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Case study by Gillian Jaggar, the School of Medical Sciences at the University of Bradford


All 2013 and 2014 graduates achieve First Class Honours or 2:1

The first cohort of Healthcare Science (Life Sciences) students from the University of Bradford celebrated their graduation in December 2013. These students were the first to graduate in the UK as part of the Modernising Scientific Careers Practitioner Training programme in Genetics. The Healthcare Science (Life Sciences) degree programmes at Bradford are approved by Health Education England and the HCPC and accredited by the IBMS. Graduating students from these programmes are eligible for HCPC registration as Biomedical Scientists immediately after graduation, as they have successfully completed the IBMS portfolio of competence. In September 2010, three students applied and were selected to transfer from the first year of the Biomedical Science degree to the brand new Genetics specialism of the Healthcare Science degree. This integrated degree includes a hospital laboratory placement within each of the 3 years of study, in place of the 1 year placement that was traditionally offered for the Applied Biomedical Science degree students.

The Healthcare Science (Life Sciences) (Genetics) programme was chosen by the University as the first of the Life Science specialisms, to be delivered from 2010 onwards. The curriculum for the Healthcare Science Genetics programme was developed in 2010 the University of Bradford historically has close links with local Pathology laboratories through our placement coordinator. Students studying on the Applied Biomedical Science degree have successfully completed work placements in the local Pathology laboratories for many years. Consequently, we already had in place excellent links with our local NHS laboratories to facilitate the new placement structure. Therefore, the University of Bradford became an early adopter of the Healthcare Science Genetics PTP degree.

The clinical tutors in the Pathology laboratories previously trained the Applied Biomedical Science students and had long standing experience of the IBMS registration portfolio and the requirements for HCPC registration. These placement providers worked closely with the University to implement the Healthcare Science (Life Sciences) degrees. However it was new to the University to provide student placements within the Genetics Service. Following detailed negotiations, explanations and reassurances from the placement coordinator to laboratory managers and training officers, Genetics laboratories in Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham were keen to support the new programme.

The Genetics laboratories had previous experience with the Scientist Training Programme and the PTP pilot but this was the first time that students currently studying on a PTP programme at undergraduate level had been trained in their laboratories. The laboratories were familiar with the Modernising Scientific Careers training manual but had very little, if any experience of the IBMS registration portfolio and verification, so knew it would be a steep learning curve. In order to overcome this, the university held mandatory training sessions for those involved in educating the students in the workplace. It was a success and some genetics training officers carried out further training to become qualified verifiers themselves. The placement coordinator continued to support the newly trained staff by making several visits to the workplace to support and offer guidance in the completion of the IBMS portfolio and assessment of competency, which was invaluable. The laboratory staff and students really engaged with the portfolio work and whilst it seemed a little daunting at the start, there was a real sense of achievement by the end of the process.

The students also completed a significant piece of research in the workplace which involved a lot of input from the training laboratory. Students are supported by the University throughout this period but they also require guidance from the workplace. The University is involved from the start and clinical tutors and students are invited to attend training events at the University. It can sometimes be difficult to find a project which meets both the needs of the placement laboratory and the academic standards set by the University and the degree programme learning outcomes. However the laboratories were superb. They produced excellent ideas and provided project supervisors with relevant experience in the research process. All of the Healthcare Science Genetics research projects were excellent and the students’ academic results were outstanding. The workload for training laboratories is high to support the Healthcare Science students throughout their placements with work-based learning assignments and a research project, but the staff rose to the challenge. They were committed and professional throughout and the students and the University value their hard work, without which the programme would not have achieved success.

From the early days in 2010, the Healthcare Science Genetics programme has proved to be a great success, culminating in the students achieving outstanding results. From our first cohort of three students, two students achieved a first class and one an upper second class honours degree in 2013.

We now have our second cohort of HCS students graduating. Three on the Blood Science pathway, with two achieving first class honors and one a 2.1 honours degree. The 2014 genetics pathway graduate achieved an upper second class honours.

The School of Medical Sciences at the University of Bradford wishes them the very best for their future career and looks forward to continuing success of the programme in the years to come.

 

Samantha Thorn - BSc (Hons) Healthcare Science - First Class (Hons) graduate 2013

This case study was provided by Manchester Metropolitan University


The 22-year-old who graduated in 2013 with a First in Healthcare Science (Cardiac Physiology) landed a clinical post at the University Hospital of South Manchester.

