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.
Conferences can be interesting, exciting, informative and even inspiring. But they can also be a little bit daunting and definitely exhausting. I’m feeling very slightly conferenced-out at the moment, having attended 2 back-to-back last week and knowing I’m attending another meeting next week. It’s safe to say there is only so much information my brain can hold so I’m lucky none of my shoes were lace-ups last week.
If you had up to 6 weeks away from your day job to broaden your experiences around healthcare and science, how would you spend it? Sounds like a hypothetical, but that’s the very question you’re faced on the Scientist Training Programme. The scheme has loads of opportunities to tailor it to your interests, but the elective is by far the most flexible component; giving you the exciting opportunity to spend up to 6 weeks gaining experience outside the normal realms of your training.
I’ve recently organised and am soon heading off on my own elective at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation . So I thought now might be a good time to share some tips based on what I did while searching for an elective.
It’s national coding week! To celebrate I wanted to talk about how important coding is in healthcare and put it into perspective for those of you that might read that and think “Coding? How could that possibly influence my healthcare?”
It’s true, I may be a little biased as I am a bioinformatician, so a large part of my job is – you guessed it – coding. However, I really don’t think it will be long before coding will be an essential part of all healthcare science jobs!
Last week we received a message from a reader:
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.
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.
…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!).
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.
In honour of the new season of the Great British Bake Off starting last week, I put together a tongue-in-cheek list of 5 ways the STP and the bake-off are basically the same process. Read on to find out how.
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!