Talking about mental illness: this is going to hurt

I want to begin with a disclaimer: I will discuss my experience with mental illness and mental health struggles, and this is very personal and subjective. It was how I felt along this difficult pathway, but I am entitled to express my voice as you are to express yours. Yes, this is going to hurt, as it may sound that nowadays we live in an open-minded society, but we still face stigma and prejudice around mental illness: We still can’t discuss it openly, as people tend to dissociate themselves from those who are hurting psychologically. Also, just because I am writing about my experience does not mean I have my life in order. I can’t pretend to know everything about mental illness and neurodevelopmental conditions, but I am trying to understand more and hopefully I will become more literate in the process.

Since I can remember I always felt slightly anxious and was considered very shy for my age, as I lack social communication and interpersonal skills. I managed to do reasonably well in school, except for my abilities with numerical thinking, and making friends, however I had a special interest for science and scientific facts. Now I know how I passed under the radar: I was able to imitate other girls and what was “socially accepted behaviours” for my age, only raising my voice when I saw the poor and unfair ways that boys treated girls during my pre-adolescence years.

Continue reading “Talking about mental illness: this is going to hurt”

Managing Chronic Illness in Healthcare Science

About Me

Hello, my name is Hannah! I am a first year STP student on the Genomic Counselling programme, but I have almost ten years of experience in healthcare science. This includes over seven years of NHS service, predominantly as a Biomedical Scientist in Immunology.

I am a passionate advocate for mental health and practice as a Mental Health First Aider, combined with being a former Samaritans Call Volunteer and student of counselling qualifications. Whilst I gained invaluable scientific skills as an NHS Scientist, the role didn’t satisfy my desire to interact with and support patients more directly. I was familiar with the STP due to training Biochemistry students on their immunology rotations, and after much soul searching, I decided to commence my own STP journey. I felt that Genomic Counselling could bridge my interest in counselling skills with my scientific background and I was determined to gain the care experience required for my application. I managed to train as a Hospice Care Volunteer and offer emotional support as a Samaritan, alongside my Biomedical Science NHS service work.

Continue reading “Managing Chronic Illness in Healthcare Science”

What is Radiotherapy Physics?

Radiotherapy Physics encompasses a large variety of things, many of which may go unnoticed when a patient has their treatment. So, maybe it’s best to start with a smaller scope: What is Radiotherapy? Radiotherapy is the use of radiation to kill cancer cells or shrink the tumour.  This effect is achieved by delivering radiation which damages the cancer by causing breaks along the strands of the DNA. This is effective as cells have their own tools to repair the damage, however, in cancer cells these tend to be faulty. In fact, this is one of the reasons why treatments are spread out, to allow the healthy cells to recover somewhat before the next treatment. It is important that cells are allowed to recover between treatments otherwise the treatment may be counterproductive and harm the patient more than benefitting them.

A visual representation of DNA being broken down by radiation1.

Continue reading “What is Radiotherapy Physics?”

The Six Month Survival Guide

Hi, my names Estelle, and I’m a new co-editor here at STP perspectives. I’m currently in my first year of the Clinical Microbiology STP. My studies and work experience have all been in Microbiology and Medical Microbiology.

This blog is about how I’ve survived the first six months of the STP. It will cover:

  • What sort of challenges you might face
  • How to utilise your cohort/ colleagues to assist you
  • Some reminders to take it easy!
Continue reading “The Six Month Survival Guide”

Finding your feet in first year!

My name is Leanne and I am a first year biochemistry STP at Wolverhampton – something I am still getting used to saying! When I applied for the STP not one part of me thought I was going to be successful as I was fresh out of university. I decided to apply anyway for the experience, in the hopes I could eventually get onto it. Much to my surprise I was offered a place (very last minute, but that is a story for another time). From the very beginning I heard lots of mention of ‘imposter syndrome’ and I am definitely still feeling this at nearly 5 months in.
For me not only is this a new job, but also a completely new city. I don’t think I had even set foot in the West Midlands, until I came to have a look at the lab once I had been offered the position. It has been a major change for me and something I am still adjusting to. It is natural to miss home and you will have good and bad days. However, I feel extremely lucky in that I have an amazing training officer who made me feel super settled immediately.

Continue reading “Finding your feet in first year!”

How I failed the STP IACC & then passed

This is a blog post about how I failed my first attempt at the IACC exit assessment in the summer of 2022. It’ll cover:

  • What went wrong
  • How you can potentially avoid this
  • How to prepare for a resit

Most of the advice in this blog I received from meeting with senior scientists, others who had failed and my wider support network. This post is a thank you to those people and I hope sharing the advice they gave me is useful to you. I also want this blog to show you that failing is something that is a normal and natural part of life, which has happened to everyone you know and will happen to you too, perhaps even at the most pivotal part of your career to date.

Adriana’s blog post on the IACC has many brilliant tips and I’d recommend reading it alongside this one as I’ve skipped some of points to avoid duplication. This blog post was correct for the STP IACC 2022.  The IACC is going to change over the coming years, please check the NSHCS website for the latest guidance on the STP exit assessment relevant to your cohort.

Continue reading “How I failed the STP IACC & then passed”