Science in Practice

Echocardiography

Rebecca Macrae
Cardiac Physiologist, Barts Heart Centre, Barts Health NHS Trust

What qualifications did you come out of school with?

3 A levels – Physical education, geography and psychology

What was your career pathway?

I undertook an undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Sciences and then went on to take a student Cardiac Physiologist post – I worked part time in a hospital and obtained a further undergraduate degree in Clinical Physiology at the same time

What qualifications do you have and how many years has it taken you in study? 

I have two undergraduate degrees (one paid for by NHS) and two professional qualifications. The great thing about cardiac physiology is that we are always learning.

Why did you choose to be a biomedical scientist?

I had a background in sport and exercise science which was applicable to my role as a cardiac physiologist. I enjoy being able to diagnose heart conditions and work with a range of teams and patients. Every day is different.

What professional bodies are you affiliated to?

British Society of Echocardiography and European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging

What do you like best about your job?

I really enjoy being able to make a direct impact on patients lives. Beng able to diagnose their heart condition and therefore get patients the treatment they need to feel better. It is also great to see these patients in follow up after their treatment and see their improvements.

What do you like least?

Nothing to be honest! I am very lucky to enjoy my job

Do you make a good living out of being a Biomedical Scientist?

Yes, we are fortunate that our salary is very competitive worldwide. This has enabled me to buy my own home and be financially indepedent

What fun things/interests do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy cycling, running and am currently learning spanish. I also love to travel.

Could you have become a biomedical scientist without going to University

There are some options that mean university is not requred. For example, apprentiship roles that require a background of working in a cardiology hospital environment

Microbiology –
Infection control during an outbreak

Vicky Heath
Lead Quality and Risk Assurance Manager for Physiological Sciences, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust

What qualifications did you come out of school with?

What was your career pathway?

What qualifications do you have and how many years has it taken you in study? 

Why did you choose to be a biomedical scientist?

What professional bodies are you affiliated to?

What do you like best about your job?

What do you like least?

Do you make a good living out of being a Biomedical Scientist?

What fun things/interests do you do in your spare time?

Could you have become a biomedical scientist without going to University

Lab tour showcasing a Haematology laboratory

Susanne Kricke
Senior Specialist Biomedical Scientist Haematology, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust

What qualifications did you come out of school with?

I did my A levels in Germany.

What was your career pathway?

When I first moved to England, I was employed as a Healthcare Technical Officer and later as a Senior Healthcare Technical Officer in the NHS Blood and Transplant Centre (National Blood Service) in Colindale. I started working at St Mary’s Hospital in August 2006 as a Medical Laboratory Assistant where, two years later, I started my BSc in Applied Biomedical Science. In my third year of university I progressed to the position of Trainee Biomedical Scientist in the same department. Following the completion of my BSc degree and HCPC registration in July 2012  I further advanced to the position of Biomedical Scientist Band 5. Two years later I progressed to a Band 6 position within the same department. I started my MSc in Haematology in 2013 which took two years to complete. In 2016, I left St Mary’s Hospital and went to work as a Specialist Biomedical Scientist in the Specialist Integrated Haematological and Malignancy Diagnostic Service (SIHMDS) department at Great Ormond Street Hospital. In 2018, I became a Senior Specialist Biomedical Scientist within the same department and this is still my current role.

What qualifications do you have and how many years has it taken you in study? 

The BSc was a part-time course and took me 4 years to complete. The MSc was also a part-time course and took 2 years to complete.

Why did you choose to be a biomedical scientist?

When I moved to England, I knew I wanted to do something science-related, that’s when I came across the job in the National Blood Service in Colindale which didn’t require special qualifications or prior experience. From then on my career just evolved in a very positive way and I became a Biomedical Scientist.

What professional bodies are you affiliated to?

Health and Care Professional Council
Institute of Biomedical Science

What do you like best about your job?

We are dealing with children who have very rare diseases. It is incredibly interesting to learn about these diseases including their symptoms and genetics. We perform various tests on the patients’ blood and bone marrow. The results are then used by the doctors to assess how sick the patients are and what treatment to give. This means that even though we actually don’t get to see the patients personally, we have a very significant input in their treatment. Developing new laboratory methods to detect and monitor cutting-edge treatment (such as CART cell therapy) is on of my favourite parts of my job.

What do you like least?

We monitor the children over years and really get to know them. So, it’s very upsetting when a child passes away because their disease is returning or the treatment hasn’t worked.

Do you make a good living out of being a Biomedical Scientist?

As with everyone else working for the NHS, it is not about money. But yes, at my level I do make a decent living.

What fun things/interests do you do in your spare time?

Before the pandemic, I loved to go to kickboxing classes. I’m hoping things will return to normal soon and I can go back to the classes to keep fit. Also, I’m a huge movie fan, especially sci-fi and fantasy. East Asian movies are the best.

