So my first week in clinicals started off at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. I don't know much about the hospital other than it was huge and rich. I say that because it wasn't a public hospital that could accept massive loads of un-insured patients like Parkland or JPS. Though this lab still had the hustle of a public lab, so i makes me wonder if they do accept anyone. well, anyone will simple medical insurance. You'd think it would be easy to be treated at a hospital, but this discussion is for another time.
Day 1: Molecular Pathology Lab.
This was the first time I arrived into a clinical with an knowledgeable academic background and I still couldn't hold back my enthusiasm. The tech that I shadowed is very kind and tried to give us (another classmate of mine) an overview of what they did in the lab. She was patient with us even though she had 3 RNA extractions to perform, a B & T cell PCR, and a bcr/abl FISH (i believe) to perform. suffice to say, most of those techniques take a long long time and interrupting the process can only come when there is incubation time. The lab had about 4 or 5 people in it at the time, so it seems like a normal sized clinical lab.
Day 2: Immunology Lab.
This one is not a large as the first lab, in fact it is in a separate building from all the older labs. It is very crowded and difficult to maneuver around other people, but it seems the people in there are used to it. This lab is filled with a lot of people and the doctor on staff is always there. Dr. Newman actually gave us a lecture over flowcytommetry and overviewed the various clinical applications for using them. This lab has 3 flows, which is quite a bit. Each one is used specifically for different things too. The lab also did electrophoresis and ANA staining, so i can understand why they needed so many people too. Not really quite where I would like to work, but interesting enough.
Day 3: Transplant/HLA Lab.
You would not believe all the ORGANS they had stacked up along the walls!?!? Just kidding! The HLA lab does not need the organs to test compatibility. They just need a blood sample. Not that many people know this, but organs need to be typed not just by blood group, but by their white blood cell groups. We spoke with the lab director there and talks a lot about the various transplants that needed to be tested. Hearts, skin, kidney, lungs, bone marrow. Though the sad thing is kidneys are the most needed organ. And people spend 3-5 years on a waiting list just to get to the top of the list. and on top of that, they need to be compatible with the donated kidney. In high demand places like NY, it may be up to 6-9 years. Though, if you needed a heart transplant, you would have a short wait (about 6 months) for a compatible heart. Bone marrow transplants have also changed into needing stem cells of the bone. And lots of people are unwilling to consent to stem cell donations because they associate those cells with dead babies. Which is completely untrue. In fact, it's less painful to give up stem cells than bone marrow. So if you ever wanted to donate bone marrow, donate stem cells instead. it's more pure for the patient and easier on you.
Day 4: Molecular Microbiology/Virology and Electron Microscopy Labs.
The molecular microbio/virology lab is ran by three techs per shift. It is because they have many automated machines that perform the amplification steps for them. This gives them more time to perform more samples, including MRSA, Gonorrheae/Chlamydia, HCV. This lab is so cool. Though, it wasn't as "fast-paced" or glamourous than I thought. Their virology section consisted of growth and fluorescent staining. I thought it was really neat, but by the looks on their faces, they felt like "if you've seen it once, you've seen them all." Maybe I'm more suited for the CDC or research lab.
The electron microscope lab was just ran by one guy and he performs maybe 1-2 runs a day. It takes about a good 3 hours to prep the machine and specimen and then about 30 mins - 1 hour to view the whole specimen and mark down areas where he thinks immune complexes are depositing onto kidneys. It's a really cool machine, but it seems like he's just by himself and really doesn't get much interaction :(
All in all, I liked Baylor. It's definitely a great place to be to find a specialized area and further your career in. The only thing that bugged me was the fact that every other person was just having a bad day or really hated their job. The parking cashier was a total bitch, screaming "Go!! JUST GO!" twice when I tried to give her my parking stub. The lunch people would change their attitude whenever they had to stop talking to their friends and do their jobs and interact with me. And without fail, at least one tech in every lab had the saddest face the whole day. I didn't know if it was because they hated visitors or just hated their job.
The only upbeat person I saw was Louise, and that's because I ran into her randomly in the cafeteria. Turns out she was working at the hospital as a Dietician / Nutritionalist. Everyone else had just a normal working face or a sour face. :\
Baylor is great, but definitely not a place for me. i need smiles. I hunger for them 350 days a year. the other days are usually sparsed out as bad days, which at those times, I hunger for blood.