Patricia Brincat
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Patricia Brincat

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What is your name and what is your
official designation within the 
Ministry for Health?
My name is Patricia Brincat and I am a Senior Allied Health Practitioner (Medical Laboratory Scientist).
 
Where do you work and what do your duties entail?
I work in a Medical Laboratory at the Pathology Department, Mater Dei Hospital, and I am mainly responsible for the Flow Cytometry Laboratory which specializes in diagnosis and monitoring of Leukemia and Lymphoma patients.

How long have you been working with the Public Service?
I have been working in the Public Service as a Medical Laboratory Scientist for 22 years.​
 
Are there any specific qualifications required for your post?
In order to work as a Medical laboratory Scientist, a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Biomedical Science (BSc ABS) is the basic entry requirement. However Scientists are encouraged to further their studies, in fact many among us pursued with a Master Degree.
 
What attracted you to take up your profession and to the health service?
I have always wanted a Healthcare related profession, as science has always been my passion and close to heart. However, I have been apprehensive about the idea of having direct patient contact. Therefore, I chose a career which, whilst providing critical results to the patients, allowing for specific diagnosis and treatment, at the same time it has very minimal patient contact.
 
What motivates you most?
I am motivated by how innovation improves quality of life of the patient. Our profession is constantly evolving, and I am always on the lookout on how to improve our diagnostic services. Discussions with foreign institutions on emerging technologies and approaches are extremely important and I always strive and ensure that contacts with foreign institutions and experts in the field are made and maintained. Such connections empower us with knowledge and expertise. Seeing my team keen to learn and uptake new opportunities and innovate is a key motivator.
 
What about the teamwork between different professions/roles involved in relation to patient care?
Patient care is the focus of our profession. In the field of Haemato-Oncology, a multidisciplinary approach is essential to obtain a complete and specific diagnosis. This entails meetings to discuss our laboratory findings, both between us Medical laboratory Scientists and also with clinical teams in other professions. Correlating our results with the clinical picture in order to shed light on the best treatment approaches is the hallmark of a holistic patient care. In fact I ensure that such multidisciplinary meetings are organized on a regular basis.
 
Can you give us one challenge and one success story?
A challenge which I experienced in my career, and eventually turned out to be one successful story, is when in 2005 we wanted to introduce the system that is required to diagnose patients with Leukemias and Lymphomas. Up to that time, patients’ samples presenting with these tumors had to be sent abroad for ​analysis, leading to delay in diagnosis and treatment. So in 2005 I travelled to the UK for a work experience within the Flow Cytometry Laboratory Core Facility at the Royal Marsden Hospital (RMH). This was a challenging experience as the system was completely new to me and I had to learn all the concepts and techniques during my stay at the RMH.

Once this experience was complete, I returned to Malta to set up the system locally. Although this proved challenging, within few months the system was up and running with local patients benefitting from the system’s output by having a rapid, same day diagnosis with immediate treatment initiation. Thereafter we have advanced considerably and currently have a standardized approach which is compatible with Haemato-Oncology centers around Europe. So I would say it turned out to be one successful story.
  
What advice would you give to young students considering taking up this profession?
Medical Laboratory Science is an extremely interesting and evolving profession. As a profession we are involved in both diagnosis and also the monitoring of the treatment pathways of the patients. Therefore, as Medical Laboratory Scientists, we contribute to the overall patient care. Additionally, the way treatment approaches are approaches are developing into patient centered ones, the role of the Medical Laboratory Scientist is becoming increasing interesting and exciting.
 
What are the benefits of working with the public service?
The Health Services in Malta are mostly centralized, this allows for specializations in specific scientific areas, such as that of Haemato-Oncology diagnostics and monitoring. Working in the public sector provides the satisfaction that my work is directly reaching the patients who are most in need. My satisfaction is that these patients are benefiting from an excellent service through hard work and dedication.