Updated: May 24
I had an interesting conversation with a colleague of mine a few weeks ago that quite honestly hasn't sat well with me. Speaking from her own experience, she expressed that for those looking to go into lab work, individuals who have a B.Tech and register as medical technologists are more successful in finding jobs than those with a BSc trying to become medical scientists, and therefore it's not really worth doing a BSc.
In her opinion, there aren't enough posts for medical scientists and what ends up happening is that BSc students are forced to either continue with postgrad studies, change careers or accept jobs as lab assistants because they don't have the same type of lab experience that medical technologists have.
Unlike a B.Tech where students spend sufficient time gaining practical experience to prepare them for the work industry, a BSc in any of the biological or medical sciences is geared more towards theory, and students don't get as much practical experience as they would if they were studying B.Tech.
Although the level of practical experience is different, I think it's important to realise that people chose their respective qualifications based on what it is they actually like doing. Just because I have done a BSc does not mean I only want to do lab work. If anything, I actually don't really enjoy doing lab work- it's too repetitive for me. But others go into it knowing that it's a stepping stone to whatever career they want to build for themselves.
I think it's also important to recognise the differences in the scopes for being a medical technologist vs a medical scientist. These are positions that are equally important for the running of the healthcare system in our country but the responsibilities are vastly different.
According to section 33 of the Health Professions Act, 1974 (Act No. 56 of 1974) part of being a med tech includes but is not limited to:
" all acts performed during the analysis of human tissue, body fluid or excretion, where such analysis is carried out to enable a medical practitioner or dentist to make a diagnosis or institute medical or dental treatment from the results of such analysis, shall for the purposes of the Act be deemed to the act pertaining to the profession of medical technology."
whereas medical scientists are more involved in the
"the development; the evaluation; and the practice of scientific procedures which involve humans, human biological material or medical equipment subject thereto that such acts will lead to or impact on treatment, diagnosis and genetic counselling of humans and, where appropriate, interpretation, quality management, patient genetic counselling and consultation with other registered and appropriately qualified health practitioners"
Bearing this in mind, students will obviously be taught different things to prepare them for the types of careers they see themselves in. So you can't make a comparison as to which is better than the other, or which is actually worth it, because they are fundamentally so different.
I think what's been bothering me the most is the notion that we need to choose our qualifications based on what jobs are available. I understand that unemployment really is a huge issue in our county, especially in the global climate we find ourselves in. But I honestly believe that people should work towards their passions as this will result in more proficient professionals with job satisfaction at the end of the day.
It's scary. It is so scary to think that what you have studied will leave you sitting at home struggling to find a job. But with anything else in life, it's a risk you take to do what you love in life. Job security is an important factor that should always be considered, but it shouldn't be the sole determining factor.
I'm aware that maybe I'm not the right person to be commenting on this, especially because I've never experienced what it's like to struggle to find employment, so maybe my words are coming from a place of naivety but it's what I truly feel.