Recently we caught up with CPSU Delegate and Medical Scientist Jackson Karas in the Microbiology Department in Pathology at the Royal Hobart Hospital. Jackson and fellow workers across Pathology labs do amazing work to help Tasmanians back on their feet and get to the bottom of their health concerns.
What does a medical scientist in pathology actually do?
“What I tell my family is – when your blood gets taken and it goes away – we’re the people who do the magic to it and give the results to the doctors.”
“In microbiology we test sputum, wound swabs, urine, blood cultures, tissue samples”
“We take the samples and put them on plates of agar, grow the bug and see what it is, whether it’s Staphylococcus aureus, for example. Then we test the bugs against antibiotics and then tell the doctors what they are sensitive to.”
It’s a busy service. Samples come from the hospital, the outpatient service and referred samples from other labs.
In terms of ebb and flows, it’s always go-time at Pathology. “People don’t stop being sick – it’s a flat-out job and a busy service.”
Jackson is union because he’s experienced employers doing the wrong thing by workers in the past and knows how important it is to get all the information.
“The union helps across the board – with shift allowances, negotiating pay rises and conditions. The new AHP Agreement made some headway in terms of parity with the mainland, but we’re still very much behind here in Tasmania.”
“Retention and recruitment are big issues for this busy service Tasmanians rely on. Tasmania pays well below what the mainland pays. We find many people start in our state to ‘cut their teeth’ so to speak, before leaving to work interstate.”
CPSU Organiser Gabby Robertson on Pathology: “Recruiting is a big issue here. The cost of living is no longer a drawcard for people to come here. It’s a growing hospital, with beds increasing, so there’s a big need to have enough staff to deliver pathology services. There’s a shortage of specialists nationally – so we really need some recruitment and retention incentives.”
Is your workplace experiencing a recruitment and retention crisis?
Tell us what you’d like to see to fix it in the next State Budget, as we’re formulating our CPSU Budget Submission: send your submission to email@example.com.