Case study

Trainee clinical scientist, histocompatibility and immunogenetics — Laura

Laura is in her second year of training to become a clinical scientist, combining part-time study with practical training at the Manchester Royal Infirmary

How did you get on the programme?

Before joining the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP), I completed an MRes Molecular Functions in Disease and a PhD in immunology at the University of Glasgow.

Although a postgraduate qualification isn't essential to gain a place on the programme, it's definitely beneficial as recruitment to the programme is very competitive and occurs annually on a national basis.

The best thing about working in the transplantation laboratory is knowing that the work will have a direct benefit and impact on a patient's life

What are your main work activities?

I will be employed as a supernumerary member of staff by the transplantation laboratory at Manchester Royal Infirmary for the duration of the three-year programme.

Being supernumerary means that I am in a unique position to take responsibility for planning my own work. I try to take into account my own training needs, but also the needs of the laboratory and help with routine assays when required.

I typically spend half of my day performing assays in the laboratory, such as antibody detection and definition. I spend the remainder of the day in the office helping with administrative duties, such as processing data and producing reports.

To successfully complete the STP programme I need to fulfil several requirements:

  • an MSc Clinical Science;
  • the online equivalent of a portfolio;
  • work-based training and its associated final assessment.

I can then apply for state registration as a clinical scientist with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). There are routes other than the STP programme, by which you can become state registered.

What are your career ambitions?

Following completion of the programme I am hoping to gain a Band 7 position within the department that has trained me. In doing so, I hope to gain more experience in the field of histocompatibility and immunogenetics, which would prepare me for my FRCPath exams.

However, following completion of the programme there is no guarantee of a position being available for you in your training department.

What are your career ambitions?

Following completion of the programme I am hoping to gain a Band 7 position within the department that has trained me. In doing so, I hope to gain more experience in the field of histocompatibility and immunogenetics, which would prepare me for my FRCPath exams.

However, following completion of the programme there is no guarantee of a position being available for you in your training department.

What do you enjoy/find challenging about the job?

The most challenging aspect of the job is maintaining an effective balance between all the components of the training programme, ensuring that I don't fall behind in any aspect of my training. That said, I have thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of my training thus far, particularly its varied nature and liaising with clinical colleagues.

One of the best things about working in the transplantation laboratory is knowing that the work I'm completing will have a direct benefit and impact on a patient's life, by influencing the care and treatment that they receive from other healthcare professionals.

Any advice for someone who wants to become a clinical scientist?

My advice for people who are considering applying to the STP programme would be to research the role that you're interested in, visit a relevant NHS department and gain experience in a laboratory setting.

Find out more

See what the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) has to offer.