We accept all test referrals. Find a Collection Centre

Home Newsroom News

Meet Hayley – experienced pathology collector

Media Resources & Contact
13th September, 2023

Hayley Byatt has been with NSW Health Pathology for 5 years, but working in pathology for more than 20 years.

I’m a “Phle­botomist”, though no one calls us that nowa­days   – I think it sounds like “Flow­ery Bot­tom”. We’re called Pathol­o­gy Collectors.

It’s fun­ny, I’m a real sook when I have my blood tak­en. If you wave my blood in front of me, I’ll faint on you. But I can look at yours, till the cows come home. So I know what it’s like to sit in the chair.  If I can help some­body get through a blood test today, by learn­ing a few tricks that will also help them con­quer their fears for future vis­it too. That’s me doing my job prop­er­ly. By pay­ing it for­ward, if you will.

I start­ed in the pri­vate sec­tor and moved to pub­lic pathol­o­gy. I’ve been doing this longer than some of my col­leagues have been walk­ing the plan­et. Gosh, it’s prob­a­bly been a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry now.


Work­ing across the region

I’m based in Kempsey, but I work across the region. I could be in a hos­pi­tal on the wards or col­lect­ing in the out­pa­tients at our Port Mac­quar­ie Light­house Beach or Lake Innes col­lec­tion cen­tres, or vis­it­ing patients in their homes.


The right job feels like home

I moved to pub­lic pathol­o­gy for a change of scene and liked the idea of cama­raderie and being part of a close-knit team. On my first day, two of the col­lec­tors I used to work with gave me the biggest hug, I’ll nev­er for­get. I instant­ly thought, ‘I’ve done the right thing, you know.’ I just knew I was home.

My Kempsey team feels like a sec­ond fam­i­ly and we look out for each oth­er. We’re like puz­zle pieces – we all bring some­thing dif­fer­ent and com­ple­ment each oth­er. Peo­ple appre­ci­ate what we do, espe­cial­ly in a rur­al com­mu­ni­ty where they trav­el con­sid­er­able dis­tances just to see you.


Key traits of a pathol­o­gy collector

To be a col­lec­tor, you need to have patience, kind­ness, resilience, and a lot of empa­thy. The key is to treat peo­ple how you’d like to be treat­ed. Imag­ine if that was your mum, or sis­ter, or grand­moth­er. Then you can’t go wrong.


I encour­age oth­ers to start a career in pathology

It’s nice to see new staff – watch­ing them grow is love­ly. Now more than ever, we must be human and kind to each oth­er. Some days can be tax­ing, but oth­ers can be so unbe­liev­ably reward­ing. Covid has put many things into per­spec­tive. At the end of a long or dif­fi­cult day, I like to get back to nature. Whether it’s sit­ting under a tree or feel­ing the wind on your face. Some­times you just need to take your shoes off to ground your­self. Be it in the dirt, the grass, the mud or the rocks. It sim­ply reminds you it’s an enor­mous world and we’re just a tiny part of it.

I see a lot of peo­ple with can­cer. They’ve got enough going on. Every day is a strug­gle just to get up and be part of the world; they’re so brave. By lis­ten­ing, chat­ting and hav­ing a gig­gle, whilst hav­ing a blood test, it can often make a dif­fi­cult part of their jour­ney just that lit­tle bit easier.


Anoth­er thing I do to unwind is a bit of ‘trea­sure hunt­ing’ at op shops or antique stores. It helps me decom­press. At my local it does­n’t mat­ter what sort of day you’ve had. They know your name. They’ll smile at you and say hel­lo. This helps restore your faith in human nature. Bar­gain or not, I go home to my fam­i­ly refreshed.


My jour­ney to pathology

I grew up on a wheat farm in the coun­try and am lucky enough to have trav­elled the world. Fun­ni­ly enough, I found my hus­band back where I start­ed in my home­town. We moved to Port Mac­quar­ie for his work. I attend­ed a nurs­ing con­fer­ence and as fate would have it, I com­plet­ed my Assis­tant in Nurs­ing and trained on the job. I think of myself as an amal­ga­ma­tion of skills, amassed from all those fan­tas­tic nurs­es, and mid­wives I used to work with all those years ago.


I took some time off to have my son. When he was school-age, I decid­ed to get some qual­i­fi­ca­tions to hit the ground run­ning. I returned to work with a Cer­tifi­cate III in Pathol­o­gy Col­lec­tion. It was my first time away from my hus­band and son. I stayed onsite in the nurs­es’ quar­ters on cam­pus for about a month for the inten­sive course. I expect­ed to leave with a piece of paper and refreshed skills, but I also came away with life­long friends.

So, it just nat­u­ral­ly pro­gressed from there.


If I had­n’t start­ed in the health sec­tor, I’d be a retired jet fight­er pilot or dri­ving one of those mas­sive Ton­ka trucks in the mines.


Find all our oppor­tu­ni­ties in our careers sec­tion.


Skip to content