Samantha was presented with a “Rising Star for Physiological Sciences” Award at the NHS Healthcare Science National Awards by the Chief Scientific Officer for England, Professor Sue Hill OBE.

Dr Nicola Hughes, Programme Leader in the School of Healthcare Science, said: “This is a fantastic achievement by one of our stars of the ‘Class of 2013’. Samantha did outstandingly well academically but also took full advantage of her hospital placement with us to show her ability and enthusiasm and is quickly on her way to becoming a top healthcare professional.” 

Six month hospital placement

The young physiologist from Buckinghamshire, who completed a six-month placement at UHSM while an undergraduate was nominated for her work on the Trainees Network Board which supports and develops trainees across the North West, notably organising key ‘career’ events with VIP speakers from across the profession.

Sam has put particular emphasis on developing her leadership skills and recently attended a leadership programme for healthcare science trainees. She is also an NHS STEM Ambassador, going to schools to talk to A level students about careers in the healthcare scientist profession. She says MMU was the perfect place for both academic and career support and says it is important that a University course not only qualifies you but makes you feel a professional.

“The thought of starting a degree at university was daunting, but any fears were soon overcome by the friendly and welcoming MMU staff."

Best of university and NHS

“It’s a modern degree which underpins all aspects within three years and gets you into a career sooner. It’s a hands-on, clinical-based degree and MMU and UHSM collaborated to provide the best education and teaching diversity. Incorporation of placement time meant that you can put skills learnt on specialist training into practice within a hospital environment. Further rotation of placements within different departments in various hospitals each year allowed us as students to experience."

Andrea Geere - BSc (Hons) Healthcare Science - Infection Science -  First Class (Hons) graduate 2014

This case study is provided by the University of Portsmouth.


What is your overall experience of the healthcare science course that you studied? What are the particular benefits or challenges you faced?

The HCS course at Portsmouth really lived up to my expectations. Being part of the very first cohort to graduate with the new style degree, I anticipated that a few changes to the course structure might occur along the way. However, I thought the course was both planned and executed well, and I thoroughly enjoyed all three years of my studies. The lectures and laboratory sessions at the university were all very interesting and relevant to the degree, and the lecturers themselves were all highly knowledgeable in their respective fields, and were always available to provide feedback on work and give additional guidance when needed.

In my eyes the most attractive part of the HCS course was the integrated placement opportunity. Although it was demanding in terms of juggling both university work and the professional component of the degree, it was an integral part of what made this course so valuable, and was an excellent way of acquiring good time management skills. The placement opportunity not only provided me with solid industry experience, but also allowed me to complete my Practitioner Training Programme, which allowed me to leave university with the ability to immediately apply for state registration as a Biomedical Scientist which was exactly what I was looking for from my degree course. Having the ability to work in an NHS laboratory each week not only helped me to acquire and perfect the technical and transferrable skills needed to prepare me for employment, but also enabled me to gain first hand clinical knowledge for my chosen specialism, as well as consolidate the theoretical knowledge provided by the university lectures.

A major highlight of the course was being able to conduct my final year research project in my training laboratory. The knowledge that the findings from my evaluation could have possibly impacted the way the laboratory carried out one of its protocols was highly motivating. Another great opportunity provided by the course were the patient facing experiences that were a part of the placement timetable, which allowed me to visit patients by participating in various clinics and ward rounds. Having the use of a simulation laboratory at the university and participating in practicals before going out on placement was really beneficial for preparing us for various scenarios in a controlled environment, before we experienced them ourselves in the hospital.

Was this the right choice of degree to meet your career goals. How well did the course prepare you for employment?

I chose to study for a degree with the sole aim of graduating and becoming a Biomedical Scientist, in order to combine both my interest of science alongside being able to help and provide good care to patients. This course enabled me to do just that, by allowing me to work towards achieving my state registration by completing the Practitioner Training Programme, whilst studying for my BSc at the same time.

In terms of preparing me for employment, the course could not have been better. It equipped me with both the technical and theoretical knowledge needed in order to develop from a novice into a graduate that would be employed as a confident Biomedical Scientist, and having the integrated placement component also allowed for a seamless transition from academia into a full time working environment. Also, the patient facing experiences whilst on placement helped to prepare me for the possible changing role of the Biomedical Scientist, and even though at the moment the role is very much behind the scenes, whilst working in a hospital you still encounter and interact with patients daily.

What are your reflections on your patient facing experiences? Did these add value to your programme?

