The end of a journey…


…But the start of a new one!

Hello everyone! Earlier this week was the STP induction day in Birmingham for all the new trainees. So I thought, as so many people are starting their scientist training journey, what better time to share a look back from someone who is coming to the end of theirs. I asked Verity Fryer, a third year clinical bioinformatics trainee (and now also a fully employed Healthcare Scientist!) in my department some questions about her past 3 years and this is what she had to say:

How do you feel coming to the end of the STP?

Relieved, happy and proud of what I’ve achieved. I can’t quite believe I’ve done it and it’s finished (I submitted and had approved my last competency this morning!).

Was the STP what you expected it to be?

I didn’t have many expectations going in. The role sounded really exciting and fulfilling, but when I applied I never imagined I’d even get past the application process the first time, never mind landing a position! So I then didn’t have much time to think about what to expect before I started as I was working full-time. I just trusted in the programme and that if and when I passed everything, I would be a trained Clinical Scientist, which was my ultimate goal. I think being open-minded and not having specific expectations helped as it meant I embraced every opportunity available and I’ve had a well-rounded training experience. I feel lucky to have been placed in such a fantastic department, everyone has been very supportive throughout.

What was your experience before the STP? And do you think it prepared you for the training?

I worked in forensics as a DNA Analyst and DNA analysis pipeline developer, then in an office-based role at a pharmaceutical database company before starting the STP, so I think I had a lot of ‘soft skills’ that really helped during the STP. It has been a while since I studied though, which I found a struggle to get back into.

If anything – what would you have done differently?

I would have done a smaller MSc project on a service improvement rather than the classic research question I did (I thought that would be a smaller project– I was wrong!).

What is one bit advice you would give to new trainees starting in September?

Be organised and look ahead. Take a notepad with you everywhere and use the calendar in your account to set yourself reminders for deadlines and book assessments well ahead of time. It benefits you and your colleagues/assessors/lecturers.

What’s your top tip for getting the most out of our training?

Take every opportunity that comes your way, even if you can’t see the relevance now.

Do you feel prepared to take the next steps in your career as a healthcare scientist?

Yes – although I didn’t always feel like that. So my other top tip would be to remember that the STP trains you to be at the level of a newly-trained scientist, not the same expertise and experience level of the Scientists around you, so don’t compare yourself to them.

What questions did you have in the OSFAs? (just kidding!)

…my lips are sealed! But the main thing is not to panic. And if there are OSFA workshops run by your local trainee network, go, even if you’re in your first year.

How did you go about planning your elective?

I thought about the future direction of the field within the UK and what areas would be useful to have some exposure to.

How did you decide on your research project?

I wanted a really clear question to answer, so that I would find it easier to write up as I’d not written anything like that in a few years, so I picked a research area in which lots of research has already been done, but tested new tools using similar techniques previously used.

What has been the hardest thing over the past 3 years?

Accepting that I can’t learn everything in as much detail as I would like to, but that is OK as you’re in training and you’ll continue to learn for the rest of your career anyway.

What has been your best moment in the past 3 years?

There’s actually several during the last few months, but finding out I’d passed my OSFAs is at the top of the list. That was when I felt like the hard work (and a few tears) had paid off. There were a lot of celebrations then – and there will be some more this evening!

So there you have it folks, the highs, the lows, the good, the bad and the ugly. Many thanks to Verity for taking time out of her very hectic last 2 weeks of the STP to answer my questions. I hope you all found that as insightful as I did, I know i’ll definitely be taking away some advice!

Author: Jes

I am a trainee clinical bioinformatician working at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. I am passionate about increasing awareness and discussion about healthcare science and particularly the routes into the field.

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