Using the lab skills gained during my PhD for a clinical career

NHS Scientist Training Programme
Dr Emily Halford
PGR Careers Case Study

Emily Halford

Introduce yourself by providing information about your research and current role

I have recently submitted my thesis (Immunology) and am on the NHS scientist training programme. This three year programme runs all over the country, and produces clinical scientists in a range of specialisms. I am based in the NHS Blood and Transplant department on Vincent Drive, and my specialism is histocompatibility (organ & stem cell transplantation).

How has your PhD prepared you and given you relevant transferable skills for your current role?

As a trainee clinical scientist in Histocompatibility I will do quite a lot of lab work, and therefore I will utilise the lab skills gained during my PhD. My research skills will also be utilised as clinical scientists undertake research and service development, and are also expected to keep up to date with recent literature. I think that the key transferable skills gained during my PhD are time management and self motivation, particularly as the training programme consists of both workplace and academic training, and there is often a lot to think about at once.

Was it always your goal to pursue a career outside of academia? If not, at what stage of your PhD journey did you decide not to build an academic career?

I heard about the clinical scientist programme during my masters degree and gained a weeks work experience in an NHS clinical lab. I went in to my PhD with an open mind as to future career plans but realised after around two years that despite enjoying my PhD I was more interested in a clinical career.

What support have you had to help you make the move from your PhD to your job? For example from Careers Network, mentors and academics?

Careers Network ran a series of events for students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) including application checking sessions, which I attended. My PhD supervisor also put me in touch with a clinical scientist in Birmingham who I could talk to about the career.

Please add any tips or advice for researchers considering a career outside of academia

It is a good idea to talk to people who are in the professions you are interested in and to try to gain work experience. I spent a week in an NHS laboratory in Surrey and met with clinical scientists and a trainee from Birmingham.

Please invite your employer to add any relevant information about job opportunities for PhDs with their company

Applications for the scientist training programme open in January every year. The specialisms are grouped into four divisions: life sciences, physiological sciences, informatics and physical sciences/biomedical engineering. See the NHS website for more information.

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