laboratory technology and here I am!
How has your work changed since you first started?
The majority of work in microbiology was not automated, which meant it was a lot of manual work and reading and entering reactions in order to determine an identification and sensitivity pattern.
Today however much of our identification and sensitivity testing is automated; we rely on instrumentation to do the work. Also identification of bacteria might have taken days before whereas now it takes only minutes.
Reports were also handwritten and copies were mailed to the floor back in the day, not computerized.
What is one of the most important functions of a medical lab technologist?
To provide results as quickly and accurately as possible to the physician so they can focus on the patient’s treatment earlier with the most current information.
What do you find most interesting about your work?
Every day is different. Microbiology is not 100 per cent automated so our expertise is required to interpret bacterial culture plates and to decide what the probable pathogen is.