The patient facing opportunities that were included over the three years really helped to develop a well-rounded understanding of the role of the Biomedical Scientist as a part of the multi-disciplinary healthcare team that provides care to patients. As part of the non-clinical staff, Biomedical Scientists rarely see patients, so enabling students to participate in ward rounds and work alongside other healthcare professionals was invaluable in raising awareness not only of the importance of role of the Biomedical Scientist, but also in remembering that at the end of every sample received is a patient that requires the best service possible.

I was able to participate in a combination of different ward rounds, clinics, as well as attend a multi-disciplinary team meeting. Each of these enabled me to develop my understanding of how patients are managed outside of the laboratory, and also to establish a link between pathology and the other departments within the hospital. These visits emphasised to me how necessary and important it is to combine laboratory results alongside tending to the patient directly, in order to treat the whole patient, and thus ensuring the patient is provided with the best care.

Would you recommend your healthcare science programme to prospective students?

Most definitely. If they are interested in the pathology of disease, and want to understand and experience first-hand how this this is investigated in a clinical environment, then this is the course for them. Furthermore, this course not only has two predefined career paths within the NHS that can either lead to becoming a registered Biomedical Scientist or Clinical Scientist, but also opens up many other avenues due to the scientific knowledge, and technical and transferrable skills that are obtained during your studies.

How do you think the healthcare science degree can be better promoted?

I think having graduate BMS’ that have taken the course attending careers events at schools and colleges, and participating in university open days would allow them to engage directly with prospective students would help give a better insight to students what the course is like.

Are you now employed? If yes, state grade, title and place/department of employment.

Biomedical Scientist, Band 5, Immunology – Ashford & St Peter’s NHS Foundation Trust.

How many interviews did you attend before being offered this job opportunity?

I attended only this interview, but was invited to interview for four posts.

Are you now following a career in healthcare science? Is this in your placement department and/or specialism?

Yes. This is not within my placement laboratory or specialism.

Please comment on your experience in employment so far.

I began taking a real interest in immunology in my second year, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work in this field. However, having moved to a different specialism has been a steep learning curve, but I am really enjoying learning a new discipline and expanding my biomedical repertoire. It was always slightly daunting the thought of running my own bench by myself, but having been doing this for a month now I have realised that there really was not anything to worry about, and I am looking forward to moving round the rest of sections in the laboratory soon.

What are your long term career ambitions?

I am about to start work on my Specialist Portfolio, so over the next couple of years I aim to have accomplished that and then move on to studying for my MSc and take on more responsibility in the laboratory. I have also considered applying for the STP programme once I have completed a few years in industry first, and maybe move into more of a clinical research role.

Philippa D'Arcy-Grover - BSc (Hons) Healthcare Science - First Class (Hons) graduate 2014

This case study is provided by the University of Portsmouth.


What is your overall experience of the healthcare science course that you studied? What are the particular benefits or challenges you faced?

Overall I really enjoyed the Healthcare Science course at Portsmouth. I did find the work load challenging at times as I had to complete most of my university work in the evenings after university /placement. However, I generally enjoyed completing my assignments for the course, particularly those relevant to Microbiology. I found the placement a bit overwhelming in the beginning of the 1st year and felt that I was sometimes performing tasks that I didn't necessarily have the background knowledge for. However in the second and third years of the course I felt that placement and university complemented each other well. I believe that I wouldn't have done as well in the general units if I hadn't been on the placement.

Was this the right choice of degree to meet your career goals. How well did the course prepare you for employment?

I am very glad that I decided to study in the Healthcare Science course at Portsmouth because I feel that I got a lot more out of it than I would have from studying the Biomedical Science course. There is the Microbiology / Biomedical Science specific skills and knowledge that I gained but it has also prepared me for employment as I am used to the working environment of an NHS laboratory. If I had chosen to study on the Biomedical Science course I would still need to complete my generic portfolio to be able to work as a Band 5 Biomedical Scientist which would have to be completed in my own time and could take as much as 2 years. Having completed it at university, not only means that I can apply for band 5 posts straight away but that I was able to gain an academic mark for my generic portfolio.

What are your reflections on the placement/workplace programme. What were the particular benefits or disadvantages?

There were times when I found the placement challenging, as mentioned in the 1st year where I think I was sometimes out of my depth and there was a general struggle to find time to complete university assignments. However I think that the benefits were certainly worth the hard work. I don't think I would have gotten my job as an Associate Practitioner and then the Biomedical Scientist job if I hadn't been on placement.

What are your reflections on your patient facing experiences? Did these add value to your programme?

