Sheona - Biomedical Scientist, NHS Lothian

My name is Sheona and I work as a biomedical scientist for NHS Lothian. I started working in healthcare in 2009 with the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service. Since 2014,  I've worked in the andrology laboratory and fertility centre in Edinburgh.

In andrology, we collect samples for use in IVF treatment from people with cancer, from people undergoing medical treatments for gender dysphoria, from people unable to conceive naturally, or those who are donating sperm.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I actually initially wanted to be a palaeontologist. Later on in life, I wanted to be a marine biologist, but I fell into biomedical science.

Why did you decide to become a biomedical scientist?

I think because working in a lab interested me. I think it’s an unknown disciple but it’s really exciting to think about all the different avenues you can go down in the career.

Can you describe your job in a sentence? 

Varied and challenging.

Tell us about a typical day

Andrology is slightly unique to biomedical science because we work with patients. Other areas of biomedical science don't have any direct patient contact at all. We take and process samples from the patient. We go through various consent forms regarding treatment and we also test and cryopreserve samples too, which means freezing them for long-term storage.

What opportunities are there to develop your skills and experience?

There are always opportunities for training, like CPR for first aid and fire training. There are also various conferences around the country. It’s a good place to learn outside the scope of your practice and develop your skills further.

What have been your greatest career accomplishments to date?

I would say obtaining my specialist diploma in transfusion science. It was a challenge and passing it was a great accomplishment.

What makes you smile at work?

Mainly giving people good news, but sometimes we have to give bad news too. Overall, even if it is bad news, it’s making sure they’ve had the best service.

What part of your job is the most challenging?

I guess giving bad news is a tough one. Especially when someone you’re dealing with is going through a rough time.

What are your future career ambitions?

I’d say I’m hoping to obtain a promotion at some point. But yeah, there’s a lot of scope for progression and it’s just finding the right opportunity at the right time.

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a biomedical scientist?

The biggest piece of advice I’d give is to look into your university course carefully. There’s a lot of courses out there labelled as Biomedical Science, but they’re not accredited with the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS). It can have a huge effect on your career if you want to work within a hospital. You might find it difficult to get a job in a hospital setting if your course isn't accredited.