Case studies

Steph is a Healthcare Scientist Section Leader within Flow Cytometry Lab, Blood Sciences at the RVI

Steph | Healthcare Scientist Section Leader

Flow Cytometry Lab, Blood Sciences

What does your job involve?

Within the flow cytometry lab we receive samples from Newcastle Hospital patients, as well as regional, national and international referral work. There are two aspects of our work; immunodeficiency syndromes and haematological malignancy. Primarily white cells within patient samples are stained to look for markers on the surface; these stains are fluorescent and are detected by the flow cytometer. We then analyse these results and assist in the diagnosis of many conditions, including leukaemia, lymphoma and primary immunodeficiency syndromes such as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID).

What do you love about your job?

Each patient sample is an investigation, beginning with looking at the clinical details and blood film to decide what assays to perform. We then provide flow cytometry data which allows the medical team to make a diagnosis. Working in a multidisciplinary team mean there are always opportunities to learn. I also enjoy the development of new assays, meaning, ensuring we keep up to date with the ever changing diagnostic and treatments regimes.

Proudest moment so far?

Completing the Scientist Training Programme (STP) which will allow me to register as a Clinical Scientist with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Any tips for finding a job that you love?

Don’t be afraid to be a trailblazer! I was the first Blood Sciences sandwich student at the RVI, and then the first Haematology STP student at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It can be challenging but is always exciting and rewarding!

Tell us about any travel and / or unusual aspects of the job

I am the laboratory lead for Harvey’s Gang – an initiative which encourages paediatric patients to visit the lab and find out what happens to their samples! This is extremely rewarding and reminds us of how our work impacts on patient’s lives.

What are your usual working hours?

Monday to Friday 8:30 to 17:00, we also have an on-call rota for weekends and bank holidays.

What training is needed for your job?

I have an IBMS accredited degree in Biomedical Sciences, and an MSc in Clinical Sciences. I have also completed the IBMS Registration Portfolio and Specialist Portfolio, and recently the Scientist Training Programme.

Why should someone come and work in your department?

Working in the laboratory is often fast-paced and challenging, needing an ability to multitask and work effectively both within a team and independently. However we play a role in almost every patient’s journey, providing accurate and timely results to assist in diagnosis and treatment. There are endless opportunities to learn, and improve service for our patients.

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