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?
Mental illness affects all of us in some way, whether through personal experience or the experience of a loved one. Hopefully we all know by now that mental illness can affect anyone, and I like to think that in the past few years society has moved towards unravelling the shame and stigma that is attached to it. Don’t get me wrong though, we still have a long way to go.
It was Spring of 2020 and time to go on my first rotational placement of the STP; the informatics team of a private healthcare company. Throughout my career I have worked in the public sector, so this placement was a great chance to gain an insight into the corporate world of the private sector.
Furthering knowledge and improving the health service through the commissioning and development of hardware, software, and algorithms that process clinical, biomedical and associated business data.
It is difficult to imagine modern healthcare without the many medical devices, diagnostic machines and clinical ICT systems that are deeply embedded within it. From an MRI machine that generates diagnostic images to a clinical information system that stores ICU measurements; these complex pieces of engineering and technology are vital to ensuring healthcare data can be robustly captured and patient information sent to those who need it. Who ensures that this technology is appropriate and that data from it is used in the best way possible? If you’re from a physical sciences background and want to use technology to improve healthcare, then it could be you!
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.
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.
I know what you’re thinking- “Jes, what are you talking about? This blog is supposed to be about the STP!”
Well, it all started a couple of weeks ago, on a rainy Friday at the pub after work. Dreaming of better days with better weather, someone piped up “Do you know what would be great? When the weather is good we should have a rounders game!”