Case study

My experience on the Biomedical Science PTP by Philippa D’Arcy-Grover


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

Overall I really enjoyed the Healthcare Science course at Portsmouth. I did find the work load challenging at times as I had to complete most of my university work in the evenings after university /placement. However, I generally enjoyed completing my assignments for the course, particularly those relevant to Microbiology. I found the placement a bit overwhelming in the beginning of the 1st year and felt that I was sometimes performing tasks that I didn’t necessarily have the background knowledge for. However in the second and third years of the course I felt that placement and university complemented each other well. I believe that I wouldn’t have done as well in the general units if I hadn’t been on the placement.

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

I am very glad that I decided to study in the Healthcare Science course at Portsmouth because I feel that I got a lot more out of it than I would have from studying the Biomedical Science course. There is the Microbiology / Biomedical Science specific skills and knowledge that I gained but it has also prepared me for employment as I am used to the working environment of an NHS laboratory. If I had chosen to study on the Biomedical Science course I would still need to complete my generic portfolio to be able to work as a Band 5 Biomedical Scientist which would have to be completed in my own time and could take as much as 2 years. Having completed it at university, not only means that I can apply for band 5 posts straight away but that I was able to gain an academic mark for my generic portfolio.

What are your reflections on the placement/workplace programme. What were the particular benefits or disadvantages?

There were times when I found the placement challenging, as mentioned in the 1st year where I think I was sometimes out of my depth and there was a general struggle to find time to complete university assignments. However I think that the benefits were certainly worth the hard work. I don’t think I would have gotten my job as an Associate Practitioner and then the Biomedical Scientist job if I hadn’t been on placement.

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

In the first and second year I found attendance on ward rounds slightly distressing and would feel rather clueless and useless when visiting patients. However I really enjoyed my patient facing experiences in the third year. I spent some time with one of the Microbiology consultants and the Infection Control team and visited patients that I had actually carried out the laboratory investigations on. I think I found it more enjoyable and worthwhile because I had an understanding of the patient conditions (mainly Clostridium difficile infection) and actually understood what was going on. These visits really highlighted how vital the work I do in the laboratory is and it was extremely rewarding to directly contribute to the care of a specific patient and see members of staff taking action on results that I had generated and reported.

Are there any particular anecdotal or emotional experiences that you would like to describe?

It was rewarding to hear from the laboratory staff when I finish placement of how important they all felt my role was within the laboratory and how much I was relied on within the team.

Would you recommend your healthcare science programme to prospective students?

If you want to work as Biomedical Scientist in an NHS laboratory then most definitely. The course just sets you up perfectly to do this.

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

Having helped out at several open days at the university I think the name of the course certainly puts people off and they dismiss it before they have even heard anything about it. I also find it surprising how many perspective students don’t really even know what Biomedical Science is and what a Biomedical Scientists role is in the NHS. I have been involved with planning events for National Pathology Week at Queen Alexandra Hospital and feel that it is a good occasion to spread awareness of Biomedical Science and the Healthcare Science course.

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

I am currently employed as an Associate Practitioner (NHS band 4) in the Microbiology laboratory at Queen Alexandra Hospital Portsmouth NHS trust and have been working there since June. I will be starting as a Biomedical Scientist (NHS band 5) in the same laboratory in October.

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

I was interviewed for the Associate Practitioner post in April and started two weeks after finishing University. A band 5 Practitioner Biomedical Scientist was advertised in July and I was interviewed for the position in late August. These are the only two interviews that I have had.

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

Yes I am currently working as a band 4 Associate Practitioner and will be starting as a band 5 Biomedical Scientist in October in the laboratory where I completed my placement.

Please comment on your experience in employment so far.

I have enjoyed working full time, although I do miss doing academic assignments. However, I am planning on completing my specialist portfolio in the near future. I think I would have found full time employment challenging and draining if I hadn’t been on placement.

What are your long term career ambitions?

Long term, I would like to lecture at a university and carry out academic research. However, I’m planning on working for the NHS for the foreseeable future.

Last updated on 16th June 2021