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#CouragetoCareSG: Behind the scenes with a medical technologist


Nataline Tang, Senior Medical Technologist at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases’ National Public Health Laboratory.

Unlike some of my healthcare colleagues who interact directly with COVID-19 patients, I work behind the scenes, analysing results of test samples to determine if the virus is present in them. Despite handling possibly positive samples, I feel safe in the laboratory as the team has received necessary training to treat all samples with care, and is provided with necessary protective equipment.

My job is often a race against the clock to meet the turnaround time and report results for our colleagues on the front line, or for the purpose of contact tracing.

A personal challenge was adjusting to the new shift timings and working with new colleagues. Due to the high influx of samples to be tested, our teams were reorganised and each of us had to adapt to the working styles of our new teammates.

Staying alert and good teamwork are crucial in generating timely results for processes downstream.

Changes in infection control protocols are a must. In the past, we just had to wear our lab coats. With COVID-19, we now have to demarcate areas in the laboratory and don Personal Protective Equipment. In addition, as part of safe distancing and safe management measures, we are also not allowed to have meals with our colleagues.

I am grateful for my family who has been very supportive, even proud of my involvement in fighting the pandemic. Due to COVID-19, I had been unable to spend my weekends with them, but they did not complain, and had only concern for my well-being and the risks of infection. 
I reassured them by telling them about the safety measures put in place at work.

The public outpouring of support for all healthcare workers during this period has been heartening. On taxi rides home after my shifts, I often meet kind drivers who thank me for doing my job and are happy to drive me home. After a hard day’s work, nice remarks such as “Have a good rest, and stay safe!” really warms my heart and reminds me that my work makes a difference.

Through the sharing of my experiences as a medical technologist, I hope more people will gain a deeper understanding of the crucial work that goes on behind the scenes and appreciate what we do. This will boost the morale of all healthcare staff and keep us going.