|Senior Clinical Scientist NHS (Biochemistry)|
|Liverpool University Hospitals FT|
|Large business (250+ employees)|
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A day in the life of a Senior Clinical Scientist NHS (Biochemistry) in the United Kingdom
I liked the idea of a training programme that included further study as it would open up more opportunities for my career later on.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
The NHS needs no introduction! The Trust I work for includes 4 hospitals and serves a population of around 630,000 people across Merseyside as well as providing a range of highly specialist services to more than two million people in the North West region and beyond. Our laboratories have over 600 highly medical consultants, scientists and laboratory assistants, and we analyse over 5 million clinical samples a year.
What do you do?
The role of a Clinical Biochemist is to help diagnose and manage disease through the analysis of blood, urine and other body fluids. This involves producing and validating the results of chemical and biochemical analyses.
I advise clinicians and GPs on the appropriate use of tests, the interpretation of results, and the follow up investigations that may be required. Our role is constantly changing to adapt to the needs of patients and the NHS as a whole, I am currently involved in setting up a new multi-drug assay for our Trust and have recently started seeing patients in clinic to help our medical colleagues investigate difficult to diagnose conditions.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
Before I graduated, I knew I wanted to continue to work in science, at first I wasn't sure if I wanted to work in industry, academia or healthcare but I had an interest in medicine and so I started to look for careers in a hospital setting. I liked the idea of a training programme that included further study as it would open up more opportunities for my career later on.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
I was lucky enough to have secured a place on the NHS Scientist Training Programme in my final year at York, so I graduated from York in July 2015 and started the STP in September the same year. I have since completed the STP in September 2018 and started my role as a Senior Clinical Scientist in the same lab I trained in. More recently, I was successful in applying for an in-service Higher Specialist Scientist Training post and started this 5 year training programme in September 2021.
Describe your most memorable day at work
My most memorable days at work have been those involving direct contact with patients. It is sometimes easy to forget about the end user when you're tucked away in a lab in a separate building next to a hospital - meeting patients that we have discussed with our medical colleagues and witnessing the impact that our work has on their health journey always reminds me why I wanted to do this job.
Are there any challenges associated with your job?
Studying for my MSc, and now my DClinSci, alongside working full time and completing my training portfolio is sometimes challenging and you definitely have to be good at managing your time. Due to the nature of the work, the NHS can be a high stress environment, particularly in a clinical lab where we are often trying to produce test results in the shortest time possible to enable patient diagnosis and prompt treatment.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
Contact hours for Science degrees can be quite intense, so I have to admit I didn't do a huge amount of extracurricular activities. If you are able to, any internships or volunteering related to the field you are looking to apply to will give you lots of experience and lots to talk about in applications and interviews.
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
Don't underestimate what counts as 'experience'. You don't need to spend a year in a research lab or other relevant role to understand how things work. Speak to someone in your desired profession, email them (multiple times!), ask if you can visit their place of work, go to careers days, use Linked In and other social media to find people who could help you get where you want to be. When I was in 3rd year, I met a previous student at a York Careers event who was doing what I do now - she showed me round her lab 2 days before my interview (a bit last minute!) but it really helped me when I was asked what I knew about the job!
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