Written by Annabel Scott
BSc (Hons) Archaeological & Forensic Sciences
Getting a placement can seem easy for some and difficult for others. Its often best to apply for several in the area you wish to go to. If people are not showing a placement opportunity, contact them directly. Some companies will be impressed that you want to do a placement with them. Use your own contacts, your family or friends may know people that can help, or suggest places you never thought of.
My short term placement, of 5 weeks, was carried out in a pathology lab within an NHS hospital. I fortunately was privy to the working aspects of the lab and was provided with a further understanding of the various roles within the department.
I was allowed access to and work within six different departments. This included the Specimen Reception, Biochemistry, Haematology, Blood Transfusion, the Point of Care Team (POCT) and Specimen Handling for medical staff. The Specimen Reception receives, catalogues and spins the necessary samples and directs them to the specific laboratory section that it requires. I improved my lab work with sample handling and using necessary equipment including the sampling analysers including; auto photometer analysers (a more complex version of a colorimeter), and a direct chemiluminescent with magnetic separation analyser. POCT consisted of presumptive tests including blood group analysis and Haematology for full blood counts.
Whilst there, other topics were covered along with quality control, dilution of QCs and running samples on the machines.
Throughout my placement, I tried to gain as much experience as I could, from as many people as possible. In my opinion, this is the whole purpose of a placement. To improve your skills, and to determine whether what you have a placement in is linked to what you want to do in your future. Be that the same thing as your placement or learning that you want nothing to do with it. The choice in the end is still yours.
For me my placement provided me with some of the experience I would need to work in a professional lab and confirmed to me that it is the environment in which I would prefer to work, and if possible in a form of forensic work. It helped to improve my confidence in my lab skills due to my colleague’s knowledge and learning everything I possibly could from them and my time at the hospital. It has also helped in gaining as much as possible from all opportunities provided to me.
Thanks for reading