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Biomedical scientist: Rachel

 [1] Rachel graduated in pathology and microbiology at the University of Bristol in 2003. Four years later, she decided to become a biomedical scientist (BMS) and needed further study, which she completed simultaneously with a trainee biomedical scientist position. She is now a qualified BMS and works in clinical chemistry at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital NHS.
After completing my degree in pathology and microbiology, I was unsure what career path I wanted to follow and spent the next two years travelling and working in a variety of jobs completely unrelated to my degree subject. In 2005, I applied for and was successful in obtaining a position as a medical laboratory assistant (MLA) in the clinical chemistry laboratory of my local hospital. I wanted to use the skills and knowledge I had gained in my degree course and explore future career opportunities available to me.

[2] I worked as an MLA for two years, during which time I became familiar with the work of a BMS in healthcare and decided I would like to pursue a career in this field. My degree was not accredited by the governing body of biomedical scientists and I was required to take supplementary ‘top-up’ modules, which I completed through the University of Ulster distance learning programme. Once I’d completed this, I was able to apply for a trainee BMS position within my laboratory.
I was successful in my application and began my training. I thoroughly enjoyed my training year, working with an extremely knowledgeable and helpful team. During the year, I completed my certificate of competence portfolio, documenting the work I’d done and the skills and knowledge I’d developed. I had my portfolio assessed at the end of my training year and conducted a laboratory tour for my assessor. I passed my assessment and was able to apply for state registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) .

 [3] I’ve now been a qualified BMS for 18 months and enjoy my job very much. The clinical chemistry laboratory where I work is a high-throughput laboratory. We process approximately 2,500 samples a day and aim to carry out sample processing as quickly and accurately as possible. The work we do can be very fast paced and it’s important to be able to have good time management skills, to be focused and to be able to prioritise urgent work.
My laboratory provides analyses of a wide variety of tests using many different techniques. The job requires a range of technical skills as well as the ability to understand and interpret patient results. The lab is divided into different sections including HPLC, first trimester Downs syndrome screening, high-throughput automated analysis and manual testing. BMS staff rotate around these sections, which gives variety to the job and stops it becoming repetitive, and we offer a 24/7 service, which means there’s always a BMS on duty through the night. The work is challenging and constantly evolving and so there’s plenty of scope to continue to learn new skills.
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