Kennedy, Biomedical Scientist

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Why did you want to become a Biomedical Scientist? 

Becoming a Biomedical Scientist was not overly straight forward for me, I wasn’t even aware of what they were until after leaving University. I had to get my degree assessed and complete some extra top-up modules - this is the avenue that anyone who has done an unaccredited Biomedical Science Degree (or a closely related Science based degree) would need to take to become a Biomedical Scientist. 

Why did you want to join the NHS?

As I mentioned previously I needed to complete some top up modules alongside my degree, and while these top up modules provided me with the knowledge based requirements I still needed to complete the practical aspect that would enable me to become a Biomedical Scientist. 

This comes in the form of a registration portfolio, which is what anyone who has completed an accredited degree but without a placement year would need to do next. The NHS has a lot of defined training laboratories where you can complete these portfolios. I also figured that being in the UK’s largest organisation I would be able to do more things outside of my actual role, for example I am a training deputy and I help with other people’s portfolios but there are also opportunities in quality, health and safety or specialist automation.  

Tell us about your role?  

In Haematology it is a mix of technical, practical and knowledge based work. In our technical work we deal with complex analytical systems that require ongoing maintenance to ensure they are operating appropriately. The practical aspect is setting up the manual tests that the analysers can’t do for us, looking at blood films, looking at QC’s8217;s and then in terms of knowledge we need to be able to assess patients results and figure out what is normal for the patient and what is not, therefore requiring further investigation. We deal with diagnosing leukaemia and lymphomas, so the quicker we can access results the better. 

What do you love most about your role?

So I really enjoy the way that my role changes from day to day you’re never really doing the same thing consecutive days. You could see things once in a lifetime, which in terms of human disease is extremely interesting. We also deal with the major blood loss alarms in blood transfusion where the rate at which you can provide appropriate products for that patient is a matter of life and death. I love that my role plays an important part in patient treatment, even if I do not personally see patients myself. 

How has Covid-19 impacted on your role?

As I don’t see patients in a face-to-face capacity I wasn’t sure how the Covid-19 pandemic would affect me and my work until spring of this year in the midst of national lockdown and the peak of the first wave. At this time the vast majority of patients within the hospital were covid-19 positive and needed frequent blood tests; which meant the blood samples I was handling on a daily basis were a known infection risk. There was never an option to simply not test these, and so the risk of contracting Covid-19 in this manner instead had to be minimised by the introduction of protocols involving wearing increased levels of PPE and performing all manual work in which samples had to be opened in a specialised fumigation cabinet to wick away any aerosols created in order to help keep us safe. There are still scenarios in the laboratory where it is not possible for such open-top work to be carried out in a fumigation cabinet (usually due to the requirement equipment being large and immobile) and in these situations those deemed at increased risk of severe side effects of Covid-19 are not permitted to carry out the work. As one of the individuals deemed at least risk, a lot of this work was and still is carried out by myself and others in a similar situation; however, as the risk of transmission is still incredibly small and the fact my PPE is designed to protect me I have not been overly worried.