Last Updated: 31st July 2019

My experiences on the PTP by Andrea Geere

Healthcare science course at University of Portsmouth lives up to expectations.

What is your overall experience of the healthcare science course that you studied? What are the particular benefits or challenges you faced?

The HCS course at Portsmouth really lived up to my expectations. Being part of the very first cohort to graduate with the new style degree, I anticipated that a few changes to the course structure might occur along the way. However, I thought the course was both planned and executed well, and I thoroughly enjoyed all three years of my studies. The lectures and laboratory sessions at the university were all very interesting and relevant to the degree, and the lecturers themselves were all highly knowledgeable in their respective fields, and were always available to provide feedback on work and give additional guidance when needed.

In my eyes the most attractive part of the HCS course was the integrated placement opportunity. Although it was demanding in terms of juggling both university work and the professional component of the degree, it was an integral part of what made this course so valuable, and was an excellent way of acquiring good time management skills. The placement opportunity not only provided me with solid industry experience, but also allowed me to complete my Practitioner Training Programme, which allowed me to leave university with the ability to immediately apply for state registration as a Biomedical Scientist which was exactly what I was looking for from my degree course. Having the ability to work in an NHS laboratory each week not only helped me to acquire and perfect the technical and transferrable skills needed to prepare me for employment, but also enabled me to gain first hand clinical knowledge for my chosen specialism, as well as consolidate the theoretical knowledge provided by the university lectures.

A major highlight of the course was being able to conduct my final year research project in my training laboratory. The knowledge that the findings from my evaluation could have possibly impacted the way the laboratory carried out one of its protocols was highly motivating. Another great opportunity provided by the course were the patient facing experiences that were a part of the placement timetable, which allowed me to visit patients by participating in various clinics and ward rounds. Having the use of a simulation laboratory at the university and participating in practicals before going out on placement was really beneficial for preparing us for various scenarios in a controlled environment, before we experienced them ourselves in the hospital.

Was this the right choice of degree to meet your career goals. How well did the course prepare you for employment?

I chose to study for a degree with the sole aim of graduating and becoming a Biomedical Scientist, in order to combine both my interest of science alongside being able to help and provide good care to patients. This course enabled me to do just that, by allowing me to work towards achieving my state registration by completing the Practitioner Training Programme, whilst studying for my BSc at the same time.

In terms of preparing me for employment, the course could not have been better. It equipped me with both the technical and theoretical knowledge needed in order to develop from a novice into a graduate that would be employed as a confident Biomedical Scientist, and having the integrated placement component also allowed for a seamless transition from academia into a full time working environment. Also, the patient facing experiences whilst on placement helped to prepare me for the possible changing role of the Biomedical Scientist, and even though at the moment the role is very much behind the scenes, whilst working in a hospital you still encounter and interact with patients daily.

What are your reflections on your patient facing experiences? Did these add value to your programme?

The patient facing opportunities that were included over the three years really helped to develop a well-rounded understanding of the role of the Biomedical Scientist as a part of the multi-disciplinary healthcare team that provides care to patients. As part of the non-clinical staff, Biomedical Scientists rarely see patients, so enabling students to participate in ward rounds and work alongside other healthcare professionals was invaluable in raising awareness not only of the importance of role of the Biomedical Scientist, but also in remembering that at the end of every sample received is a patient that requires the best service possible.

I was able to participate in a combination of different ward rounds, clinics, as well as attend a multi-disciplinary team meeting. Each of these enabled me to develop my understanding of how patients are managed outside of the laboratory, and also to establish a link between pathology and the other departments within the hospital. These visits emphasised to me how necessary and important it is to combine laboratory results alongside tending to the patient directly, in order to treat the whole patient, and thus ensuring the patient is provided with the best care.

Would you recommend your healthcare science programme to prospective students?

Most definitely. If they are interested in the pathology of disease, and want to understand and experience first-hand how this this is investigated in a clinical environment, then this is the course for them. Furthermore, this course not only has two predefined career paths within the NHS that can either lead to becoming a registered Biomedical Scientist or Clinical Scientist, but also opens up many other avenues due to the scientific knowledge, and technical and transferrable skills that are obtained during your studies.

How do you think the healthcare science degree can be better promoted?

I think having graduate BMS’ that have taken the course attending careers events at schools and colleges, and participating in university open days would allow them to engage directly with prospective students would help give a better insight to students what the course is like.

Are you now employed? If yes, state grade, title and place/department of employment.

Biomedical Scientist, Band 5, Immunology – Ashford & St Peter’s NHS Foundation Trust.

How many interviews did you attend before being offered this job opportunity?

I attended only this interview, but was invited to interview for four posts.

Are you now following a career in healthcare science? Is this in your placement department and/or specialism?

Yes. This is not within my placement laboratory or specialism.

Please comment on your experience in employment so far.

I began taking a real interest in immunology in my second year, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work in this field. However, having moved to a different specialism has been a steep learning curve, but I am really enjoying learning a new discipline and expanding my biomedical repertoire. It was always slightly daunting the thought of running my own bench by myself, but having been doing this for a month now I have realised that there really was not anything to worry about, and I am looking forward to moving round the rest of sections in the laboratory soon.

What are your long term career ambitions?

I am about to start work on my Specialist Portfolio, so over the next couple of years I aim to have accomplished that and then move on to studying for my MSc and take on more responsibility in the laboratory. I have also considered applying for the STP programme once I have completed a few years in industry first, and maybe move into more of a clinical research role.