Real-life story - Jayne Johnson
Jayne had always wanted to work in a laboratory and decided to study pharmacology at the University of Bath after leaving school. Towards the end of her degree the careers department told Jayne about the role of clinical scientist in the NHS (now called the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP)).
How I got into the role
After researching the job in detail I decided I would apply. The most interesting part of the training was learning about histocompatibility and immunogenetics. I started training in 2000 and haven’t looked back.
What I do
A typical day for me involves authorising laboratory results and making sure that the appropriate clinical comments have been added to the reports. We also answer numerous enquiries from doctors as we are the national granulocyte and platelet laboratory for England.
Our laboratory is one of six in our trust that provides an extensive range of services to assist with the diagnosis and treatment of various medical conditions. These include the testing needed for stem cell transplantation and for blood transfusions. We also provide clinical advice for doctors, for example during donor selection for transplantation.
As I’m quality manager I also ensure that our change management system is kept up to date and that the department is working to all our accreditation standards. Part of my job also involves making sure we keep up with the latest technologies and that everyone is up to date with any necessary training for their roles.
A common myth is that we spend our day looking down a microscope, but this is not the case!
The best bits and challenges
The most rewarding part of the job for me is knowing I have made a difference to patients’ treatments and have given clinicians all the relevant information they need.
My main challenge is ensuring that our department adheres to the ever-changing standards in this profession.
Life outside work
I have many interests from reading to going to the gym. They help me relax and they are important in making me feel good - otherwise work could take over.
Reflecting on the day is an important process for me during my drive home but then I switch off and focus on my personal life. I always ensure that with all the professional development and study I do I still have ‘me time’ to unwind.
Career plans and top tips for others
My previous employer supported me through the British Society for Histocompatibilty and Immunogenetics Diploma (BSHI) as well as an MSc in Transfusion and Transplantation which I’m very proud of achieving.
I’ve also been supported to achieve the Royal College of Pathcology (RCPATH) Part 1 exams. This is definitely my proudest achievement as I have never done so much work for anything and I passed first time! I’m also now part of the Higher Specialist Scientist Training (HSST) programme and am working towards achieving a doctorate in clinical science. This leads to appointment as a consultant clinical scientist.
I’ve been very fortunate to have received support at work to develop personally and professionally.
This definitely isn’t a 9 to 5 job so it’s important to be adaptable. Research this career option very carefully as you will need to make big commitment to succeed. And you need to be well-organised, efficient and self-confident.