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Applied to NHS STP straight from undergraduate degree

About me

Charlotte H.
Biology
Biochemistry
BSc
James
2015
United Kingdom

About this profile

Clinical Scientist (Biochemistry)
Royal Liverpool University Hospital
United Kingdom
Healthcare
Large business (250+ employees)
2015
£26,000
£33,000

About the job

What I 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.

Skills I use and how I developed them

I gained a lot of the lab skills necessary for my job whilst at university, I have developed these further in an NHS setting, learning how to operate automated analysers and more manual techniques such as liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry for specialist tests.
I have gained a lot of management experience in my role, being responsible for quality assurance schemes and method development projects in the lab.

What I like most

The best thing about the job is having a role in patient care. Although my job is not always patient-facing, interpreting abnormal test results and suggesting further investigations that could help diagnose and manage certain conditions has a big impact on patients.

What I like least

Studying for my MSc alongside working full time and completing my training portfolio was sometimes challenging and you definitely have to be good at managing your time but it was all worth it when I got my registration at the end!

What surprised me most

When I first started, I was given quite a lot of responsibility which I wasn't expecting, but it's definitely the best way to learn!

Finding and applying for the job

How I looked for work

Training to be a clinical scientist in the NHS is via the Scientist Training Programme (STP)

http://www.nshcs.hee.nhs.uk/join-programme/nhs-scientist-training-programme

I applied for a place on the STP in January of my final year at York, the recruitment process is quite challenging but fairly similar to the process for other graduate roles. Many applicants to the STP have additional experience and/or an MSc/PhD but don't let that put you off from applying straight after your undergraduate degree.

How I found out about the job

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The recruitment process

The recruitment process takes several months and involves the following:
Numerical/Logical reasoning tests - applicants long-listed at this stage
Online written application - applicants short-listed (submitted before tests)
Interview - applicants are ranked based on performance (approx. 3 applicants interviewed per place)
Offers - job offers made in order of interview rank, post location allocated in order of rank and preference (e.g. highest ranking candidate will get first choice location)

My career

My career goals when I graduated

Before I graduated, I always knew I wanted 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

My career history

Short and sweet!
I graduated from York in July 2015 and started the STP in September the same year, having been offered the job in April 2015. I completed the STP in September 2018 and started my role as a Senior Clinical Scientist in the same lab I trained in.

What has helped my career to progress

The STP is very much self-directed so I would say taking every opportunity available has helped me in my career so far - gaining as much experience as possible while I'm training will help me when I come to apply for more senior roles.

Courses taken since graduation

The STP has an integrated MSc in Clinical Science (Blood Sciences)

How my studies have helped my career

My undergraduate degree at York has given me a good foundation in Biochemistry which I can now apply to whole organ systems when interpreting the mechanisms behind biochemical abnormalities.

Where I hope to be in 5 years

After the completion of the STP, I hope to gain a post as a senior clinical scientist and be working towards completion of my Royal College of Pathology exams (more exams!)

My advice to students

My advice to students considering work

Don't underestimate what counts as 'experience'. You don't need to spend a year in a research lab to understand what goes on. 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!

My advice about working in my industry

Healthcare Science is a really broad field - the STP encompasses 26 different specialisms covering physical sciences, blood sciences and life sciences. As well as lab-based roles there are roles in bioinformatics and genomics for people interested in working with computer programmes and more patient-facing roles such as respiratory science and audiology. If you're interested and committed to putting in the effort - you're perfect!


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