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Meet Monu – Paediatric Pathology Collector – Hunter region

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15th September, 2023

Let’s learn more about Monu. Official title – Phlebotomist (adults and children) Pathology Collector.


How long have you worked with NSWHP? 

Four­teen years in New­cas­tle, John Hunter Hos­pi­tal. I start­ed my pathol­o­gy career with a pri­vate pathol­o­gy provider for three or four years. There, I could­n’t go any fur­ther work­ing with chil­dren as I had lim­it­ed expo­sure with young patients. I always want­ed to work with babies and kids, so I moved to pub­lic pathol­o­gy for more pae­di­atric experience. 


What is different between paediatric and adult collections?

It’s very dif­fer­ent. With adult patients, you can talk to them and make sure they under­stand what you are there to do. If they say no, that’s it; you respect their deci­sion. But with kids, it takes work. I talk to the par­ents or car­ers and explain it to them to gain con­sent. Most of the time, their doc­tor has already explained it to them before we get there. The child may not under­stand or be able to talk, so you need to put them at ease in oth­er ways and encour­age the child to relax.  Pae­di­atric col­lec­tions are not always easy – but it is unbe­liev­ably reward­ing to know you are help­ing care for that child.  It might take more than one attempt some­times. You need to be mind­ful that there could be oth­er things going on for that fam­i­ly. Fam­i­lies are often upset and can be under­stand­ably emo­tion­al, and you need to take time and not rush your time with them. This role is always chal­leng­ing and I still learn new things every day, but that’s why I enjoy it. I see lots of chil­dren with intel­lec­tu­al or phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties who have dif­fer­ent needs. We use a dif­fer­ent approach and often need two col­lec­tors to sup­port these patients. We always try to col­lect blood on the first attempt to avoid the child get­ting too uncom­fort­able. Before see­ing the patient, I have to know the envi­ron­ment I’m walk­ing into. Every sit­u­a­tion is unique, and every patient and their expe­ri­ence is indi­vid­ual. They may be upset or anx­ious. As pro­fes­sion­als, we con­stant­ly assess the risk and the envi­ron­ment we are going into.  


What characteristics or personality do you need to do your job well?

Well, you have to be a very calm per­son. You need a lot of patience when you work with chil­dren. But, not just the chil­dren, the par­ents too. I try to put myself in their shoes and think how I’d feel if it were my child. I step into that space with­out fuss and give qui­et assurance.


What is the hardest thing about being a collector?

When I see kids and their par­ents suf­fer­ing and not get­ting bet­ter, it’s so hard to deal with that. It’s tough to see that every day, and of course, it takes a toll on you too. You wish peo­ple did­n’t have to go through that. 


How do you switch off at the end of the day?

I learnt how to do it. One of my teach­ers told me, ‘You walk in the door in the morn­ing, hang up your coat, and you’re at work – it’s work time’. When I walk out and put on my coat, that’s my sig­nal; I don’t take any­thing home or let any­thing affect my family.


Would you recommend your job to others considering pathology collection?

Yes, I’d def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend it. It’s a very fam­i­ly-friend­ly job you can shape around your lifestyle. You can work shifts and choose ear­ly or lat­er shifts depend­ing on what works with your com­mit­ments. It works for my fam­i­ly. I start­ed by com­plet­ing my Cer­tifi­cate III in Pathol­o­gy Collection.


What makes you come to work every day?

It’s the love of team­work; we work with the oth­er girls as a team. I enjoy being around lots of dif­fer­ent peo­ple and fam­i­lies. I pre­fer not to be in one spot all day, and the ward rounds give me vari­ety plus I main­ly work with chil­dren, which I love. I see the tini­est of bubs. I am pas­sion­ate about shar­ing my expe­ri­ence work­ing with chil­dren. I men­tor new pae­di­atric col­lec­tors and help them devel­op their skill sets.  


What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Work­ing with pae­di­atric health­care teams is like a big fam­i­ly where you know every­one and they all know you. The nurs­ing staff, the doc­tors, etc. We are a tight-knit mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary team. Work­ing as a team – that’s the most cru­cial piece of advice I ever got. Your team is your fam­i­ly, and you sup­port each oth­er every day – nev­er for­get that.


Outside of work, what brings you joy?

I have three kids of my own. They’re big kids now, though. My baby is 18, so not much of a baby any­more. I’m in a choir, a church choir as a singer. I’m not very good, but I enjoy it. I also arrange flow­ers for friends and fam­i­ly.   


If you hadn’t started in pathology, what do you think you’d be doing now?

Before pathol­o­gy, I worked in the men­tal health sec­tor with peo­ple with demen­tia for 16 years. Still car­ing for peo­ple and it worked well for my fam­i­ly and lifestyle because I could do night shifts while my kids were young. It was flex­i­ble and worked for us. When they start­ed school, I decid­ed to make the change, but I think I’d be doing some­thing like that, still in health and well­be­ing.  


Are you inter­est­ed in becom­ing a pathol­o­gy col­lec­tor? Find all our oppor­tu­ni­ties in our careers sec­tion.


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