We ask our female members 10 questions about their careers in biomedical science
Victoria Bradley is lecturer/Clinical Learning Facilitator at Cardiff Metropolitan university. Prior to this, she worked in an NHS pathology laboratory as a Biomedical Scientist for over 20 years.
For most of her career, Victoria has been involved in the clinical training of biomedical science trainees and placement students and has a particular interest in reflective practice. In 2015 she made the ‘leap’ to becoming an academic and now teaches healthcare science and biomedical science at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
1. What made you decide to become a scientist?
It was my favourite subject at school and I was lucky enough to have a week long placement during my GCSE's in the pathology laboratory at the local hospital. It was an amazing week, I visited all of the different disciplines and that was it. I was 'sold' on being a scientist.
2. Who has inspired you?
From a science point of view, it would be a series of cool science teachers throughout my primary and secondary education; Mr Winch was the most memorable he used to sing the Kinks to us whilst explaining the periodic table and the principles of molarity, he made science fun.
3. What has been the toughest challenge you have had to overcome in your career?
Achieving a decent work-life balance; balancing on-call, two kids and time with family and friends and a professional doctorate was particularly challenging. It all came down to good time management, a very understanding family and learning to say ‘No’.
4. What was the worst setback you have experienced so far?
Early on in my career I applied for a senior's post and didn’t get the job, this hit me quite hard but I reflected on the experience and started working on improving my CV. The first opportunity that came along was a two-year secondment to research a new qualification for support workers in Wales which gave me a different insight into where I could take my career – it was from this I focussed more on the training aspect of my laboratory role.
5. What is the best moment of your career to date?
That has to be, without a doubt, meeting David Attenborough. He was the guest speaker at my graduation ceremony when I received my MSc in Biomedical Science from the University of the West of England and he presented me with my degree!
6. What do you love about your work?
I love solving problems and there have been plenty of those over the years, but the thing I enjoy the most is that light bulb moment when a trainee or student 'gets it'.
7. What are the funniest things you have seen in your line of work?
There are three things that really stick out here for me;
- Green blood; I was labelling up a sample for a U&E and when I looked at it the blood was bright green, ‘Incredible Hulk’ green. Obviously intrigued I contacted the ward to find out what was going on – apparently, the patient was about to undergo an imaging procedure and when they introduced the contrast dye they had an anaphylactic reaction. When I centrifuged the sample the ‘serum’ was blue!
- A suspicious parcel in reception; A patient once left a sample for faecal occult bloods wrapped in newspaper (no sample pot!)
- The ultimate PPE; At the height of the Ebola outbreak we had to put procedures in place to ensure that we could deal with samples from patients suspected of having Ebola. Seeing one of the managers fully kitted out in head to toe PPE following a sample round the laboratory to explore what problems may occur was both very scary and very funny.
8. What are your future career plans?
I have been undertaking some action research, in my new role, in relation to reflective practice and how we prepare professionals to use this in their working lives. I would like to develop this further in conjunction with a new reflective framework I’m working on which is specifically aimed at scientists.
9. What advice would you give to aspiring female scientists?
Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something, especially if they suggest it is because you are female. If you can clearly demonstrate that you have the skills and experience make sure that you do it even more!!
10. Anything else you would like to share?
It's been a rollercoaster journey and I've loved every minute of it (well, maybe not the night shifts), I wouldn't change what I do now or the circuitous route I took to get here, for anything.