A Career to ‘Bank On’
-Written by Madhav Bansal, Third Minor MBBS, Institute of Medical Sciences & Sum Hospital, Orissa
The medical specialty known as transfusion medicine deals with all facets of transfusing blood and blood components. Blood donation, immunohematology, other laboratory diagnostics for disease transmitted through transfusions, management and oversight of clinical transfusion procedures, patient blood management, therapeutic apheresis, stem cell collections, cellular therapy and coagulation are all included, the bracket is huge.
Formerly a subspecialty of clinical pathology, transfusion medicine has evolved into a clinical, hospital-based discipline that focuses on the safe administration of blood or blood components for the treatment of disease.
The Royal Society of London performed the first canine transfusion in 1665, kicking off the grand ‘adventure’ of transfusion medicine. The first animal to human transfusion was performed in 1667, and human to human in 1818. Kal Landsteiner’s invention of the ABO blood type system in the 1900s was a true game changer. Landsteiner was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930 for his innovative discovery.
Over the past century, the science of blood transfusion has advanced significantly. Through the century, progress was made toward safer blood transfer. The goal of this “quest” was to achieve zero-risk transfusion. The first focus was on learning more about the various components of red cell antigen structures. Major blood group antigens were consequently identified in the first half of the 20th century. Red cell serology created a doorway to the emerging field of immunohematology. Other cellular components were eventually included in the research area.
The area of transfusion medicine developed to play a vital role in providing an adequate use of such a limited medicinal asset such as human blood as a fortuitous byproduct of these succinctly outlined accomplishments in blood banking. Improvements in blood use, safety, and healing capacity prompted the need for better-prepared field specialists, who later developed a wealth of information translated into practical therapies directed at the individual patient with hematological and non-hematological disorders.
Transfusion medicine is the ideal course if the candidate has a genuine interest in learning about the elements of blood and how they affect human illnesses.
The main motive of Transfusion Medicine is to create well-trained specialists who are experts in blood components. Transfusion Medicine is currently becoming a specialty that is not just restricted to blood banks but has now reached the patient’s bedside.
To enter the Post-Graduate Degree course, either an MD in Transfusion Medicine or a National Board of Examinations (NBE) regulated DNB in Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion, the candidates should have passed an M.B.B.S. degree besides having secured an entry via the national level entrance examination (NEET-PG).
Transfusion Medicine Employment Areas include Medical Colleges & Healthcare Universities, Govt. Healthcare Services, Military Services, Private Clinics, Government Bodies like NACO with various roles like Specialists & In charge of Programmes.
The Course Curriculum includes domains like- Immunology and Immunogenetics, Blood Collection/Blood Center/Component Processing, Transfusion transmitted infection serology, Clinical Transfusion Services.
To function successfully in an organisation, all vocations require certain skill sets. Having the competencies allows the candidate to perform better at work and exhibit his or her abilities.
According to NMC a transfusion medicine post-graduate must-
(a) monitor transfusion practices of fellow clinicians and advise them on the management of patients needing sophisticated transfusion services
(b) be well versed with Regulatory requirements
(c) be competent to establish transfusion services commensurate with international standards
(d) be equipped to manage an adequate and safe blood supply and
(e) interact closely with clinicians in the hospital to ensure optimal and appropriate use of blood and blood components as well as availability of transfusion alternatives.
The discipline of Transfusion Medicine includes responsibility for
• the diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of immunohematology, apheresis, histocompatibility, and related molecular biology and biotechnology
• management of the medical laboratory and blood centre, including quality, safety and regulatory aspects
• ensuring the appropriate use of blood;
• ensuring the adequacy of supply for the blood system
• supervising the provision of a safe and effective blood supply
• supervising the banking and provision of cell therapy products and human tissues for transplantation purposes
• engaging policy-makers, other physicians, and other health professionals in transfusion medicine
• the advancement of the discipline through basic scientific and clinically applied research.
Brenda C. Barnes, blood bank supervisor at the Great Plains Regional Medical Centre in North Platte, Nebraska, USA, claims that there are a variety of gratifying career paths available in transfusion medicine. The blood bank is often a good fit for individuals who like working in carefully regulated workplaces. Blood bank professionals are frequently described as “perfectionists,” and they are skilled at multitasking and handling pressure. “I find that there is nothing quite as rewarding as solving a multiple antibody problem and providing a patient with compatible blood”