It was around 10 years ago now that I joined the STP in medical physics. It was a very interesting time: for me as it was my first full-time job and in a field I’d wanted to work in since I’d heard about it; and also for the healthcare science community. The STP was brand new; this was the first year it had run in most specialisms.
Truthfully, I never thought I’d get onto the Scientist Training Programme.
It was for people who had PhDs, Masters, or loads of experience in the specialism. It was the stuff of legend, where only the most knowledgeable and pioneering young scientists of our generation would be granted a place. The competition ratios were terrifyingly high. The Student Room threads were filled with individuals applying for the third, fourth, fifth time.
The email I received stating I had secured a place on the STP was a euphoric moment, throughout the summer I was so excited for September. I knew I wanted to be a clinical scientist; all through my academic studies I never felt I had found what I wanted to do (does anybody?!) but, when I read about the STP, it sounded perfect and I was so motivated to get there. It took me a few attempts to gain a place and so when I did, I really did value it.
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.
Whether you’re in the final year of the STP trying to complete competencies, the IACC all while applying for clinical scientist jobs after training, or even if you’re just about to go through the STP interview process, mental health is something that can affect everyone. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that mental health affects one in four people worldwide. If trying to battle through a demanding training programme wasn’t enough, we now have to deal with a global pandemic, which is not only affecting how we work but also everyday aspects of our professional and personal lives. Although lockdown restrictions are starting to lift, we’ve been told to adjust to the “new normal” whatever that is supposed to mean. So, considering we need to adjust the way we work in the future, such as working from home more or working a different shift pattern. We all need to take a bit of time to prepare ourselves for this change and make sure we’re looking after our mental wellbeing.