#BritishScienceWeek 2020: A Day in the Life of a Clinical Biochemist
11 March 2020
Hello, my name is Eleanor McLaughlan and I am a Clinical Biochemist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
What does a typical day look like for you?
We take it in turns to be on the rota as Duty Biochemist. This entails being the first port-of-call for any queries about biochemistry results from Healthcare Professionals in primary and secondary care. The Duty Biochemist also responds to any concerns from the laboratory staff regarding the analyses we undertake. We also review test results that are below or above-set limits, add comments to lab reports, and phone out anything that needs discussion with the requesting clinician.
When I’m not the Duty Biochemist, my job is very varied and can include:
• Assessing data from the validation of new tests
• Undertaking clinical audits to determine how we can improve our service
• Teaching undergraduates, trainee biomedical scientists and clinical scientists
• Overseeing some aspects of quality in the lab, so we know that our analysers are producing accurate results.
One project that I’ve really enjoyed being part of helped improve the turnaround time of blood test results for patients on chemotherapy. By ensuring their results are available before their appointment with their Oncologist their care can be better managed and Pharmacy can release their prescription.
How did you get into this career?
I used to work in academic research. After doing a PhD and a post-doc, I realised that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my career writing grant applications, journal articles and teaching. Instead, I wanted to use my skills more directly for the benefit of patients. I applied for a 3-year training course (Scientist Training Programme) in Biochemistry and accepted a place to train at Leeds. This involved a part-time MSc at the University of Manchester and on-the-job training in the lab. The course was very well organised and enjoyable, although the workload was sometimes a struggle to balance with 2 small kids at home! I passed the assessments and became registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I absolutely love what I do. Biochemistry is fascinating because of the range of tests that we undertake - this includes tests of kidney, liver and cardiac function, tumour markers, markers of inflammation, vitamins, hormones, glucose and cholesterol to name but a few! The aspect of my job that I enjoy the most is when we get a strange result that doesn’t fit with the clinical picture. I love the challenge of trying to figure out whether it’s due to something interfering with the measurement