In the first and second year I found attendance on ward rounds slightly distressing and would feel rather clueless and useless when visiting patients. However I really enjoyed my patient facing experiences in the third year. I spent some time with one of the Microbiology consultants and the Infection Control team and visited patients that I had actually carried out the laboratory investigations on. I think I found it more enjoyable and worthwhile because I had an understanding of the patient conditions (mainly Clostridium difficile infection) and actually understood what was going on. These visits really highlighted how vital the work I do in the laboratory is and it was extremely rewarding to directly contribute to the care of a specific patient and see members of staff taking action on results that I had generated and reported.

Are there any particular anecdotal or emotional experiences that you would like to describe?

It was rewarding to hear from the laboratory staff when I finish placement of how important they all felt my role was within the laboratory and how much I was relied on within the team.

Would you recommend your healthcare science programme to prospective students?

If you want to work as Biomedical Scientist in an NHS laboratory then most definitely. The course just sets you up perfectly to do this.

How do you think the healthcare science degree can be better promoted?

Having helped out at several open days at the university I think the name of the course certainly puts people off and they dismiss it before they have even heard anything about it. I also find it surprising how many perspective students don't really even know what Biomedical Science is and what a Biomedical Scientists role is in the NHS. I have been involved with planning events for National Pathology Week at Queen Alexandra Hospital and feel that it is a good occasion to spread awareness of Biomedical Science and the Healthcare Science course.

Are you now employed? If yes, state grade, title and place/department of employment.

I am currently employed as an Associate Practitioner (NHS band 4) in the Microbiology laboratory at Queen Alexandra Hospital Portsmouth NHS trust and have been working there since June. I will be starting as a Biomedical Scientist (NHS band 5) in the same laboratory in October.

How many interviews did you attend before being offered this job opportunity?

I was interviewed for the Associate Practitioner post in April and started two weeks after finishing University. A band 5 Practitioner Biomedical Scientist was advertised in July and I was interviewed for the position in late August. These are the only two interviews that I have had.

Are you now following a career in healthcare science? Is this in your placement department and/or specialism?

Yes I am currently working as a band 4 Associate Practitioner and will be starting as a band 5 Biomedical Scientist in October in the laboratory where I completed my placement.

Please comment on your experience in employment so far.

I have enjoyed working full time, although I do miss doing academic assignments. However, I am planning on completing my specialist portfolio in the near future. I think I would have found full time employment challenging and draining if I hadn't been on placement.

What are your long term career ambitions?

Long term I would like to lecture at a university and carry out academic research. However I'm planning on working for the NHS for the foreseeable future.

Observed Clinical Events (OCE) provide an opportunity for you to demonstrate an understanding of how your specialism interfaces with patients. For the physiological sciences choosing a patient focused event will be straightforward as there is plenty of patient engagement. For the other specialisms there are opportunities for demonstrating patient interaction or the understanding of patient pathways and the table below shows some examples of what past trainees have done from each division; please note these are intended as guidance examples only. 

If you have an OCE example you would like to add to the table below, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Skills to assess within each division

  1. History taking: e.g. what test/procedure is the patient having. Obtain relevant information for the test eg. in an anticoagulation clinic ask relevant questions that may affect the end result.
  2. Physical/Clinical examination skills: e.g. for Life Sciences - phlebotomy how to find a suitable vein; practice safe hygiene - handwashing before touching a patient; obtaining patient consent to touch them.
  3. Communication skills: e.g. inform patient/carer of procedures using appropriate language.
  4. Clinical judgement: e.g. is the procedure correct for the required outcome.
  5. Professionalism: e.g. introduction of clinician/set appointment time/goals/answer any relevant patient concerns within level of understanding - refer when answer is unknown.
  6. Organisation and efficiency: keeping to time and ensuring accurate recording of results.
  7. Overall clinical care: does the student show empathy and compassion, patient focus and dignity.
  8. Scientific judgement: e.g. is the equipment correct for the required outcome. Has it been correctly calibrated and any necessary settings correctly applied.

 

Example where assessment for an Observed Clinical Event may be appropriate

These examples are for guidance purposes only, to outline what might be undertaken as an OCE within each division.

Life Sciences 

Working/observing in an anti-coagulation clinic.

Attend a phlebotomy clinic

Observe effective communication skills, adapting communication style and language to meet the needs of the listener.

Explain the procedure for diagnostic or treatment procedures e.g. a 24 urine collection.

