01 / 1 / 2014 Midnight
Healthcare Science week 2014 (14 - 23 March) is fast approaching, so I really hope you are all busying yourselves with great ideas of how to take science to the public.
Will you be at The Big Bang Fair, being held at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham between 13 – 16 March? Perhaps you will be a careers advisor inspiring the young ‘uns of today to become tomorrow’s biomedical scientists? Maybe you will be judging science projects? There are so many roles that you can get involved with.
You might even like to man a stand at your hospital main entrance? You could put together a table and some posters, and offer ‘Lab Tests Online UK’ (LTOL) leaflets to the public. Take your lunch and answer questions from the patients and public for an hour or so perhaps? Your skills and knowledge can really help someone to understand their lab tests and what they mean, as well as what kind of testing and screening is available for conditions and diseases.
You can send someone away feeling much happier about what is happening to them or their loved one. Often when patients are having tests done they don’t quite understand what things mean, or what will happen to their blood or lumpy bits, they often forget what is said to them by the clinicians. You can make such a difference to a patient’s experience of the NHS.
Back to your table stand, you could even take a microscope and some training slides from cytology and show people what cells look like. Cytology also has a range excellent cellular morphology books with beautiful big full colour pictures. Why not show someone what cervical cells look like at the various stages of the menstrual cycle? Glycogen rich navicular cells for example. Pretty, colourful, boat like shape – talk about this.
You could tell them about George Papanicolaou, the father of the pap smear, who studied the menstrual cycle of the Guinea pig, and discovered he could detect cervical cancerous cells. He developed this further then turned to his wife to study the cervical changes in adult females, according to the variations in their cycle. He is the one we have to thank for saving the lives of millions of women every year. Thanks George (and of course Aurel Babes who preceded George), really appreciate it. Use the opportunity to talk about why cervical screening is really important.
You could also offer some Institute of Biomedical Science leaflets and merchandise. Talk about who you are and what you do in the lab. Take some ‘stuff’ to show people – histology slides and blocks are a great prop. Explain why tissue samples are held in the lab and what is done to them. Get conversations going.
We have moaned for years that no one knows who we are or what we do...well come on then, lets tell them, let’s show the world who we are and what we do and why we are vital to a diagnosis. I can promise you people are interested in our work and will want to know more.
And earn CPD credits while you're at it.
If someone really likes your STEM work you could even win a nice shiny award like I did. http://www.ibms.org/go/media/news,536 - what a lovely surprise it was!
And, I just found out today that I am one of the Science Council's Top 100 UK scientists too. How lovely! http://www.sciencecouncil.org/content/100-leading-uk-practising-scientists
Carry on emailing me, I love hearing from you and how you are spreading the biomedical science bug. And do drop me a line about those Lab Tests Online leaflets; I’m now the Engagement lead for LTOL.