Is the STP application process fair?

Last week we received a message from a reader:

Hi There,

As an STP applicant and interviewee for the last three years on my chosen programme I have been left with a sour taste in my mouth regarding the credibility of the interview process for STPs. Unfortunately I don’t think I am the only potential applicant who feels this way, yet our voices continue to go unheard with the feedback we provide to the school of healthcare science. It would be great to see current STPs in post displaying a balanced view of the application process, interview process and training programme to potential applicants rather than a rose-tinted view. It is quite unconvincing when we see a page promoting the STP from such a light when we have seen that year upon year, excellent candidates are slipping through the net, becoming increasingly demeaned and disheartened while less experienced candidates who are able to charm at interview get recruited.

Please let me know your opinion on this.

Firstly, we just want to say thank you for getting in touch, we really value the opinions of our readers and hearing from you helps us to know what to write about. We wanted to share what you’ve written so we can fully address what you’ve spoken about in a way that can help everyone.

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5 take-home messages from TEDxNHS 2018

Every year TEDxNHS is over-subscribed. You fill out a form on their website with a statement of intent and you send it off expecting never to hear back. A few weeks ago, this TED super-fan was lucky enough to attend TEDxNHS 2018 ‘Shaping our legacy’. If morale is ever low or you question why we do what we do, I would prescribe these talks. Special mention to Dr. Charlotte Kemp for being the first Healthcare Scientist to grace this TEDx stage. NHS staff will soon be able to access the videos at https://www.tedxnhs.com/ but in the meantime, here are 5 of my take-home messages from the event:

1. “Stigma kills”

The beliefs we hold as a society can unfairly disgrace and devalue those within it. We all know stigma has no place in healthcare and the following talks showed the steps we can all take towards a zero-stigma NHS.

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The end of a journey…

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…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!).

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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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How to: Nail first year of the STP

Hello! Hopefully there’s a lot of new STP trainees that have found this page since this one is especially for you. Since most new trainees join their trusts at the beginning of September, Adriana and I thought we could put together a little post just before then, to address some of the key skills we think you’ll need, and top tips for smashing your first year of training! So we decided on our top 10 things and made them into a fancy infographic because who doesn’t love a good infographic? But do read on for an explanation on each point!

Adriana can you edit this_

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Specialisms | Genomic Counselling

Genetic counsellors see individuals and families to discuss genetic conditions that are present, or are thought to be present, in their family. Information about an individual’s personal medical history and their family history is taken into account when determining the likelihood of a genetic condition running in a family.

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Bioinformatics: back in time

history of bioinformaticsOne of the things I love about bioinformatics is how relatively new the field is. Bioinformatics; first coined in 1970’s correspondence between Hesper and Hogeweg as a term to describe “the study of informatics processes in biotic systems”1 has since evolved into an invaluable skill in a biologist’s skillset. As a multi-disciplinary field with a delicate balance of biology, computer science and statistics, it is well-known as the method used to deal with “big data” particularly in the field of genomics. But this isn’t how it started.
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STP Reflections | Year 1 | Adriana

The moment I got an offer for the STP, I think my heart skipped a few beats. Throughout last summer I was constantly excited, couldn’t wait to move to Cambridge and get started. Not that I was entirely sure what it involved at that time but I knew that bioinformatics in healthcare was something I was passionate about.

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This is going to hurt, (or make you laugh).

A fellow trainee suggested to me I should read “This is going to hurt” by Adam Kay. As it had been on my reading list for a while, and in a desperate need for a light and entertaining read, I gave it a go.

Let me just say now, I haven’t enjoyed a book so much in a long time. It is one of those books that you start and you have difficulty putting back down without finishing. It made me laugh out loud, which when you are alone in a public place is not ideal.

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