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A career in diagnostics

Louise Diver discusses her career pathway to becoming a trainee clinical scientist
LOUISE DIVER: I am a trainee clinical scientist in genetics. So this is a three-year training programme. It’s really quite intense, and it combines work-based training with a part-time academic component. My undergraduate degree was in molecular and cellular biology. And I enjoyed the genetic component of this quite a lot, so I then went on to do a master’s degree in medical genetics. I knew, at this point, that I wanted a career in genetic diagnostics, but I did fail to get past the interview stage. So I decided I needed to get some further laboratory experience, and I was accepted to a PhD on how genetic variations influence blood pressure.
Genetic diagnostic testing is where we look at changes in a person’s chromosomes or genes. And we can use the results of those tests to either confirm or rule out a suspected diagnosis. Or we can use them to determine a person’s risk of inheriting a genetic condition. The basic requirement for this training programme is a 2.1 in your honours degree. But again, this is very competitive, so any further experience, qualifications, or skills that you have will help you stand out during the selection process.

For those interested in a career which has a direct impact on patient care, the opportunity to train as a clinical scientist can be extremely rewarding. We talked to current trainee in genetics, Louise Diver but there are a huge range of specialities you could go into – see the link below for details of the vast array of different areas in which scientists work in the UK National Health Serivce (NHS).

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