One of the best parts of my STP experience so far has been my elective, it’s a great way of getting away from the work you do every day and gaining new perspectives on healthcare science. My elective ended up being a series of small things rather than a big 4 to 6-week elective, mostly because of time constraints (N.B. getting married during the STP is STRESSFUL) but also because the larger placement that I wanted to do fell through.
As an STP trainee, I work in the genetics laboratory, where we carry out tests on patient’s genetic material to try and diagnose genetic disease. This can involve looking down the microscope at peoples’ chromosomes (cytogenetics) or testing DNA for mutations (molecular genetics). Molecular and Cytogenetics are becoming more and more intertwined, so as an STP in genetics/genomics you train in both. This can be quite a challenge as in many departments they are still very much separate, so you’ll have to manage your time well between the two! Clinical scientists in genetics are more like analysts, we don’t see patients face-to-face and hardly spend any time in the lab- our main role is to interpret the results that come out of the lab and write reports to the doctors and genetic counsellors, who then give the result to the patient.