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Healthcare Science Week, STEM activities

Hands Up, Healthcare Scientists!

I recently read a headline on the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) website and it asked…


That’s this Friday!!

The article continued with explaining how this event is a great opportunity to raise the profile of healthcare scientists (HCSs). And it is, I know, I’ve had first hand experience of taking part in an event for Healthcare Science Week as a HCS myself.

Volunteering at Healthcare Science Week in 2014 at The Royal College of Pathologists

Volunteering at Healthcare Science Week in 2014 for the IBMS at The Royal College of Pathologists

For it, I made a heap load of gallbladders out of balloons and spent the entire day having loads of fun showing groups of school kids how I would dissect them in the lab. Some of them even had a go themselves! The room was full of HCSs all demonstrating our own disciplines within which we work. I would have loved going to an event like this when I was at school, but sadly we weren’t so lucky. I remember only serendipitously discovering biomedical science when my mum arranged some work experience for me in a veterinary laboratory she used to work in. I’m forever indebted to her for that chance moment because I absolutely love what I do now and probably wouldn’t have discovered it if it wasn’t for her, so thank you mum 😀

But back to the article topic and matter in hand…

The North West Healthcare Science Network had a lovely video made about HCSs and our contribution to the NHS. In it they stated that we only make up 5% of the healthcare workforce, but actually play a crucial role in approximately 80% of all diagnoses. That’s staggering!

Patients, and anyone interested for that matter, can find out all about these tests and why they’re ordered through the fantastic website labtestsonline.org. But how many people know about the behind-the-scenes scientists performing all these tests? So, be it for anyone with a general interest, or for students who want to embark on a HCS career, how easy is it to connect with real-life HCSs to find out more?


It’s great to host face-to-face events with students but in the era we live in, so consumed by incessantly accessing the internet at home or on the go, most people will turn to the internet for answers.

Personally, I love the accessibility of social media to both browse and take part in conversations about pathology online. I follow so many histopathologists on Twitter (mostly from the States) and the quality of the discussions and images they share are incredible and so educational. But what about the UK? Where are our contributions to this social network community? To find out, I searched Twitter and Facebook Pages for UK-based HCSs, and for my own enrichment really, started with my field of histology. I even expanded the search to include histopathologists and tagged in the IBMS and Royal College of Pathologists to help me reach a wider audience. I chose Twitter and Facebook because these are by far the most popular social media sites, particularly for the Generation Y millennials amongst us, and so you can imagine I was very disheartened when my search results proved nothing short of barren. Now, I appreciate that not every HCS includes their job title in their profiles, wants to make themselves searchable or wants to share or talk about their work publicly online, so this does only refer to HCSs who share information about their profession.

So, if an online search was that fruitless for me trying to find colleagues in the same field when I know the exact words to search for, either it must be close to impossible for seekers to find real HCSs, or we simply aren’t out there online. If either of those is the case then it’s an untapped resource for individuals to observe discussions amongst HCSs or get involved with them if they have any questions about our work.

pcLet’s change that! Yes, absolutely, meet face to face at pop-up events, but not everyone is fortunate enough to find themselves at these. So, let’s try raising our online profile too, because the reality is that the internet is where a large proportion of us spend a good amount of our time. In this day and age where we can have live online chat sessions with our banks, stores, solicitors, and internet providers, surely we HCSs can offer an opportunity for anyone interested to connect with us online for that personal touch, too.

So, for Healthcare Science Week (and beyond), I’m choosing to make it my mission to raise our online profile, but I need your help! Where are all the HCS that would be willing to discuss their work online? Are you one? Are there any? If not, why not?

Can you help me find them so we can create a social media resource for anyone interested in connecting with HCSs from all kinds of disciplines?

If you would like to get involved, or know somebody who would, please share your/their social media details or link(s) below. If you/they don’t have one and would like some help getting one, please get in touch with me through the contact form on my About Page and we can get the ball rolling!

So, hands up, Healthcare Scientists! Our week to shine is almost here!


About Della Thomas

Hello, my name is Della and I'm a Specialist Scientific Lead in histological dissection working for the NHS in England.


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Della Thomas

Della Thomas

Hello, my name is Della and I'm a Specialist Scientific Lead in histological dissection working for the NHS in England.

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