You booked your appointment, gave blood, munched some biscuits, and saved or improved the lives of up to three people. However, whose job is it to make sure that magic actually happens?
When you come to give blood, chances are you’ll make contact with many people who work for the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) along the way - whether that’s the person on the other end of the phone when you book your appointment; the friendly face to welcome you to the session; the venepuncturist who collects your donation; or the Donor Carer who serves your cuppa and biscuit afterwards.
What you might not have thought about is the journey your donation takes once you’ve gone back to your normal routine. As today, Thursday 19th July 2018, is Biomedical Science Day, it’s the perfect time to have a blether with our colleagues working within the SNBTS laboratories, and find out why they enjoy their work as biomedical scientists (BMS).
Laura Boyle, Biomedical Scientist, Edinburgh
Laura has worked for SNBTS for over 18 years.
"I started working for the SNBTS when I was a teenager as and like many teenagers I wasn’t that interested in studying. I had always had an interest in science and health care but would never at that time have considered myself to have been academic enough to gain the qualifications needed to be a BMS.
"After around ten years working with SNBTS, I had really come to enjoy my job but felt I had become stagnant in my role as a medical laboratory assistant. I was encouraged by my family and colleagues to look into a pathway that would allow me to gain qualifications to build a career in biomedical science. Both my parents had worked for SNBTS in processing and testing and were very supportive and helpful to me in making this decision. I studied part time for eight years to gain my qualifications and am very proud of my achievement - something I’d never thought I was capable of. I’m now studying towards my ‘specialist certificate in transfusion science practice."
Wendy Callan, Healthcare Scientist Professional Manager, Inverness
Wendy has worked for SNBTS for eight years.
"I decided to work in biomedical science because I wanted to use my favourite subjects at school to help patients.
"I’m now a manager, so I don’t spend as much time in the laboratory anymore, however I use my specialist transfusion knowledge to develop procedures for my department and the other blood banks in Scotland. This allows improvements in accuracy and speed which ultimately benefits the patients.
"It is great the Biomedical Science Day is raising the profile and celebrating the work of Biomedical Scientists. As part of the celebrations, we have a promotional public information stand in Raigmore Hospital’s main corridor on the 19th July. We are also inviting members of the public to attend an open evening on the 25th July. This will include a tour of our lab in Inverness. We’d love to welcome you. Please visit our Facebook event page for more information."
Erin Stuart, Biomedical Scientist, Aberdeen
Erin has worked for SNBTS for just under eight years.
"I always enjoyed science at school and decided science was the route I wanted to go down at University. I applied for the Applied Biomedical Science course at Robert Gordon University and was accepted. I wasn’t sure what the course involved, but it opened my eyes to the laboratory work that happens in a hospital. I had placements at Inverness and really enjoyed the blood transfusion service, and I knew I wanted to work in blood transfusion laboratory.
"My tip to anyone who wishes to work in the field of biomedical science is to visit the different laboratories if you can. It helped me choose which lab I preferred. I thought I would like microbiology but after having placement there, I found it wasn’t for me!"
Graeme Trinder, Biomedical Scientist, Aberdeen
Graeme has worked with SNBTS since June 2016.
"Routinely my job involves the ABO grouping and antibody screening of blood samples from Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Aberdeenshire, as well as the provision of blood products to patients that need them. Further jobs include antibody identification, antenatal investigations, and batch acceptance of reagents (quality control on new cells and various other materials).
"I really enjoy working with our team, and my words of encouragement to anyone are to persevere. It’s not always an easy journey to become a BMS but ultimately the destination is worth it."
Robyn Thomson, Biomedical Scientist, Aberdeen
Robyn has worked with SNBTS for three years.
"My role as a BMS is interesting but it can be stressful at times. However, knowing patient’s lives are being saved is very satisfying. The job itself has the same routine but by working in the blood bank, each day is different which makes it exciting."
Christy Thomson, Biomedical Scientist, Aberdeen
Christy has worked with SNBTS for three years.
"I enjoyed science at school and wanted to pursue a career using these skills, and biomedical science provided me the opportunity to do this. If you’re interested in becoming a BMS try and go the placement route, if not as a job then as a lab assistant as its a great opportunity to progress."
Namdip Kaur, Biomedical Scientist, Glasgow
Namdip has worked for SNBTS for four years.
"Admiration of the NHS and science is what led me to a career as a BMS. The complex investigations keep the role interesting for me and I also like managing all the equipment – I love my job. For anyone looking for a similar role I would recommend to work hard to get a practice placement. It will help loads on your career path."
Stephen Corbishley, Biomedical Scientist, Dundee
Stephen has worked for SNBTS for nearly three years.
"I previously worked as a research scientist but wanted to change to a clinical laboratory.
"I particularly enjoy antibody investigation and identification. I find the job as a whole quite rewarding, and I have had the opportunity to work on several national projects to improve the service."
"My role involves checking for red cell antibodies in blood and finding the best possible match. This means selecting donor’s blood to patients who need transfusion for haematological conditions, anaemia post chemotherapy, childbirth, traumatic accidents and other events.
"Urgent blood requests such as massive haemorrhage activation or a 'Code Red' give you an adrenaline rush. You have to get blood products out fast, but remain vigilant and not make a mistake as you always have in mind that a patient’s life is at stake."
Tania Milne, Biomedical Scientist, Dundee
Tania has worked for SNBTS for three years.
"I became a BMS because I thought science was interesting and I loved SNBTS when I attended during a uni visit. I was sold.
"To anyone interested in biomedical science my advice would be to make sure you choose and accredited degree, participate in your student placement - and enjoy."
Lesley Macdonald, Biomedical Scientist 2, Dundee
Lesley has worked for SNBTS for over 14 years.
"One of the most interesting situations in my work as a BMS is when there is an emergency (what we call a 'bleeder'). After rushing about and getting components to the patient, you know you have helped save their life, even if it is only a small part of a huge process.
"If you like science and like to help people, you can make a difference working for SNBTS."