Testing and NHS laboratories have never had a higher profile than they do now. In our latest blog Trainee Biomedical Scientist Dionne Jacques tells us a bit more about her role.
When people think of labs or pathology they often go straight to TV shows like Silent Witness or CSI, but in fact these services are a vital part of modern healthcare with lab testing involved in more than 70% of all diagnoses made by the NHS.
Since the outbreak of Covid19 more and more people are taking an interest in this type of work or even thinking about making it their career.
After studying for a degree in Biomedical Science in Manchester, I first considered a career in the private sector. However, after visiting an NHS laboratory, I became really motivated by the idea of patient care.
I first applied for a Medical Laboratory Assistant role in Microbiology at Northumbria and this was the start of my journey with the trust.
This service is responsible for the diagnosis of bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections which can be potentially life-threatening. These include conditions such as meningitis, sepsis and respiratory infections including Covid-19.
Our typical day also includes more routine work from GP practices and sexual health screening. We support clinical decisions by profiling the antibiotic sensitivities of particular organisms, which impacts course of treatment for patients.
For me personally the Covid-19 pandemic meant a change of role because I was seconded to the post of Associate Practitioner in the laboratory. This gave me some extra responsibilities and I was trained on the specific tests we use on Covid19 samples.
While this is of course a very difficult time our team has really adapted to change every day – sometimes every hour!
There was a lot of planning and organisation around obtaining reagents and kits for testing, transporting samples from the emergency care hospital in Cramlington as well as remote sites, prioritising urgent tests and ensuring turn around times were up to scratch.
We also took work from other organisations at times when they had issues with their analysers and care homes when they were experiencing outbreaks of Covid19.
This experience was overwhelming at times but it made me learn new skills and improve existing ones almost overnight as the objectives and priorities of the department shifted.
I am now a Trainee Biomedical Scientist and so far I am really enjoying using the knowledge from my degree to interpret test results. It feels rewarding to contribute to delivering high quality care for patient’s across the region.
While we’re all working constantly to help the public during the pandemic it’s really important that you help us by following the latest guidance, respecting social distancing, washing your hands and wearing a face covering where necessary.