Lessons learnt from a year of STP Perspectives


It has been a year since this tweet, a year since my little idea with Jes became a reality and we shared STP Perspectives with the world. And what a year this has been. Looking back on it, starting this blog was definitely the right thing to do and here’s why.

I can do it.

The first year of the STP felt like having imposter syndrome. Why did I get into what everyone said was a very competitive programme? That combined with my tendency to overthink everything stressed me out even more and made me feel that I was going to fail. Starting this blog with Jes has definitely helped me with my confidence and my sense of belonging. I can now proudly say that I am a Healthcare Scientist, belonging and contributing to the greater community of healthcare science. Before starting the STP I never thought I would have the guts to approach high-rank people at a conference to ask them questions and that they would agree to chat with me. Or I also never thought that I would speak in front of hundreds of people at a national meeting. Don’t get me wrong, I still stress about things but there’s something in me that has slightly changed. That might be because of the support network that the programme and this blog have created or maybe just the pep-talks Jes and I give to each other.

Lay writing is not that bad.

With English being my second language, I was always a little bit shy about my writing. I always think it is not good, not catchy, people wouldn’t want to read it. (Have I told you I overthink everything?). Being the co-editor with Jes though has dramatically changed that. I am not saying that I have now become a successful novelist but I can whip up 1000 words in an hour and it wouldn’t be that bad. I do believe that my lay writing has improved, both by actually writing and getting feedback from Jes, but also reading everyone else’s posts and offering them feedback (+ the magic tool that is called Grammarly). So if you are shy about your writing skills as I am, maybe starting to write will help you. We are always looking for more people so please don’t hesitate to contact us, we would be happy to read over your posts and share them with the world. I believe that the STP Perspectives community is all about inclusivity and learning from each other so no one will judge and everyone is here to help.

Helping feels good.

I think  I talk for the majority of us working in the NHS, that there is something about helping others that really keeps us going. The patient comes first is what we normally say.  But through the blog, I think we have managed to put a different NHS core value in action. Working together for patients, we have created a small community of scientists that want to improve their profession by helping each other with the ultimate goal of improving patient lives. This makes me feel like I have succeeded at something, and maybe I can sleep a little better at night.

Yay! It’s our Birthday, how exciting. As an extra special treat for you guys, Adriana and I are doing a collaborative post (as Adriana eloquently explained above- that’s what we’re all about). So, it’s Jes here now, and here are some of the things I’ve learned from STP perspectives over the last year:

Seeing HCS as one discipline.

Through STP perspectives I’ve been able to expand my horizons, both within my field of bioinformatics, but also my knowledge of other areas of healthcare science. As we have somehow managed to build up this amazing following, I feel like there is a duty to ensure that the things we post are accurate and up-to-date, which means that I make sure I’ve researched and corroborated the things I’m writing. The fake-news bandwagon is not one that I have any interest in jumping on! This has helped me learn bits about my own field that I might never have explored otherwise, and also helped me with my fact-checking skills. We’ve also collaborated and had contributions from scientists and trainees in other areas which lead to conversations that I know would never have happened without STP perspectives. I think there’s an insane amount of overlap between different healthcare science specialisms and one thing I’ve definitely become quite passionate about is the idea of different scientists talking to each other and learning from each other because I think what we can achieve together could be pretty special.

The joy of networking.

For anyone who knows me, the fact that I’ve just put “joy” and “networking” in a sentence together and that sentence isn’t “networking brings me no joy” is probably pretty surprising. I’m a social person, I love meeting new people- but for some reason when you take that and put it in a professional capacity it becomes terrifying. But through STP perspectives I’ve forced myself to talk to people and have conversations that I probably wouldn’t have done. However, I must admit that most of what I consider my successful networking has been through twitter and emails, and it’s been really nice to have those conversations with people and make those connections. Some of these connections have led to face-to-face conversations, and some of them haven’t- and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. As long as the conversation is being started.

It’s easy to help each other.

One of the main reasons Adriana and I started STP perspectives was to talk about our journey through the scientist training program and basically to just share what it is with the rest of the world who have never heard of it before. In January we decided to start sharing tips for getting onto the STP and we’ve branched out to sharing advice from our limited experience on topical things like interviews, OSFAs and conferences. It’s always nice when people reach out to us through Twitter, email or comments and let us know how much something we’ve written or shared has helped them. Whether a tip we gave helped a prospective trainee feel more confident for their interview or a current trainee was reassured to know that other trainees are struggling with the same things as them- this, for me, has become the most rewarding part of running this blog. It really doesn’t take a lot to help people; a lot of what we write is just reflection- which we have to do anyway as part of our training- and if sharing it on this platform helps just one person out, why would we not?

We would like to take this opportunity and thank all those who have contributed to our blog. Without you, this blog wouldn’t be the same!

Haroon Chughtai, Nana Mensah, Joe Mahon, Frankie Macrae, Bea Deere, Annie Mellings, Jethro Rainford, Liam Stubbington, Jon Bruty, Emily Plimmer, Alice Royle, Daniel Sutcliffe, Sarah Green, Sarah Williams, Gwen Cowley, Jess Bateson, Ben Warner-Michel, Dan Lock, Michal Pruski, Rebecca Johnson, Rebecca Cope, Verity Woodhall, Ang Davies, Rachel van Heugten, Harriet Copeland, Isobel Turbin

Thanks a Bunch! (1)

Thank you for reading this. Both Jes and I are thrilled for how our blog has turned out and we are hoping to keep it going and keep helping people for years to come. We understand that we are only STPs for another year, so if anyone wants to get involved in a more regular basis please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would love to have you.

Again thank you to all our contributors and all our readers.  Let us know if you have any suggestions for things you want to see in the coming months.

Author: Adriana

I am a Clinical Bioinformatician based at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge and a Regional Training Lead for Health Education England. I am all for increasing genomics awareness in and out of healthcare and interested in bioinformatics and genomics and general healthcare science.

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