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The Importance of Pathology Collection

31 May 2018

It’s a job that’s fundamental to our healthcare system, taking technical skill, compassion, and care, but the thing is, you probably haven’t heard of it. Pathology.

If you have ever had a blood sample taken or been handed a small plastic cup to pee in, chances are, it was a pathology collector doing it.

Pathology collectors collect these samples (and a few other types) from patients and process them ready to be analysed. It is an absolutely vital role within our healthcare system and it takes just four months to get qualified.

Courses in Pathology Collection are often considered soft entry points into other medical professions.

Rupakshi Nischal, a teacher of Pathology Collection at Melbourne Polytechnic, says many students try out pathology collection to gain experience and a foothold in healthcare.

“A lot of our students want to get into the medical profession. They might want to do nursing in the future, or they might want to do paramedics, occupational therapy or physiotherapy. They decide to start with this Certificate III in Pathology Collection because it gives them great exposure to the medical world.”

“It is a great gateway to work as a pathologist. If after a few years of doing pathology they decide they want to go into another stream further into nursing or paramedics, they do have those pathways.”

“They will be able to get Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) towards diploma or certificate programs if [another course] has the same unit.”

She also says the work is flexible and can offer pathology collectors a lot of opportunities in different settings: “They can work in a medical clinic, at the pathologist clinic in a hospital, on the ward, in aged care, or on the road collecting samples from those who can’t travel.”

“[Graduates] do find they like that flexibility and there is shift work in there as well. So they could decide to work only on weekdays, in the mornings, or nights or weekends.”

But, it's more than simple gateway with flexible job outcomes. For enrolled nurse and now qualified pathology collector, Leigh Canty, it was just a change she was looking for. Her passion for helping people when they are sick or needing treatment remains as strong as ever, even after 30 years of nursing.

“I decided I would like a change and felt Pathology Collector was the best fit for me to continue in the health industry and to help people feel as comfortable as possible while having pathology tests.”

“I saw the course advertised and felt it was something I would be interested in pursuing. I went along to the information night, sat the aptitude test, which I passed, and enrolled on the spot.”

Since completing the Certificate III, Leigh has been sidelined after an operation, but she says the friends she made studying pathology collection at Melbourne Polytechnic are now working in the industry and loving it.

She says the course taught her a lot, but has also reinforced some things she’d learned 30 years ago.

“I really enjoyed learning the theory behind this job and probably the best part was learning how to take blood and other specimens and putting these into practice in the ‘prac room’.”

The course, implemented by practicing and industry connected pathology collection trainers, has a hard focus on simulating real world situations.

Both Greensborough and Preston Campus’s at Melbourne Polytechnic have all the modern equipment pathology collectors use in the real world. They even have simulation arms that mimic the responses of a real human arm, making the experience of collecting blood as close to the real thing as possible.

Leigh says having industry trained professionals running the course was a big help: “The teachers were so helpful and very patient if we didn't understand some things and kept going over them until we did. They were also very encouraging while we were learning to take blood.”

For anyone looking at pathology as either a gateway into healthcare or a new career, Leigh has some advice: “If they are serious about wanting to get into this field, then I would highly recommend this course.”

“It is not a high paying job, so you have to be doing it for the reason of wanting to get into this field of work.”

If you are looking for a foothold in the medical industry or a new flexible career take a look at our Certificate III in Pathology Collection for more information.