Hi I’m Owen, a first year STP (Scientist Training Programme) student within the Clinical Pharmaceutical Sciences specialism, based at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust. I thought I’d write this to help raise awareness to the contributions of my specialism to healthcare science (made up of over 50 specialisms) and the NHS as a whole.
Unlike many other specialisms within healthcare science, Clinical Pharmaceutical Science is predominantly non-patient facing, mainly taking place behind the scenes. For this reason I think it is great that Clinical Pharmaceutical Sciences, and healthcare science as a whole, have weeks such as Healthcare science week to gain the recognition it deserves.
In 2021 I graduated from Leeds University where I completed a BSc in Biochemistry, during which I also spent a year in industry working for Philips Respironics in Chichester as a lab technician.
My initial plan was to do a masters and go onto a research PhD, however I really enjoyed my year in industry and decided that a solely research based career route was not what I wanted anymore. What attracted me to the STP was the mix of not only academic teaching and research, but also the emphasis on work-based training which is central to the course programme. The STP also gave me a route into becoming a clinical scientist within the NHS, a role which enables me to be involved with improving service quality and providing the best patient-centred care, albeit from behind the scenes.
Being given the opportunity to gain hand-on experience in the workplace is invaluable when paired to the part-time clinical pharmaceutical science masters course I am currently completing as part of the STP. Overall the support from everyone has been amazing and it’s really helped my personal and professional development since starting the programme.
In order to maintain a healthy work-life balance, outside of work I enjoy staying active by playing hockey and bouldering, I also try to get away and visit new places as much as possible.
My experience so far
Clinical Pharmaceutical Sciences can be broadly broken up into 4 areas:
- Quality Assurance (QA)
- Quality Control (QC) and production
I spent the first four months of my STP journey at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust where I got experience working in the Aseptics unit, gaining a greater understanding of the manufacture of sterile medicines including chemotherapy, Parental Nutrition, and Central Intravenous Additive Service (CIVAS), for use in NHS patients.
Since the New Year I have rotated to Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI) where I have been working as part of the QA team. This team works closely with the aseptics service at BRI, overseeing the overall production process and putting systems in place to ensure control and to minimise the risks of product contamination.
In the past two weeks I have just started my rotation, again at BRI, in the radiopharmacy department. This team carries out the assembly of radiopharmaceuticals (drug compounds labelled with radioactivity), for therapeutic or diagnostic application. I have found the experience really interesting, and completely different to anything I’ve been involved with so far! For example, this week I have had the chance to follow the journey of a DaTscan radiopharmaceutical, which is used as in tests for Parkinson’s disease, from its production by the radiopharmacy team, to its administration and the patient brain scan using a SPECT camera (with the medical physics department).
Brief reflection on my experience
Despite a steep learning curve in this first year, especially when it came to the academic content, I have enjoyed seeing how much I have developed and learned in such a short amount of time. I have really enjoyed my learning experience so far and I am hoping to become a more integral part of the teams I work in as the programme progresses. I am excited for what my future within Clinical Pharmaceutical Science holds!
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