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Celebrating Healthcare Science Week: A day in the life of a healthcare science professional
This week we’re celebrating Healthcare Science Week (14-20 March), a week-long programme designed to raise awareness of the amazing work of healthcare science professionals, whilst highlighting the difference they make to patients’ lives.
To mark the occasion, we caught up with current professionals Shazmeen Hansrod, Jamie Grey and Davinder Gardner to find out what a day in the life of a healthcare science professional looks like, as well as the importance of vocational routes into the sector.
A little bit about our healthcare science professionals:
Shazmeen is a Specialist Radiopharmaceutical Scientist and Quality Lead in a radiopharmacy department that serves as a regional hub, providing both clinical and technical expertise. She’s a registered clinical scientist and uses her scientific skills to perform research and audits and is also the quality lead, which requires her to ensure that they comply with the regulatory frameworks that govern pharmaceutical manufacturing and aseptic services. Shazmeen has a MSc in Clinical Pharmaceutical Science and MChem in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and has a keen interest in travelling, the outdoors, reading and writing.
Jamie is a Trainee Clinical Scientist who is 18 months into his three-year training as part of the Scientist Training Programme (STP) to become a registered Clinical Scientist in Nuclear Medicine. Jamie has a BSc in Physics and is currently studying for his MSc in Clinical Science (Medical Physics), with a keen interest in field hockey, hiking, photography, physics and astronomy.
Davinder is a Clinical Scientist in radiotherapy, performing routine quality assurance on radiotherapy machines, planning patient radiotherapy treatments and helping to research and implement the latest developments in treatments. She has a BSc in Physics and MSc in Clinical Science (Medical Physics) and a keen interest in walking, cooking, working with a mental health charity, and her Christian faith.
What does a day in healthcare science look like for you?
Shazmeen: “A typical day in my role involves waking up at the crack of dawn and making my way into work so we can prepare the lab and start manufacturing for 6am. Since we’re preparing injectable medicines, we have to follow strict procedures to preserve the sterility of the product. Afterwards, we perform quality control testing of the product to check that it’s fit for patient administration. As my colleagues prepare for the afternoon production session, I’ll settle at my desk to work on a report or attend a virtual meeting to discuss service improvement. My working day varies day-to-day and could include anything from staff training, research studies, blood radiolabelling, stability testing, updating protocols and general administration.”
Jamie: “A large part of my job involves writing ‘competencies’ to prove my understanding of various practices to eventually earn my registration. I’m still able to get stuck in during the day-to-day work to improve my skills and engage with patients; this could include shadowing/assisting in various radioactive therapies alongside a registered clinical scientist, or running tests to ensure that the imaging equipment is working to a good standard.”
Davinder: “There’s never a typical day as a Clinical Scientist! Some days I’ll be doing tests on radiotherapy machines to check that they are working as they should be, and therefore that patient treatments will be delivered exactly as we expect. I also create bespoke radiotherapy plans for cancer patients, making sure to get sufficient radiation to their tumour which will help to kill it. At the same time, I have to minimise the radiation given to critical organs close to the tumour as excessive radiation can harm them too. The balance is ensuring that not only is the cancer treated, but the patient can have a good quality of life afterwards. I also help with training in my department and if we get new equipment or new techniques, I help to get it ready for use with our patients.”
What first interested you about healthcare science and what’s the best thing about working in healthcare science?
Shazmeen: “Initially, I wanted to work in a research lab or in the pharmaceutical industry, but it was during my time working in a lab at university that I discovered that I was not suited to working on my own for long periods of time. I prefer to work as part of a team and to feel that I am making a difference to the lives of patients. The best thing about working in healthcare science is that it’s a constantly evolving field and you are always learning and growing.”
Jamie: “Healthcare science was a career route for myself that I saw as undeniably providing a valuable contribution to society. It’s great to come to work knowing that you are joining a massive nationwide effort of improving lives and helping people. Healthcare science is great because I get to utilise my scientific skills while simultaneously doing that!”
Davinder: “I did a physics degree thinking that I’d like astrophysics, but I realised that working in that field would be too abstract to motivate me. Using science and problem-solving skills to directly help with positive outcomes in patients was right up my street. And that’s the best thing about it – you can see the difference you make every day.”
Would you recommend that learners look at vocational training routes for a career in healthcare science?
Shazmeen: “I’d recommend looking into vocational training routes for a career in healthcare science because there are so many different roles available and once trained, the work you will go on to do will be invaluable.”
Jamie: “I’m perhaps a little biased, but the STP has been a well-structured programme for me and provided a clear route to getting into healthcare science. There are so many specialisms beyond Medical Physics that you can enter through!”
Davinder: “Absolutely! It’s not the route I took, but it’s a route that suits the profession and I believe it will help make the career more accessible to all regardless of their background and therefore create a more diverse pool of healthcare scientists in the future.”
Read more about the health and science qualifications and opportunities we provide at NCFE.