IBMS: Celebrating Women in Biomedical Science

This International Women’s Day, we celebrate inspiring female professionals and the professional bodies who support them.

Did you know that 64% of the Institute of Biomedical Science‘s (IBMSIBMS logo) members are women? IBMS aims to raise the profiles of its female members, to highlight the achievements of women in the biomedical workforce and inspire future generations of female scientists.

Today, we hear from Dr Louise Ann Thaci,  IBMS members and Senior Biomedical Scientist/Training Lead at the Haematology Blood Transfusion department, Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust. Dr Thaci answers ten questions about her career in biomedical science.

1.  What made you decide to become a scientist? 

louise-ann-thaci02When I left school I went to college to study art and then auto-engineering.  I knew that I wanted to work in an area of speciality that was both mentally and physically challenging. It was when I returned to education, some 8 years later, that I found my love of science and went on to study a degree in molecular biology and immunology at King’s College London.

2.  Who has inspired you?

My mother.  She is truly devoted to looking after the family and children.  She organises their homework and activities even though I know that she always dreamed of having a career. She does so much for me and my family and I aim to be the best scientist I can be as a tribute to her. She is so proud to tell people of my achievements.

3.  What has been the toughest challenge you have had to overcome in your career?

I work full-time and have 3 children.  During my studies, over 15 years full and part-time, I attained professional qualifications through the IBMS Biomedical Scientist route to complement my career pathway from Medical Laboratory Assistant to Senior Biomedical Scientist and I am especially proud to have achieved a doctorate in medical science.

4.  What was the worst setback you have experienced so far?

Timing. I am the kind of person who is so keen and ready to work towards something and I can see the best way forward but usually before the department is ready.  Because of this, I undertake a significant amount of further training and usually in my own time. As a result, I am now the Training Lead for the department and have developed training programmes for other members of staff to work toward producing an inspired and dedicated team of scientists.

5.  What is the best moment of your career to date?

The best moment of my career was when I was asked to work at both the Training Lead for the Blood Sciences Department and to oversee the running of the Flow Cytometry Laboratory as a Senior BMS.

6. What do you love about your work?

I love being able to run the Flow Cytometry Laboratory and produce the results that are discussed at the fortnightly Flow Multi-disciplinary Meeting (MDM) which I also attend.  Bringing together a patient’s full blood count, morphology and flow cytometry as cases for discussion, suggesting further testing and/or making diagnosis gives me a feeling of completeness and shows me the clinical context in which scientific testing plays a key role.

7. What are the funniest things you have seen in your line of work?

The laboratory where I work has a collection of novelty items that are scientifically or laboratory related. For example, the Blood Transfusion laboratory has a collection of penguins and during the Christmas period some of the penguins become dressed up as trees or characters in the nativity decorations.

8. What are your future career plans?

In 2005, I was successful in completing equivalency with the Academy of Healthcare Science to become an HCPC registered Clinical Scientist in haematology.  This year I am applying for the Higher Specialist Scientific Training with the National Academy of Healthcare Science to study towards becoming an in-house Consultant Clinical Scientist. To the department, this post will bridge the gap between the laboratory and its service users and enable the progression from scientific to clinical and vice versa for more senior members of staff within haematology and blood transfusion.

9. What advice would you give to aspiring female scientists?

Think about what type of scientist you would like to be and what speciality you are interested working in and then do everything you can to get there.  No goal is too far to reach with hard work.

10. Anything else you would like to share?

To be a woman of science, a mother, a wife and a daughter is the best reward.

Read the full interview here.

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