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CSO 2017-2018 Fellows

The Chief Scientific Officer’s WISE Fellowship Programme for NHS England fellows 2017-2018

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Dr Lisa Ayers

Clinical Scientist – Immunology, Oxford University Hospital

Having started my career in cancer immunology research, I was keen to apply for a training programme as a clinical scientist in immunology to see how this research could be translated into a clinical setting and benefit patient outcomes. After completing my training I was fortunate to be awarded one of the first CSO NIHR research fellowships which allowed me to undertake a PhD part-time whilst continuing with my clinical career. My career as a clinical academic scientist with the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was further enhanced by an HEE postdoctoral NIHR 3-year research fellowship. My aim has been to integrate an academic role with my clinical responsibilities and to continue my development in my chosen field as a clinical scientist.

I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by inspiring female role models throughout my career who have supported and encouraged my aspirations. I now wish to use this experience to encourage the next generation of healthcare scientists. As part of this I am working as a STEM ambassador,providing support to schools, local career fairs and the Big Science Event.

This fellowship is a great opportunity to learn more about public engagement within healthcare science through the ‘People Like Me’ resources from WISE. I hope to use this in my STEM activities to encourage more young women into the field of healthcare science who may not have previously seen themselves working in this type of role and to raise the profile of healthcare scientists to a larger audience.

I am excited about the opportunities this fellowship offers, including meeting the other WISE fellows, gaining mentorship from outside of my discipline, receiving tailor made training in communication and personal development and the chance to reflect upon my current role.

I had my first child last year and I have experienced many of the challenges faced by healthcare scientists when returning to work. I aim to use this experience throughout the fellowship to support other healthcare scientists with caring responsibilities, both female and male. I hope to encourage others to apply for similar opportunities and to demonstrate that it is possible to have a successful career as a healthcare scientist, as well as maintaining a good work/life balance.

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Dr Michelle Foster

Clinical Scientist – Audiology, Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust

I believe in empowering and working in partnership with families so that we journey together in achieving the highest possible level of care. To this end throughout my career I have delivered outstanding patient care and as my abilities have grown I have been able to establish across the trust inter disciplinary networks to enhance the care we deliver to children and improving the communication and referral pathways. In the wider NHS I have started to help other trusts by developing inter-disciplinary networks to help deliver effective patient outcomes.

I have been in my current role as a Clinical Scientist in Audiology at Sheffield Children’s NHSFT since 2005 and I currently also provide scientific input for South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Prior to this I did a PhD in Diabetes in pregnancy where I loved the investigative research work and the ability to make a difference to patient care and outcomes. The driving force for me retraining in 2003 into Audiology was positive experience I had with patient contact through my PhD and the recognition of my desire to be able to enrich a patients journey. Starting as an Audiological Scientist I built up experience over several years and applied to be registered as a Clinical Scientist; I now have an enviable range of experience in Paediatric Audiology; conduct and interpret advanced audiological testing, write and collaborate on national Audiology protocols and also share my expertise in examining for the National School of Health Care for the scientist trainees. I have also presented at national conferences and this year I assisted on a regional apprenticeship implementation group to trailblaze a pathway for September.

I am enthusiastic, have made positive service developments and deliver exceptional clinical care to all I meet. The CSO WISE fellowship for me is an extremely exciting development which I feel will provide opportunities for me overcome any limitations placed on my current role and to exceed the expectations of those around me. I have had a passion for science since I was a child and I am elated to have this opportunity to inspire other women and girls into science careers and well as believing in themselves. Communication is a fundamental aspect of our humanity and having a hearing loss can be very isolating, disrupting our ability to relate to people on a day to day basis. In recognition of the continued stigma around hearing aids and the associated negative perceptions of hearing services, I will use the fellowship to raise awareness about the importance of good communication and the positive and life affirming role that audiology can play in people’s lives. I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to be mentored by senior leaders as well as attending the Wise Career development programme.

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Zoe Clarke

Environmental Controls Lead, Assistive Technology Clinical Specialist, Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Having graduated from Cardiff University in 2001 with a first class honours degree in Integrated Engineering I was motivated to pursue a career using my engineering skills within Healthcare and so became a State Registered Clinical Scientist. The focus of my career has been on using my skills to enable individuals with severe physical disabilities to achieve independence and an improved quality of life.