Inform the patient of the procedure for notification of the results.

Where possible observe or undertake point of care testing e.g. for blood sciences

  • INR
  • Haemoglobin (Hb)
  • ESR
  • Glucose testing
  • HbA1c
  • Blood gas analysis
  • Attend a glucose tolerance procedure

Obtain a suitably completed request form, greet the patient and check patient ID and recent clinical history for patients referred for relevant test.

Discuss the procedure with the patient.

Attend a diagnostic or sampling procedure e.g:

  • Being present during allergy testing
  • Being present during a bone marrow aspiration
  • Being present during a fine needle aspiration
  • Attend a GUM clinic
  • Attend a selective venous sampling and observing or performing the measurement of e.g. PTH during the procedure.
  • Attend a complex dynamic function test e.g. pituitary stress test

Provide test results by telephone to other healthcare professionals.

Perform an external quality assessment (EQA) on a piece of equipment e.g. a blood gas analyser.

Explain the findings seen on an electrophoretic strip/chromatogram to clinical colleagues.

Deal with a clinical query to the laboratory.

Attend a MDT meeting.

Work constructively and effectively as a member of a multidisciplinary team.

Cardiac Physiology

Observe effective communication skills, adapting communication style and language to meet the needs of the listener when undertaking electrocardiography.

Explain electrocardiograhpy to the patient and gain informed consent. Explain the procedure for BP measurement to the patient and gain informed consent. Demonstrate how you apply control of infection procedures when measuring blood pressure (BP). For provocative ECG under supervision review the clinical history of the patient for suitability to perform the test, explain the procedure to the patient and gain their consent.
Respiratory and Sleep Physiology

Obtain a suitably completed request form, greet the patient and check patient ID and recent clinical history for patients referred for spirometry.

Explain the procedure for static lung volumes. Gain informed consent for the administration of bronchodilators. Inform the patient of the procedure for notification of the results. Identify and act on any special requirements of the patient when undergoing gas transfer and oxygen saturation measurement and, if necessary, discuss with senior staff and carers.
Audiology

Use effective communication skills within the healthcare environment, adapting communication style and language to meet the needs of the listener.

Explain the procedure to the patient and gain informed consent. Decide and agree a management plan with the patient. Put the patient at ease and build rapport at the beginning of the session and use 'problem-oriented medical questioning' to obtain a patient history. Use a variety of questioning techniques in a logical sequence with active listening, clarify any misunderstandings in the patient history and assimilate and ensure understanding, and give appropriate feedback to patient.
Ophthalmic and Vision

Establish a professional relationship with the patient, identifying and addressing any special needs, analysing patient needs and maintaining patient confidentiality.

Use effective communication skills within the healthcare environment, adapting communication style and language to meet the needs of the patient. Explain the procedure to the patient and gain informed consent. Position and align the patient correctly and measure refractive error for distance with an autorefractor. Confirm the patient's understanding of the procedure and requirements for compliance, identifying any cultural and special needs that may influence performance of the test.
Neurophysiology

Use effective communication skills within the healthcare environment, adapting communication style and language to meet the needs of the patient.

Explain the procedure to the patient and gain informed consent. Assist the patient to reach a position that is comfortable and which optimises the quality of the recording. Explain the EEG procedure to the patient. When assisting in recording adult evoked potentials, give the patient clear instructions.
Medical Physics

Work constructively and effectively as a member of a multidisciplinary team.

Explain the procedure for diagnostic or treatment procedures.

Scheduling appointments and liaison with patients, medical physics and other healthcare colleagues.

Obtain a suitably completed request form, greet the patient and check patient ID and recent clinical history for relevant specialism.

Nuclear medicine example
Treat patients referred to nuclear medicine in a way that respects their dignity, rights, privacy and confidentiality while undertaking nuclear medicine investigations.

Discussion with health professionals in the event of a radiation incident.

Interactions in a clinical environment e.g. performing radiation equipment calibration and equipment quality assurance/control processes.

Radiotherapy Physics examples
Prepare the patient according to the radiotherapy request form, explaining the process and answering questions.

Position the patient appropriate to the procedure and take relevant measurements and impressions.

Discussions with patients regarding radiation safety procedures.

Clinical Engineering Equipment repair Arranging PPM schedules with the ward/department. Liaison with clinical staff to arrange rental and loan equipment. Discussions with health professionals in the event of a medical equipment incident.

Interactions in a clinical environment e.g. performing critical care equipment calibration and equipment quality assurance/control processes.

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