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Life as a Med Lab Tech


I am a Medical Laboratory Technologist and I am in the process of applying to work on the Africa Mercy, but in the meantime, I have a bunch of questions!

What does a typical day look like in terms of type of work, schedule?

How many techs are working at any given time?

How big is the lab? Is it separated into departments or does everyone work together?

Do we have to collect blood as Lab Techs?

What tests do you typically run?

What type of analyzers do you have?

Is it okay if I don't have official Microbiology training? (I still learned it in school and did 10 weeks of practicum training as a student)

Where does the blood for blood transfusions come from?

I'm sure I'll have more questions soon, but that's what I have come up with so far.

Thank you!



  • JasminHuangJasminHuang Posts: 9
    Hi Allyse,

    I just got accepted to serve as an MLS for the 2018-2019 mission in Guinea. I can post what Colleen (lab manager) sent me about daily happenings, hopefully this is helpful! I, too, have been looking to connect with some past Mercy Ships MLS but looks like our kind are few and far between :)



    Basically, the shipboard lab is like a small hospital lab providing services in ALL major areas of diagnostic work: hematology, biochemistry, immunology, microbiology, blood banking, urinalysis/serology, tropical medicine, and cytology/histology specimen prep/staining. On board the Africa Mercy there are 3 full time staff who share the responsibility of 24/7 services. Of course, the main bulk of the workload is done during the "day shift" but techs also share off hours call time and weekend call. We serve the diagnostic needs of 4 operating theaters, along with patient wards and ICUs with about 80 on-ship patient capacities. The lab also supports the crew clinic that cares for the 450+ Africa Mercy crew.


    The Africa Mercy hospital ship was launched in 2007.  The medical laboratory is dynamic and expanding services every year to meet the changing demands of our surgical programs and to grow strategically with the advancement of diagnostic methods and technology.  I am very excited about this truly state-of-the-art lab and would be happy to answer any questions you might still have about the unique Mercy Ships Medical Laboratory.


    On board the Africa Mercy, we currently use the tube method for our blood banking, and store only small amounts of whole blood and packed cells due to our unique lab structure and patient needs.  The majority of our blood transfusions are fresh whole blood, from our crew who serve as our "walking blood bank" and given specifically when needed.



    We also have automated biochemistry and hematology but require knowledge of peripheral blood smears for a variety of evaluations, as well as urinalysis and stool microscopy. Our microbiology is currently done using Microscan ID / sensitivity panels and we read them manually.

  • Thanks for sharing Jasmin that was very helpful :)

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