We keep talking about all the things we do in training and how everyone’s training is so different and busy. So this time, I decided to write about how you can organise your time and still manage to have a life outside the program. These are little tips that help me stay on track and organised (by no means is this the only way to do it).
Since the STP applications are opening relatively soon, I thought it would be good to help potential applicants decide if it’s the right path for them. Every other resource tells you- it’s a graduate scheme with a work-based and MSc component, but what exactly is it like to be on the STP? And what are the challenges you can expect to face on your STP journey? We’ll tackle these questions over a series of posts, using our experiences over the last 15-ish months to provide a real insight to the highs and lows of the STP and exactly what you’re signing up for. A big part of the STP is the fact that you are employed by an NHS trust, so for the first post in this series let’s unravel what it’s like to work for the NHS as a healthcare science trainee.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
We’ve all met new people where the first question is, “So what do you do?”. When I reply, I usually get a blank face in response. How do you explain it in plain words? I usually say we are the people in between biology and computer science and it does the trick. Otherwise, you have to explain what is DNA, what is DNA sequencing, what is a mutation, things that are “coded” in us. What is the usual jargon to us might be someone else’s rocket science.
As there’s a chance that some of you are unfamiliar with the programme we are on, here’s a brief introduction.
The Scientist Training Programme or STP as we call it, is a training programme organised by the National School of Healthcare Science and NHS Health Education England with the aim to train the country’s clinical scientist workforce. At the moment, there are 23 specialisms offered by the programme. The training is undertaken in the span of three years and it consists of 80% on-the-job training and a 20% academic component.