April 20, 2011 (Wednesday) - Modernising Scientific Careers


Today’s lunchtime seminar at work was on the latest Government’s initiative “Modernising Scientific Careers”. This is something with which I’ve been trying to get to grips for some time. The talk went on for the best part of three quarters of an hour, and in retrospect I can’t honestly say that I’m any the wiser.
But from what I can discern (and I could have this wrong), apparently there is a need to standardise scientific training in the health care professions and this will take place in conjunction with a rather radical overhaul of the jobs that we do in the laboratory. Historically we’ve (effectively) had four tiers of staff in the average path lab.

  • Workers who do all the mundane hard work (where I started!)
  • Technical bods who do the scientific stuff that needs a bit of understanding (like me!)
  • Managerial types who run the show (like I used to be!)
  • Consultant-clinical types who liaise with the doctors (like I chose NOT to be).

This is all to change. Effectively the managerial types will be out on their ears, and with the advent of modern robotic blood testing technology there will a major expansion of the role of the worker grades at the expense of the technical bods (like me!)
Those technical bods remaining (like me!) will in future be greatly reduced in numbers and will be trained alongside medics at a small number of nationally recognised institutions and will operate in a far more patient centred manner.
Or that’s the theory. And it has to be said that this is a theory with a lot of unanswered questions. Exactly what was wrong with the current condition of the workplace was never made clear. Who (exactly and specifically) will run these labs of the future? How exactly does a blood-tester work in a far more patient-centred manner? How do we encourage these clinical-scientists of the future to relocate to district general hospitals when we currently struggle to recruit staff at the equivalent pay bands? What would I personally do in this lab of the future?

What will actually happen in practice is anyone’s guess. My personal (and rather cynical) view is that it will go one of two ways.
Either the whole thing will be abandoned in favour of another crackpot scheme hatched by a different politician to the one who thought this one up.
Or it will take so long to implement that I will be safely retired before the consequences of the change affect me personally.

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