Real-life story - Thomas Butterfield

Thomas started with a degree in electronics and then joined the NHS Scientist Training [Master’s] Programme.

Thomas Butterfield
Thomas Butterfield Clinical scientist (clinical computing)
Employer or university Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Salary range £30k-£40k

How I got into the role

I fully intended to go into medical device development but did one of my training placements in clinical computing and got hooked on the fast changing technology and plentiful supply of interesting challenges.

What I do

My job is all about problem solving. My colleagues and I develop computer technology to improve the way our hospital runs. That could be anything from designing interfaces to allow quicker (but still safe and secure) access to information about our patients to sophisticated behind-the-scenes algorithms for data mining or processing images.

I work with a range of staff including clinicians, nurses and various other technical and non-technical staff. The success of my projects is directly related to how well I work with the people who’ll end up using the technological solution I develop, so it’s important to have good working relationships.

The best bits and challenges

The best part of the job is seeing something I’ve designed to improve the way we run our services deployed in the clinical environment. It can take a long time to see changes implemented which can be very frustrating. 

Life outside work

I always have some sort of project on the go to dig my teeth into, whether that’s DIY or the challenge of learning to play the violin at age 30! And not having access to work email from home is vital for switching off from work. 

Career plans and top tips for others

I am continuously developing my skill set by proactively learning new technologies, something that’s very important in the fast moving world of computing. Our department has strong academic ties with the University of Sheffield and I attend various informatics-related research forums.

I’m passionate about supporting clinical research. It’s only by trialling new drugs and treatments now that we’ll be able to improve healthcare for all in the future.

For a career in clinical science, you need to like a challenge and have a creative mind, be patient and good with people, and be able to multitask too.

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