Could you have become a biomedical scientist without going to University

No

Simulation – remote ways of training healthcare workers during a global pandemic

Emma Broughton
Operational Lead for Simulation, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust

What qualifications did you come out of school with?

Higher level; Art, Human Biology and English

What was your career pathway?

I studied Childrens Nursing at University

What qualifications do you have and how many years has it taken you in study? 

I have a degree, PGCert and I’m also now completing amn MSc

Why did you choose to be a biomedical scientist?

N/A

What professional bodies are you affiliated to?

Nursing and Midwifery council as a registered nurse and a nurse educator

What do you like best about your job?

Being part of a creative and innvovative industry

What do you like least?

Lots of email traffic

Do you make a good living out of being a Biomedical Scientist?

N/A

What fun things/interests do you do in your spare time?

I play the piano and enjoy photography

Could you have become a biomedical scientist without going to University

Although I’m not a scientist, I could not have followed my career pathway in nursing or simulation without going to university

You are what you eat…

Clare Shaw
Consultant Dietitian, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

What qualifications did you come out of school with?

I left school after taking 8 GCSEs and 4 A levels – Chemistry, Biology, Home Economics and General studies

What was your career pathway?

I went to University and studied for a science degree in Nutrition and then took a post graduate diploma in Dietetics. My Diploma in Dietetics involved hospital placements where I started to see and advice patients with differenc conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. I particularly enjoyed encouraging people to eat well and found I enjoyed the challenge of supporting people with cancer and I have spent most of my career working in a specialist cancer hospital.

What qualifications do you have and how many years has it taken you in study? 

My first qualifications took 3 years for my BSc (Hons) in Nutrition then 15 months for the post graduate diploma. I did a PhD whilst I was working – this gives an education in how to conduct research studies and now I am able to carry out my own nutrition research in the hospital. A PhD can take anything from 3 – 5 years.

Why did you choose to be a biomedical scientist?

I have always been fascinated by science and I love food and cooking. It seemed an ideal combination of the two subjects. I spoke to people who worked as dietitians and I loved the sound of their job. I feel it is really important that people are informed of the good science behind food and nutrition rather than all the stories that are not supported by the science.

What professional bodies are you affiliated to?

I am registered on the Health and Care Professionals Council which is required for my professional registration. I am a member of the British Dietetic Association and also a member of the group for Dietitians who specialise in cancer (oncology). I am also a member of a European Group of Dietitians who work in Cancer (European Federation of the Association of Dietitians)

What do you like best about your job?

The best part of my job is that that there is always something to learn – the subject of nutrition and the job are never boring. I like to be able to read the science and then translate that into what it means in terms of food and diet. I love working with people and using my knowledge and skills to help them when they are unwell. I have loved writing cookery books and nutrition text books.

What do you like least?

The thing is like least is that lots of people are confused about diet and nutrition due to stories and information on the internet that are not true.

Do you make a good living out of being a Biomedical Scientist?

Yes, I have made a good living out of being a Dietitian. By working hard and studying for a PhD I am now a Consultant Dietitian with more responsibility. I have also had opportunities to advise companies and to travel to many countries to speak at conferences.

What fun things/interests do you do in your spare time?

I look being outside and playing with my cocker spaniel puppy Ziggy. I also love travelling and look forward to doing so again when we are all safer.

Could you have become a biomedical scientist without going to University

No, I had to go to university to become a Dietitian

Sleep Physiology

Matthew Davies
Chief Sleep Physiologist, Respiratory Sleep Unit, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust

What qualifications did you come out of school with?

GCSE’s
A levels: Maths, Electronics & Law

What was your career pathway?

NHS Band 5 Respiratory (Paediatric Lung Function) and Sleep Physiologist
NHS Band 6 Senior Sleep Physiologist
NHS Band 7 Chief Sleep Physiologist (Department Manager)

What qualifications do you have and how many years has it taken you in study? 

BSc Clinical Physiology (Respiratory & Sleep) – 3 years
Registered Polysomnographic Technologist (RPSGT) – professional exam for sleep physiologists – 2 years

Currently Studying MSc Sleep Medicine – 2 years part time

Why did you choose to be a biomedical scientist?

I chose to be a physiologist because I enjoy interacting and helping people. I enjoy using technology and science to diagnose and treat patients.

What professional bodies are you affiliated to?

Asssociation for Respiratory Technology and Physiology (ARTP)
British Sleep Society (BSS)
International Paediatric Sleep Association (IPSA)
American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)
Registration Council for Clinical Physiologist (RCCP)
The Academy for Healthcare Scientists (AHCS)

What do you like best about your job?

Witnessing the positive impact of treatment on children’s sleep which allows them to achieve their full potential.

What do you like least?

Working night shifts.

Do you make a good living out of being a Biomedical Scientist?

Comfortable yes.

What fun things/interests do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy watching and playing sports, and listening and playing music.

Could you have become a biomedical scientist without going to University

Unfortunately not. However, there are now apprenticeships available in healthcare sciences which provide an “earn and learn” opportunity.

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