Happy New Year everybody! 2020 was an odd and challenging one but if you are reading this you made it through. Pat yourself on the back for it.
I have been meaning to write this for a long time, but I always find myself with a massive list of tasks and it is hard to find time. So, three years of the STP gone, completed. I can brag to have completed it, registered as a Clinical Bioinformatician and hold a permanent Clinical Scientist position at Addenbrookes’s Hospital, but how did I get here and what did I learn?
To say that my first year on the STP hasn’t quite been what I expected is probably an understatement. After two plain-sailing rotations I (along with the rest of the country) was catapulted into a different world where fusilli became worth its weight in gold and where the word ‘unprecedented’ became incredibly triggering. My genomics rotation, which I had just started, was suspended and my final rotation – well, who knows. The HFEA, the government’s regulator for fertility treatments, contacted clinics asking them to not start any new treatments and to complete any ongoing treatments by 15th April 2020. Because of this, I found myself back in my hometown and adjusting to living with my parents again. With no microscopes or pipettes in sight, I had to turn my attention to exam revision and completing whichever competencies I could, usually with the help of a lot of Google searching. The nature of a lockdown means that the luxury of distraction is denied to you, which leaves you lot of time to peruse the thoughts in your own head…
This time last year, I was busy moving house to my new STP training location. Needless to say, I was excited about joining the program and to meet my training department. Not even the extra shots of vaccinations I had to get were going to dampen my spirits. This was to be my first job in the NHS and that itself has always been one of my biggest motivations for applying for the STP. I wanted to develop my scientific knowledge and experience and apply them to benefit patients directly.
My day-dream version of the “perfect 1st year” of the STP is calm, controlled, and organised – just how I like my life to work! *Cue dream sequence music and a way dissolve into my STP fantasy* My OneFile portfolio is at (or even ahead of) the target progression, my Manchester university exams went ahead as normal (and I did amazingly), I’ve finished my first year rotations by the end of the first year and I’ve just returned back to my host department ready to remind everyone who I am and get learning on my specialist rotations.
As many new trainees will have just completed or shortly be starting their first stint at their respective universities, Ang Davies, a senior lecturer on the clinical bioinformatics teaching pathway, takes a look at that pathway and how clinical bioinformatics as a profession has developed over the past 7 years. From the first year of training where the entire profession was practically founded, to the breakthrough that is routine genomic testing across England, who better to reflect on that journey than someone who helped pave the way?
Have you heard other STPs and training officers mention electives and not sure what they are? The elective rotation or just elective is a fantastic opportunity to leave your department for 4-6 weeks, go learn something new, experience a different environment and broaden your horizons. This can be anywhere in the world ( might depend on department and your finances) or it can even be down the corridor in a different department. The world is your oyster as they say. Last week I started my elective and decided to share my experience with you. Hopefully, I can give you a weekly roundup of what I’ve learned and some cool pictures of all the new places I visit.
This week, I can officially call myself a third year STP. This calls for celebration, excitement and possibly panic that there’s just a year of training left, a year left for the OneFile progress dial to reach 100% and less than a year till the OSFAs. But what it also calls for, is time for reflection.
Monday, September 16th 2019. 5pm. That date and time seemed like the distant future when I first started on the scheme all the way back in September 2016. However, time has a nasty habit of progressing linearly, and now with less than a month to go, I find myself thinking back on my experiences these past few years. Here are some of those thoughts loosely arranged in a human-readable chronological form.