October 4, 2021, by Lee Mei Kee
Student Sharing: Internship Experience at Pantai Hospital
This article is written by Tan Ban Li, Biomedical Sciences Year 3 student.
How did you find the internship position?
When I first started looking for an internship position, I browsed through the websites of many different medical laboratories including Sunway medical laboratories, Gribbles pathologies, KPJ Lablink and so on and I would email them about internship positions as well as call their Human Resource departments. Most of them however, weren’t looking for or accepting interns due to the worsening situation of the pandemic at the time. After waiting for a response for quite a period of time, I managed to obtain a position at the Bangsar branch of Pantai premier pathologies with the help of Dr Fang, who was helping us with applications at the time too.
What is your role?
My friends and I who were at the Bangsar branch rotated throughout a total of 10 different departments including microbiology, histology, cytology, haematology, biochemistry, specimen reception, outpatient department, blood bank, urine & serology and also immunohistochemistry. Each of the departments had their routine set of tests that they would perform and we as interns would observe and if they allowed it we would help with the tests as well. For example, the Biochemistry department performs many different tests including measuring Troponin T, Bilirubin, Dengue antigen tests just to name a few out of many, many different tests performed. The other departments also had their own set of routine tasks they perform and we would observe and help them with their tasks. Some of the tasks were more mundane and perhaps less interesting than the others but it was still important to get the job done.
What did you learn during your internship?
As I mentioned earlier, we would help the different departments with their tasks so we learned how to perform the different tests hands on depending on the departments we were in. I think more importantly however, we learnt about the principles behind the tests like why the tests are performed, the different abnormalities associated with different abnormal parameters measured by each of the different tests performed.
One skill that we picked up was phlebotomy. I learned about phlebotomy in the outpatient department and about the different techniques and expertise required to draw blood from different patients. It was definitely an eye-opening experience learning how to deal with the different types of patients that come every day. We also had the opportunity to perform phlebotomy on each other so we did get hands on experience on doing so rather than just observing it!
Other than the practical skills and theories that I learned during my internship, I also picked up certain soft skills such as communication, problem solving skills, how to work under pressure and that experience is definitely different from what anyone will experience at school. That was perhaps one of the most important things that I experienced here and working at this medical laboratory also gave me insight to this industry and perhaps gave me a clearer idea of what I want to do in the future after I graduate from the Biomedical Sciences course at University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM).
Did the job duties you were given match your knowledge and skill? How does Biomedical Sciences course help to prepare you for the internship?
Other than the phlebotomy part that I mentioned earlier, most of the other tests and principles behind it were taught by the UNM Biomedical Sciences course and that definitely helped us be more prepared for the internship. I will say though that performing the tests hands on really put things into perspective as prior to this we only learnt about everything on paper and in theory thus it was hard for me at times to actually picture how everything worked in the bigger picture. It was important that we did our own research on certain topics or tests we didn’t understand as well. Because of this I learnt a lot of new topics and theories that I haven’t learned yet.
Tips for successful internship? What situation challenged you or made you difficult to adjust when you worked as an intern?
I do think that most students who will work as interns will be well prepared knowledge wise as many of those theories that you will use will be covered in lectures. But as I mentioned in the earlier section, there will be certain theories or practical skills that we won’t be familiar with thus it is important that we always keep an open mind and be prepared to always learn something new. I personally am a more introverted person so it was sometimes a challenge to take the initiative and ask the staff to learn about the department. But I managed to overcome it once I started to get more comfortable with the surroundings and kept in mind that everyone has to start somewhere, including the staff working there.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind while interning however, is that wherever a student might be he/she should have the initiative to engage the staff and learn more about the department that you will be stationed in. There will always be something new to learn whether it be some new theory or practical skills so it is important to ask. In my experience, most of the staff seem busy and unwilling to teach at first but once I asked them they were more than willing to show me around the department and teach me what I needed and wanted to know whenever they had any free time. So yes, if I have any advice to give for future interns, it would be to have the initiative to learn and don’t be afraid to ask any questions if you have any, we all have to start from somewhere.