A day in the life of Hannah Creasey, senior biomedical scientist.
Hannah shares her story to help celebrate National Pathology Week 02-08 November 2020.
I am a senior biomedical scientist in the Haematopathology and Oncology Diagnostic Service which acts as a regional centre for the diagnosis and monitoring of leukaemias and lymphomas.
I came to the laboratory as a medical laboratory assistant following completion of my undergraduate degree, and over the last 10 years I have completed my HCPC registration, specialist training and a Master’s degree.
Recent global events have put a spotlight on hospital laboratory work and have helped highlight the work we do, both within the hospital community and to the general public. Our primary role is to support the clinical team by providing information to facilitate clinical decisions and ensure the best care for our patients.
A typical day
As samples arrive from across the region they are received and prepared so that cells within each sample can be viewed on a slide, under the microscope. Morphological screening of a sample involves identifying the cells present, judging their relative numbers and appearances, looking for characteristic or atypical features, and matching these observations to the clinical picture provided by the clinicians. Morphological screening helps determined the next stage of sample analysis.
Cells express specific markers (or antigens) on their surface. We use antibodies conjugated to fluorescent molecules and flow cytometry to identify the origin and stage of differentiation of cells based on recognition of these antigens. The different combination of antigens can be specific to particular haematological malignancies.
The results we provide are integrated with cytogenetic and molecular genetic findings to establish a final diagnosis along with disease-specific prognostic information.
Alongside the routine work, we also validate new equipment and assays, as the panels of antibodies we use are ever changing, in line with national and international guidelines and the advent of new immunotherapies.
The patients I’ll always remember
Despite not interacting directly with patients, healthcare scientists feel invested in patient journeys and outcomes, particularly when patients are very young or very unwell at presentation. To those patients and their families, know that although we may never meet you, we are continuously routing for you and your recovery.