I started my career as a Bioengineer in a Gait Analysis Laboratory where I developed an interest in Assistive Technology and quickly progressed my career in this specialism. Two key areas of Electronic Assistive Technology are Environmental Controls and Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

Environmental Control Systems (EC) enable people with significant physical disabilities to have more independent control over their environment, enabling them to call for assistance, control their television, phone, etc. via an alternative access method e.g. a switch or eye-gaze. Our service assesses people for EC systems.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) can be used when an individual has difficulty with spoken communication. AAC covers a range of strategies. Some AAC involves no technology, or paper and some AAC involves technology which can range from ‘low’ and ‘light’ technology to ‘high tech’ voice output communication aids. Our service looks at assessment for more ‘high-tech’ systems including looking at how people will access these.

I am now the Environmental Control Service Lead within the Barnsley Assistive Technology Team which has been commissioned by NHS England as the provider of specialised environmental control and augmentative communication services across Yorkshire and the Humber.

Throughout my career I have also undertaken research work, being involved in a number of projects and publishing in national and international journals. I have been an honorary researcher at the University of Sheffield and Deputy Theme Lead in the NIHR Healthcare Technology Co-operative ‘Devices for Dignity’.      

I am extremely passionate about Electronic Assistive Technology. As well as advocating for the empowering effect it can I have, I also understand the importance of this technology being appropriately developed and provided in order fit the needs of the diverse range of individuals who may potentially use it. I have a specific interest in the use of electronic assistive technology with people with learning disabilities.

I am extremely excited to have been selected for the WISE CSO Fellowship. I feel this is an amazing opportunity to develop skills, promote Assistive Technology and healthcare science in general and develop broader links across the NHS and beyond.

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Dr Joanne Horne

Advanced Practitioner Healthcare Scientist – Histopathology, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

I am an Advanced Practitioner Healthcare Scientist in Cellular Pathology at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. I specialise in specimen dissection and reporting, focusing on gastrointestinal/hepatobiliary histopathology. In 2015, I was awarded a Professional Doctorate in Health Science for my research on improving histopathological colorectal cancer staging.

I am an HCPC registered Biomedical Scientist and IBMS Fellow, with membership of the RCPath, BDIAP and Pathological Society. I began my career as a trainee MLSO in histopathology at Southampton, and am proud to still be a team member twenty years later! I am nearing completion of training in the RCPath/IBMS reporting diploma in gastrointestinal histopathology and am immensely proud to have been part of this programme since its inception as a pilot in 2012. I was the first candidate to pass the stage C FRCPath equivalent level exam in 2015 and since then have been developing my independent practice whilst supporting others undertaking the qualification. Since 2016, I have helped implement a national exam preparation course to support current trainees.

Healthcare scientists are key members of the Cellular Pathology workforce, with education and knowledge to support their medically-trained counterparts in clinical service delivery. To be fit for the future, Cellular Pathology needs to adapt its workforce. Healthcare scientists are an obvious resource, and usually already exist within NHS Cellular Pathology laboratories.

I am thrilled to have been awarded one of the 2017 CSO Fellowships, at a time when I am establishing and developing my clinical and leadership roles. This is an exciting, but challenging time for scientists within Cellular Pathology, where workforce transformation is a key theme. I will use the fellowship to face these challenges, try to overcome them and move forward. I hope to gain training in advanced leadership techniques to help me lead and support colleagues and peers.

The histopathology workforce is changing. Finally there are opportunities for Healthcare Scientists to have an independent clinical career, rather than being seen as the staff group who provide managerial, scientific and technical support to medically qualified pathologists who have traditionally provided the clinical service. However, many problems lie ahead, including acceptance of qualifications, resistance to change and disjointed training. Work is needed to overcome these challenges and to provide clear opportunities for Healthcare Scientists to be an accepted part of the clinical workforce. I will use the fellowship to help address the challenges!

I am passionate about education and training, especially the development of scientific clinical careers within Cellular Pathology. As departmental Education and Training Lead I provide educational and academic supervision to colleagues and students. I also enjoy outreach events, inspiring children, but especially girls, to consider STEM careers. Many girls think that science is for boys, but I am proof that women can excel with hard work and determination. I will use my experience of the Fellowship to develop this role and continue to engage with girls thinking about science careers, but also women at the start of their careers within Healthcare Science, and within Cellular Pathology.

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