Medical Laboratory Scientist, LabPLUS
Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science
Even without direct patient contact you can still help people, says Kayla Gray who completed a Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science and is now working as a medical laboratory scientist at LabPLUS, which is part of the Auckland District Health Board.
“Medical laboratory science involves the analysis of samples from patients within the hospital and in the community. Approximately 70% of the decisions about a patient’s diagnosis are based on the interpretation of tests performed by medical laboratory scientists, so we’re able to make a huge difference behind the scenes.
“I’m currently employed in the antenatal Down syndrome screening department. This involves screening pregnant women for the possibility of having a child with chromosomal abnormalities. This is done by analysing the measurements of certain analytes in the maternal serum and combining these with nuchal translucency ultrasound measurements to calculate the overall risk of a child with chromosomal abnormalities.”
The theory and practical experience she gained as part of her AUT degree are the backbone of her job now, says Kayla who specialised in clinical chemistry and histology in her Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science.
“It’s interesting to link together everything you’ve learnt and interpret test results to see what’s really going on with the patient. Not every case is black or white, so it’s always interesting to put the theory into practice.”
Discovering her passion
As passionate as she is about medical laboratory science, Kayla’s university journey initially started a with a more general science degree.
“I finished high school not really sure what I wanted to do, but knew I wanted to do something in science. I decided to keep my degree quite general and completed a double degree in biological sciences and statistics. The laboratory components of that degree were what I enjoyed most, so I started to research laboratory-related degrees and came across the Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science.
“Once I started my degree at AUT and sat in my first lecture, I was so sure I had chosen the right degree for me. The lecturers are the most amazing bunch of people! They’re so willing to help you succeed and are passionate about what they’re teaching, which makes it so much easier to turn up to those 8am lectures.”
The people she met were one of the highlights of her time at AUT, says Kayla who received the award for the most outstanding Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science graduate and for the most outstanding graduate in biochemistry.
“The highlight for me was definitely meeting the people in my degree. As medical laboratory science is quite a small degree, it was awesome to learn in such a close-knit group and help each other get through it.”
Advice for other students
Kayla, who graduated from AUT at the end of 2019, has some great advice for other students.
“Know that it’s okay not to have everything figured out when you first start university. Whether you already know your niche or not, you’ll have plenty of time to figure out what’s right for you.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, she adds.
“It’s ok to ask questions if you don’t understand something. The lecturers are there to help you and they’re all super approachable.”