When it comes to selecting hospitals to partner with for St Jude College’s medical technology internship programme, the primary consideration is how busy a medical facility is to give students the taste of a real work setting.

According to Ma. Cristina Mina Dagunan, dean of the college’s Medical Technology Department, she opts for public hospitals as training facility because she wants her students to experience the “very busy” life of a medical technologist.

“I prefer government hospitals so the skills acquired by our students is comparable, if not better, than other students from bigger schools,” she tells MIMS in an interview.

St Jude, which only started offering the medical technology course in 2012, has as its partners the San Lazaro Hospital, Tondo Medical Center and the Philippine Heart Center, all known to be extremely high traffic medical facilities.

Having been a clinical instructor, Dean Dagunan is familiar with how public hospitals operate, and knows which ones are the busiest, and where her interns can benefit the most from their experience.

The highly experienced medical technologist cited the reasons why she wants her interns to be busy while training that will make them excellent candidates for professional positions once they graduate and earn their license.

Confidence level

Training in a facility where there is hardly any down time helps develop the confidence level of an intern. For one, they will no longer be shocked at the pace and frenzy inside laboratories when they work as registered medical technologists.

Exposure to a busy work setting also teaches medtech students to perform their tasks independently. “With or without guidance, they can perform their duties because they are already familiar with how workplace is run,” the dean explained.

A busy hospital will enable interns to gain a high level of confidence.

Motivated students

And a confident intern eventually becomes self-motivated because not only do they know what to do, but more importantly, they know they can do the job and do it well.

A medtech intern who is motivated and capable of carrying out the job does not always need to be supervised, or worse, to be asking questions all the time, she said.

“Sometimes, asking too much is an indication that you don’t know enough to accomplish the work,” Dean Dagunan pointed out. Ask only when you have some doubts about what needs to be done, she said, but if you know what to do, then just do it.

Develop good working relations

As important as continuous education when in the healthcare profession is knowing how to get along with all types of people.

A workplace that is a beehive of activity means a medical technologist will be interacting with many people - patients, laboratory staff, colleagues - and will have to know how to get along with most everyone.

Other than learning as much as they can in the workplace, developing interpersonal relations with co-workers is a skill that interns must learn.

“It’s a necessary skill because you cannot just confine yourself to what you’ve been assigned to do,” she said. “You must know how to get along with all kinds of people.”

Skills - professional and interpersonal - are extremely important for medical technologists. Photo credit: Dave Erwin Festin
Skills - professional and interpersonal - are extremely important for medical technologists. Photo credit: Dave Erwin Festin

She pointed out that most employers today are more concerned about an individual’s EQ than IQ, so Dean Dagunan wants to ensure her graduates are what employers will want to hire.

Trainable, not just intelligent

“You don’t work alone. You will encounter all types of people so knowing how to get along is best. Because wherever you go, you know how to deal with people, and your work environment will always be pleasant.”

More than extremely intelligent students, what the medical technology mentor wants are people who are trainable.

It’s extremely important for a medical technologist, or any healthcare worker for that matter, to know how to act when put in different situations. Being able to quickly adapt to any given scenario also demands knowing how to relate to whoever is around you, she said.

Values, she underscored, cannot be taught in one sitting or even one semester. It must be applied until it is inculcated in an individual.

Beyond skilled, knowledgeable and competent medical technologists, Dean Dagunan puts emphasis on professional and interpersonal behaviour to ensure her graduates will be sought after once they complete the course.

“The kind of interns and graduates is after all, a reflection on me, and the school, so we all need to show our best.” MIMS

St. Jude College in Manila is the partner school of the Department of Health-MIMAROPA for its scholarship programme for medical technologists and pharmacists.