Want to save lives? Start with STEM

medical laboratory science STEM career QUT
The tests to check if people have COVID-19 are done by medical laboratory scientists. They also test blood and other fluids to help diagnose and manage diseases from diabetes to heart disease. Image: Shutterstock

If you’re into STEM and want to help save lives, medicine isn’t the only option

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health careers have been in the spotlight. We’ve heard a lot about the doctors and nurses saving lives at the front line.

But did you know that the tests to check if people have COVID-19 are done by medical laboratory scientists? They also test blood and other fluids to help diagnose and manage diseases from diabetes to heart disease.

Medical Laboratory Science QUT Kyle
Tang Ho (Kyle) Ngai is studying a Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science at QUT, in Brisbane.

And there are many other STEM careers that keep us healthy. Biomedical scientists develop medicines and vaccines, psychologists look after mental health, and sports and exercise scientists help prevent and manage injury and disease.

When he decided to study abroad after completing high school in Hong Kong, Tang Ho (Kyle) Ngai wanted to explore how chemistry and biology can help explain the world around us. He chose a Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science at QUT, in Brisbane.

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Keeping it real

Kyle’s in the third year of his degree. At first, he didn’t realise how much medical laboratory scientists do to help people. But thanks to experienced lecturers and visits to real-world medical science companies, this has changed.

Now, Kyle wants to use the biochemistry skills he’s learned at uni to help diagnose illnesses in babies and young children.

“If you diagnose disease early the chance of cure or treatment is better,” Kyle said.

And babies’ blood samples can be quite different to adults’. For example, a normal level of potassium for a child could give an adult a heart attack!

As Queensland’s only university of technology, QUT has great links with industry. In the final (fourth) year of Kyle’s degree, he’ll do a 12-week placement. He hopes to follow his interest in biochemistry at Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology in Brisbane. Kyle visited this lab during his first year.

“It would be a great place to work. It’s one of the world’s leading providers of medical diagnostics,” he says.

Kyle added that the real-world experiences and practical teaching style at QUT will help him adapt quickly to the workforce after graduating.

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Giving back to the community

Steven Weier is a senior lecturer in the Bachelor of Medical Science at QUT. He says students have done placements across Queensland, as far north as Cairns and inland to Toowoomba. Some also travelled to labs in Melbourne and Sydney. They can also choose to do half of their placement overseas.

Steven says many graduates from the Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science work as lab scientists in pathology. And with over 70 per cent of medical decisions based on pathology test results, they’re really helping people keep their health on track!

“They’re doing science, but giving something back to the community,” Steven says.

COVID-19 has led to a boom in demand for graduates, with almost all of them securing full-time employment.

“We can’t find graduates fast enough!” Steven says.

Graduates from QUT’s Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science are certified to work anywhere in Australia. And if they are keen to travel, their qualifications are also recognised in the UK, NZ and Hong Kong. A couple of grads have also found jobs in the US.

“It opens unlimited world opportunities,” Steven says.

To learn more about how a STEM degree at QUT can help you save lives, visit qut.edu.au/think-stem

Nadine Cranenburgh

Author: Nadine Cranenburgh

Nadine is an electrical and environmental engineer who works as a freelance writer and editor. She loves creating articles and content about exciting and complex technology.

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