3 (and a bit) lessons on prepping for your OSFAs

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Hello there lovely STP friends. I imagine you’re all feeling very stressed about your OSFAs right now, as they loom menacingly on the horizon. If you’re fairly chilled out about them, congratulations! I don’t really have anything else I can offer you in this post, so probably best for you to stop reading and go and spend your time a bit more wisely.

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You got an offer. What now?

So the wait is over. You finally got an offer for the Scientist Training Programme!

CONGRATULATIONS!

All the hard work has paid off and you are a few months away from joining our very exclusive club of Healthcare Scientists. I bet you are excited, and so are we. Excited to welcome you to our Trusts and help you start your healthcare journey.

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Can we make science more approachable?

Think of the following scenario. You are in the pub, having a drink and meet some new people. The first thing they ask is, “So, what do you do?”. What do you reply to this? How do you put words together that would make sense to the person in front of you?  I usually have a mild panic trying to assess the level of biological understanding of the person in front of me and lead with “I am training to be a clinical scientist, at the genetics laboratory in our hospital”.   I then wait to see if they ask follow-up questions or are just satisfied with moving on to pub talk.

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How to: make the most of your time

We keep talking about all the things we do in training and how everyone’s training is so different and busy.  So this time, I decided to write about how you can organise your time and still manage to have a life outside the program. These are little tips that help me stay on track and organised (by no means is this the only way to do it).

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My journey into the world of Bioinformatics

How many bioinformaticians knew they wanted to specialise in bioinformatics when they were 18 and sitting their A-levels? Probably not a lot.

Considering that bioinformatics is such a specialised and multidisciplinary field, sometimes I think about how I ended up choosing this as my career path. Initially, I went to the University of Kent to study Biomedical Science with the ultimate goal of getting into Graduate Medicine, like the majority of my classmates. When did I decide that medicine wasn’t for me? Probably when I decided I really disliked pharmacology.

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ECCB18 at a glance

A few weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to attend the European Conference of Computational Biology (ECCB) in Athens, Greece. As a proud greek, the moment I saw there was a bioinformatics conference in my home country I really wanted to go, but also it was an excellent opportunity for me to network, create new contacts and ideally find potential elective opportunities. Every trainee, depending on the trust, has a budget allocated by the school to cover the expenses of going to university. If you are not too frivolous when booking your university accommodation, you might end up with some leftover budget that can be used to attend conferences like this one. Don’t be afraid to ask! If you find an event or a conference that you think might be interesting, ask your TO if you can go. Obviously, don’t find the most expensive conference on the other side of the world cause there’s so much your budget can stretch to.

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A day at the clinic

The STP training is recorded by signing things off for your e-portfolio and your university assessments. Work-based training involves competencies, case-based discussions (CBD), direct observation of practical skills (DOPS) or observed clinical events (OCE).  For each rotation or specialist module, you have to do all the competencies involved and a combination of DOPS or OCES, and CBDs.

As part of my Bioinformatics rotation, and because I usually don’t like to do things the easy way, I got to go observe at a Genomic Counselling clinic which is one of the OCEs of this rotation; “Attend a clinic as an observer and explain your role to the patient”. I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to see how genomic councelling works and get some more clinical experience. I contacted our genomic counselling team, they were very accommodating and agreed for me to observe at an adult endocrine clinic. The majority of endocrine conditions referred to genomic councelling involved panel testing so we thought it would be easier to explain what a bioinformatician does in that context.

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