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Laboratory Techs

Hello all!

  I am an MLT and would like to talk to other MLT's about their experience on Mercy.  I would think, especially on the African Ship that you would see many things that we only studied in school.  What have you seen specimen wise that was amazing?  What are your responsibilities?  What would you recommend for other MLTs to know before coming on board? 

I'd love to hear from you all!  By the way, Happy Be-lated Lab week!  



  • Cecily CampbellCecily Campbell Posts: 8

    Hello from Cameroon!  I will pass your questions on the our medical lab techs to answer on your behalf.  Lab Week was celebrated here on board!  Thank you for volunteering to serve with us.  

    Cecily Campbell
  • AlyssaRoweAlyssaRowe Posts: 140 - Current Staff
    Hi Mallory!

    I'm excited to hear of your interest in serving with Mercy Ships as a Medical Lab Tech! I'd be happy to pass along the role description and answer any further quesitons about the role or applicaiton for you!

    Please reach out anytime to [email protected]


    Alyssa, Medical Recruiter
  • Cecily CampbellCecily Campbell Posts: 8
    Hello Mallory,

      Our Senior Lab Tech has wrote this in reply to your questions:
    Hello Mallory,

    It is exciting to hear from you!  My name is Kathy and I currently serve as the Senior Lab tech on board.  Happy belated lab week as well, I hope you found some way to celebrate!

    As for your questions, here are a few interesting things we see on the Africa Mercy:

    We do a lot more parasitology testing than we do at home (at least with my background), especially for stool parasites.  I have seen quite a few different worm eggs and amoeba/  Definitely not what you would find at home unless you work at a reference lab!

    We also tend to see few more cold reacting antibodies (Anti-M and Anti-N) than I remember seeing at the hospital I worked at.  Of course this all depends on your facility and what sorts of things you see there.

    The lab is also responsible for manager blood donors and collecting donor units.  This is something that I learned coming to the ship, as most lab techs don't typically do this.  It is a fun way to get to know fellow crew members.  We also transfuse whole blood unit which is also something unique since we typically use components at home.

    For the most part, however, the ship lab functions like a typical Western lab and does the main testing in the 4 sections (Hematology, Chemistry, Microbiology and Blook Bank). We are responsible for keeping all the machines running with QC and routine maintenance.  We provide accurate and timely lab results to other members of the helath care team.  Currently there are 3 techs on board that do the daily work and share on call duties during the off times.  

    As for the prep for volunteering, I would keep up your skills as a generalist , as we work in the four departments listed above.  For many, this means brushing up on microbiology plate reading and identification skills and also phlebotomy skills since we draw a fair amount of blood.  For chemistry and hematology the instruments are straight forward, but having a general oeverall knowledge of reference ranges and what values mean is always useful.  Depending what counrty you work in, the units may be different.  We function using American units/reference ranges.  For blood bank we use the tube methos for all type and screens and the rare antibody panels we run on positive screens.  

    I hope this gives you more insight into what the lab is like on the ship.  We work hard, but also have a lot of fun.  Hope to see you on the ship one day! smiley

    Mercy Ships lab techs during lab week 2018.
  • Mallory MarenkoMallory Marenko Posts: 2
    Thank You for the information!  

    I am somewhat a generalist at my current critical access hospital, but we don't have Microbiology anymore :( which was my favorite subject in school.  Your lab sounds very much like the lab here; we only have three techs as well it's a bit stressful at times.  I would, however, like to know which machines you guys use for hematology and chemistry.  I'm familiar with the Dimension XL, Vitros 200, Sysmex 5000, and Coulter Beckman 600 are any of these onboard? 

    You are correct, we don't make any blood donations, but we do use the gel method for blood bank I'll have to brush up on tube method.  

    Thanks so much for taking the time to respond!  

  • Cecily CampbellCecily Campbell Posts: 8
    In the AFM lab we currently use the Abbott Emerald analyzer for hematology which is a basic but comprehensive cell counter that performs 3 part differentials.  For chemistry we use the Biomerieux MiniVidas for immunoassay testing (Thyroid levels, HIV confirmation, Hep B titers and a few others).  For general chemistries (electrolytes, liver and kidney function, lipid panels, etc.) we use a Fuji model that uses dry slides for each test. They are all easy to learn how to use and work well for us on the ship.

    Hope this helps you see more about what lab life is like on-board! J

    Have a good day,


  • JasminHuangJasminHuang Posts: 9
    Hi! I'm Jasmin, I'll be serving as a MLS onboard starting in December 2018. I currently work solely in microbiology, so I'm really familiar with that area, but I wasn't sure which (analytes?) typical reference ranges I should be brushing up on in preparation. I used tube method in school for blood banking, but if there are any useful concepts (or even procedures I could get a start on reading), I'd like to know so I can better prepare!
  • AndreaSchmidAndreaSchmid Programs Senior Staffing Manager Posts: 35 admin
    Hi Jasmin,

    I am the Medical Staffing Manager at Mercy Ships, and I have asked our Sr. Med Lab Tech to reach out to you with the answers to your questions.  You should be hearing from her soon.

    Thank you for being one of our amazing volunteers!  I hope your time onboard is very rewarding.

    Kind regards,

    Andrea Schmid
  • BillFosdikeBillFosdike Posts: 2
    Hi. I’m from South Australia and hopefully joining Africa Mercy Laboratory team next year.
    Interesting discussion here. Just wondering if histology is part of the lab work?

  • RussellLowryRussellLowry Posts: 2

    Hi there. I am joining the Africa mercy laboratory team in March. I would like to know what anti-malaiial drug is suggested for this area. and do you need to take it for the full deployment?

  • AndreaSchmidAndreaSchmid Programs Senior Staffing Manager Posts: 35 admin

    @RussellLowry , We do recommend taking malaria prophylaxis for the full deployment. Mefloquine and Doxycycline, for malaria prophylaxis, are available through the ship-based Pharmacy. They are easy to procure and cheap.

  • RussellLowryRussellLowry Posts: 2

    Hi Andrea,
    Thank you for the advice. I will bring a course or two of Doxycycline with me, but it's great to know I can get more onboard. Do you have any sugestions of what I need to bring apart frm the usual?

  • AndreaSchmidAndreaSchmid Programs Senior Staffing Manager Posts: 35 admin

    I can't think of anything that is not mentioned in the Volunteer Guidebook.

  • AndreaSchmidAndreaSchmid Programs Senior Staffing Manager Posts: 35 admin

    I hope you have a wonderful time onboard @RussellLowry !

  • dimerm90dimerm90 Posts: 2

    I am applying to a Mercy Ship as a Medical Technologist. My question is I am probably a lot older than most of the other people. Do you think I would still fit in or would feel out of place?

  • dimerm90dimerm90 Posts: 2

    Hi, I am applying but have a question to the people who are serving but still have a job back home: how did you get the time off from your job? Labs are so short staffed that I am surprised if a lab director lets you take a "sabbatical". I am not sure how I will do it; might just have to retire first!

  • AndreaSchmidAndreaSchmid Programs Senior Staffing Manager Posts: 35 admin

    Thank you for your desire to serve in Africa with Mercy Ships! There is a wide variety of age groups and nationalities onboard the ship, and you shouldn't feel out of place at all.

  • AaronCoelhoAaronCoelho Posts: 1

    Can you tell me exactly what the price for Mefloquine and Doxycycline are on board and how many pills come in the package? This will help me properly budget. Thank-you

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