International Women’s Day 2022

Tuesday 8th March 2022

International Women’s Day (IWD) evolved from the universal suffrage movement that originated in New Zealand, and was the catalyst for movements in North America and Europe in the early 20th century. It is recognized throughout the world in a diverse range of ways, however became ‘official’ in 1975 when the United Nations began celebrating it. To commemorate IWD in 2022 we are shining a light on some current and past STP trainees. We asked them a range of questions to find out what inspired them to pursue a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

Alice, 2nd year Respiratory and Sleep Science Trainee (Instagram @adhd_alice):

Why did you pursue a career in science?

I’ve always had an interest in human physiology and how the body works so I knew I wanted to go into the physiological sciences. I was also keen to go into a role that involved a lot of patient interaction and allowed me to really engage with the patients I was seeing. When we perform lung function tests with our patients, it is important that we get maximal effort from the patient. Therefore a key part of being a respiratory physiologist is being able to build a rapport with the patient and work with them, providing appropriate instructions and encouragement to ensure you get the best results from them.

Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I love getting to interact with so many different patients and talking to them. Our appointments usually last around 45 minutes but you can feel like you really get to know a person in that time and many of them have very interesting stories to tell.

Although it is obviously my job, for me nothing beats having a patient tell you that you’ve put them at ease and made them feel less anxious. That makes me feel like I’m doing a good job and achieving what I set out to do. Hospitals can be a scary place and knowing that I’ve made it a little easier for them makes my job worthwhile.

Anushiya – 1st year Cancer Genomics Trainee (Instagram @nushology):

Why did you pursue a career in science?

Cancer genomics is rapidly transforming the way scientists understand cancer and is helping us understand precision medicine much better than before. Seeing these developments and newly emerging targeted therapies, it was clear to me to pursue a role as a trainee clinical scientist in cancer genomics. The STP programme has allowed me to work in integrated settings alongside other disciplines like flow cytometry and haematology to aid patients’ diagnoses and has introduced me to various exciting techniques!

Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?

At the moment I’m enjoying working across molecular haematology and cytogenetics and completing rotations in other neighbouring departments! The teams are all super friendly and have supported me so much in getting my competencies signed off!

Alix – 3rd year Histopathology Trainee (Instagram @happyhistologist):

What attracted you to your scientific specialism?

I chose to specialise in histopathology because I enjoyed working in histology as a Biomedical Scientist and I wanted to develop more specialist skills in the discipline through the STP. Histology is a really hands on discipline and it is also very visual – we have to have good pattern recognition skills when dissecting tissue samples or when looking at tissue samples under the microscope which is something that I really enjoy! I also like the fact that our work contributes significantly to cancer diagnosis and treatment; an area of medicine that I feel really passionate about!

What is your best achievement so far?

For me, the best thing about doing the STP is that you’re a supernumerary member of staff so you have the time to seek learning opportunities outside of your department. In histology, we receive tissue samples from theatres and clinics but we don’t ever get to see the patient or how the samples are obtained. During my time on the STP, I have organised visits to clinics/theatres so that I can get a better understanding of where our samples actually come from. I’ve been able to gain an insight into the entire patient pathway which has been really valuable!

Jess – Genomic Counselling Graduate, 2021 (TWITTER @JESShbateson, Linkedin jess bateson):

What is your proudest achievement so far?

My proudest achievement so far is completing my training as a Genetic Counsellor. Within this role, I helped many individuals understand their family history, and what this meant for them. I was drawn to genetics in college; it fascinated me that we are all unique by a code that is 99.9% the same. My avid interest in people proved nicely complimentary to this role. I have had varied jobs in science ranging from cancer research in a lab to tweeting genetics for a charity to increase awareness. At each stage I could have talked myself out of being ‘a good fit’ or able to rise to each challenge. I encourage all women drawn to science to be led by their interests and believe you can accomplish your dream career, stage by stage.

Lucy – 1st year Audiology Trainee (Instagram @lucyaudiologystp):

What inspired you to work in science?

I always knew that I wanted to work within healthcare. I have a passion for helping others, and a love for science. Nursing and midwifery were not for me as I cannot deal with the sight of blood (honestly, I faint over a blood test). My brother is completely deaf in one ear, and from a young age I remember attending audiology appointments with him. I saw the work that the audiologists did, inspiring me to become an audiologist. The best thing about my role is the ability to make a genuine difference to a patient’s quality of life, helping them to not only hear but also communicate.

Katy – 1st year Clinical Biochemistry Trainee (@stpwithkaty):

What inspired you to work in your specialism?

What attracted me to clinical biochemistry is the huge variety of tests involved in this discipline and the range of organ systems analysed to diagnose, monitor, treat, and screen for, disease. I really enjoy interpreting laboratory results in conjunction with the patient’s clinical features; this is a skill I am excited to develop in order to contribute to patient pathways. I have such a hunger to expand my biochemistry knowledge and develop my techniques. My goal is to become a clinical scientist in the incredible workforce that is the NHS, and to have a large positive impact on patient care.

Erin – 3rd year Bioinformatics (Genomics) Trainee:

What attracted you to your specialism?

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that a single base change in a person’s DNA can lead them to have a genetic condition, but also that two people with the same single base change might present with varying severities of that genetic condition. I’ve also spent a lot of time working in oncology and the use of precision medicine therapies to treat patients specific variants in their cancer has the potential to be so life changing to the people we take care of. I also wanted a career that would allow me a wide range of jobs in the NHS and in the private sector, and one that would be in demand for a number of years to come,  so this specialism was perfect.  

What is the best thing about your role?

One of my favourite things about my training so far is how the work I’ve done has made other people’s jobs easier. So that might be automating a time consuming, error prone task someone in the lab has to do really regularly that causes a bottleneck in sample processing. Using computing, we can free people up to do the jobs they’re trained to do, the job that really makes a difference to a patient’s life.

Hanna – 2nd year Genomic Counselling Trainee (Instagram @diary_of_a_trainee_gc):

What inspired you to work in your specialism?

I was first attracted to the Genetic Counselling (GC) specialism when I came across it completely by chance. I found it was the perfect mixture of working with the public, genetics, education, supporting others and well-being and mental health – all of which I have interests in individually!

What has been your best achievement so far?

So far my favourite achievement has been taking patients through diagnostic and predictive testing for cancer – I have learned a lot about cancer diagnoses and genetics and provided psychosocial support to my patients and formed therapeutic relationships. There are so many aspects to GC and offering a genetic test is just one; GC is valuable to patients and families even if a specific genetic test is not available.

Sarah – 2nd year Medical Physics (Imaging with Ionising Radiation) Trainee:

What prompted you to pursue a career in science?

I’ve always had a curiosity about the world around me and I like to find out the ‘how’ and ‘why’ and solving mathematical problems. I think my inspiration to study science was from a science encyclopaedia I had as a child which explained a wide range of topics including how rainbows are formed; what teeth are made from; the structure of an atom. I studied ‘triple science’ during my GCSEs and enjoyed having a deeper understanding of science – it really made me see the world differently! I thoroughly enjoyed the overlap of biology and physics when learning about the physics of the eye, X-ray imaging and treating with radiation.

What is your proudest achievement so far?

My proudest achievement yet is getting onto the STP programme and being able to use my knowledge and skills to directly impact people’s lives, something I consider to be personally rewarding.

Thank you to these inspiring women for sharing their stories. Happy IWD!

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