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Isabel joins TUH at a testing time

Published:  25 January 2022

Finishing university in late 2021, Isabel Jackson’s short career has seen her take on a pivotal role in the pathology laboratory at Townsville University Hospital (TUH) analysing COVID-19 PCR tests.

The lab has been experienced extreme demand as it manages thousands of COVID-19 swabs for the community, with more than 8,000 samples analysed over a seven-day period.

“From the beginning of my degree I knew I wanted to work in the pathology laboratory at TUH, it is highly regarded as one of the best labs in Queensland,” Isabel said.

“When I saw a position come up, I applied straight away not expecting to be successful but really wanting the opportunity to work here and the potential for feedback on an interview as I neared the end of university.

“I’m extremely grateful that I’ve had the chance to work in this lab during this time; it has been so intense, I have learnt so much, and I have loved every second of it.”

Isabel said the laboratory at TUH covered a massive part of North Queensland, from Townsville to Bowen, Ingham and west to Mount Isa.

“Every single swab from those areas comes to our lab where we check the details on the sample to make sure the results are going to the right people before running it through our machines for analysis,” she said.

“We have two machines to run the COVID-19 swabs and they can analyse up to 1,300 samples on a perfect day.

“This is in addition to our business as usual which includes other viral testing and sexual health testing.”

Isabel said she has had a fantastic experience as part of the pathology team.

“Every person in the lab has been incredible to work with and our manager Fleur is absolutely the glue that holds us all together,” she said.

“Fleur is an amazing boss and without her and the team we have, I don’t think we could achieve the high through-put testing we currently deliver.

“I’d really urge anyone thinking of a career in medical science or a placement with the Townsville Hospital and Health Service (HHS) to apply and give it a go.

“Medicine and science are always evolving and adapting so there is always something to learn.”

Isabel said she wanted to pass her thanks on to the community for being patient while the team worked as fast as it could to provide test results.

“This is such a difficult time for everyone, and we know that people are anxiously awaiting their test results to come back,” she said.

“I want to let everyone know we are working as fast as we can to get these back to the community and the whole HHS is pitching in to support the COVID-19 effort.

“It has been so amazing the way staff have pivoted into new roles and have taken on learning new things to support the region.”

Isabel has now taken the next step in her career beginning with the Queensland Pathology graduate program.

“Over the remainder of the year I’ll be trained in biochemistry, haematology, transfusion, and microbiology before beginning my placements in rural communities through the Townsville HHS,” she said.

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