Posted on Thursday 14th March 2013
Dr Adrian Miller
North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is celebrating the work of some of its unsung heroes as part of Healthcare Science Week, which runs from 15-24 March.
Healthcare science includes dozens of professions, from biomedical scientists and geneticists, to mortuary practitioners and audiologists.
Healthcare Science Week is part of National Science and Engineering Week, run by the British Science Council, and aims to highlight the crucial part these workers play, often behind the scenes, in our modern-day healthcare system.
It also aims to encourage healthcare scientists to spread the word about their careers and encourage young people to consider following the same path.
Dr Adrian Miller is Principal Biochemist at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle – despite having left school at the age of 16 with few qualifications. An invitation from a family friend to look around the pathology lab at his local hospital led him to go back into education aged 22, and from night school he won a place at Manchester University. In the final year of his degree he was offered a PhD, after which he spent some time in industry, but ultimately decided he wanted to work in a hospital setting.
Clinical biochemists carry out complex analytical work, analysing and interpreting data relating to patients' samples to assist with the investigation, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. They develop and implement new techniques, interpret results and liaise with and advise clinical staff.
Adrian said: “The best part of the job is talking to the doctors – helping doctors understand what a patient’s test results mean, helping them to look after the patient. That’s the most rewarding side of the job.”
Adrian, who spends one day a week working at West Cumberland Hospital, is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Ambassador and has been involved in lots of activities over the years to encourage young people to pursue a career in science. He is co-ordinating the Association for Clinical Biochemistry’s input into the Big Bang – the UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair which is taking place in London this week.
Ingar Nugent works at the Cumberland Infirmary as a Biomedical Scientist in Histology. Histology is the study of tissue which includes diagnostics of liver biopsies and skin tissue, and also includes breast screening and bowel cancer screening.
“I have always been interested in science,” said Ingar. “I didn’t plan a career in biomedical science but once I started as a lab assistant I was hooked and wanted to learn more about it. I like that it is a varied role and it is always very busy. It is really interesting and I am always learning new techniques to keep up with developing technology.
“Science is always changing and moving on. I think it’s important to highlight what we do because a lot of people may not be aware. I think a lot of staff have been here a long time because they really love their job and the fact that you know there is a patient at the other end of the sample you are testing, waiting for results, makes the job so worthwhile.”
Also a Biomedical Scientist, Sunny Jankee’s focus is virology and immunology. He graduated in 2007 from Liverpool John Moores University with a BSc Hons in Biomedical Science and moved to Carlisle to work as a trainee biomedical scientist at the Cumberland Infirmary.
“I was a trainee for 18 months and had to do a portfolio to become state registered,” Sunny explained. “I am now doing a specialist portfolio in clinical virology.”
His work in virology focusses on Chlamydia screening for a large geographical area including Morecambe Bay and Preston and work for the sexual health clinics, while in immunology he monitors the progress of patients with immune disorders such as myeloma (white blood cell cancer) and tests for auto-immune disorders. He also works on allergy testing and ante-natal screening.
Sunny added: “I have always wanted to do this – I like working in the lab and I like patient diagnosis. I feel like it’s a worthy job. The sooner we find something, the sooner the patient is diagnosed and treated.”
Ann Farrar, Interim Chief Executive of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Healthcare Science Week is a great opportunity for us to celebrate the amazing work of the healthcare science workforce at North Cumbria University Hospitals. We have a huge team of committed members of staff working away behind the scenes, who are dedicated to helping our patients and improving their outcomes.”
For more information about opportunities in healthcare science visit www.nhscareers.nhs.uk or www.academyforhealthcarescience.co.uk/