We ask our female members 10 questions about their careers in biomedical science
Siobhan Ashe has worked in the Clinical Chemistry department at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry for more than 35 years. She has been in her current role of lead Biomedical Scientist for the Western Trust covering Altnagelvin and South West Acute Hospital since 2013. Prior to that, Siobhan was the senior responsible for Quality and Training for Clinical Chemistry at Altnagelvin.
1. What made you decide to become a scientist?
I was good at science in school, it seemed an obvious choice.
2. Who has inspired you?
My father, Jack, who was interested in everything. When I was young he decided to do an Open University science course, two things really stand out in my memory. Hanging jars containing crushed bananas in trees to attract fruit flies and, best of all, looking at blood cells under the mini microscope. I was hooked!
3. What has been the toughest challenge you have had to overcome in your career?
I entered the profession with “A” levels before degree entry was a requirement. Having a young child and going on block placement Monday to Friday 70 miles away from home for six weeks to complete a HNC is one of the toughest things I have ever had to do. I really wanted to work in a hospital laboratory and was fortunate to have the support of my husband and family.
4. What was the worst setback you have experienced so far?
Many, many years ago I felt I had been overlooked for a promotion, I was angry, disillusioned and altogether feeling very sorry for myself. It took a couple of years for me to pull myself back from the “dark side” and start to look around for opportunities to move forward and start enjoying my work again.
5. What is the best moment of your career to date?
Becoming Lead Biomedical Scientist for Clinical Chemistry in the trust where I work is undoubtedly the high point.
6. What do you love about your work?
I love the diversity of it, both throughout my career and also now in my role in management. Working at the bench in a Chemistry lab I loved the challenge of working in the high throughput automation section and the different challenges posed in the semi-automated protein and manual testing sections.
7. What are the funniest things you have seen in your line of work?
The funniest thing is something I heard but it can’t be repeated here!
8. What are your future career plans?
I’m very happy in my current role; however, I’d love to take on a new challenge in the area of quality.
9. What advice would you give to aspiring female scientists?
Follow your dreams but be sure you are going in to the correct line of work; Biomedical Science has provided me with a very fulfilling career. However, I believe you need to be passionate to make the most of the opportunities that are available.
10. Anything else you would like to share?
In addition to my father, the people who I have worked with over the years have been my biggest source of inspiration.