A message from IBMS President Allan Wilson
I am so honoured to become President of the professional body for all those working in biomedical science. Knowing that we have a 20,000 strong, vibrant network of biomedical scientists linked through our Institute, dedicated to supporting healthcare and service users makes me immensely proud.
I started my career as a trainee straight from school in 1976 and have spent 43 years working in laboratories around the world. I trained in Glasgow and that’s where I got my Fellowship. I was lucky enough to work in New Zealand for four years and returned to Edinburgh for two years after that. I’ve been based at Monklands Hospital since 1988.
My day job is Lead Biomedical Scientist in Cellular Pathology and my area of expertise is cytology. I have worked as a Consultant Biomedical Scientist in cervical cytology since 2002. Working in cytology allows me to work with a broad range of healthcare workers including clinicians and nurses, public health, gynaecology, communications and other screening professionals. I also have many years of attending Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) clinics and gained valuable experience of working with patients and clinical staff. My many years of working in cervical cytology has stimulated an interest and passion for population screening, this is a fascinating area and recent advances in molecular and genetic testing will revolutionise and challenge current practice.
I have worked in senior level management for twenty five years, and I am a cellular pathology network manager and cervical cytology consortium manager for Scotland. I have also been privileged enough to lecture across Europe, as well as Africa and New Zealand. I get a flavour of what happens in the healthcare settings outside of the UK and have seen how many of these places handle healthcare and laboratory services. Thanks to my overseas experience and knowledge of different sectors, I bring a unique perspective to our profession as IBMS President.
I have seen the impact of what we do. Biomedical scientists are at the forefront of medical research and analysis, yet we are what I call a ‘black box’ for too many people. When you consider who delivers that service to patients, there is far too little public recognition of who we are and what we do. As your IBMS President, I want to help change that. Laboratory staff play a vital role in patients’ healthcare and I want to help our members gain the positive public recognition they deserve.
The main challenge I foresee is to demonstrate that advanced practice matters -- to patients, to the NHS and to healthcare as a whole. I will work to ensure that the public, other healthcare professionals and commissioners of our services understand what more we, as a profession, can deliver through advanced practice and look to other professional groups such as nursing, radiography and primary care as successful models.
I also want to attain more advanced practice opportunities for our members. As IBMS President, I will use my connections with fellow organisations and professional bodies to build more partnerships to create opportunities for biomedical scientists to improve patient care. During this politicised climate, I want to ensure that we are involved as an organisation when decisions are being made that will impact our members and the laboratory service.
For me, one of the other big challenges is also one of the most exciting. I want to meet and engage with biomedical scientists and healthcare professionals across the four nations to understand current issues. There is no doubt that this is now more challenging with the devolution of healthcare to the four nations. There are now substantial differences to the way the NHS is delivered across the UK.
If I had one message to offer you it would be to seek out new opportunities. I encourage you to look for the areas where you can improve patient care and position yourself to deliver that service. This might be learning new techniques, studying for additional qualifications, or attending conferences to learn more. Never stop learning, let’s work together to extend and expand our practice and improve patient care across the UK.
Lead Biomedical Scientist in Cellular Pathology and Advanced Practitioner in Cervical Cytology, Monklands Hospital