Hi, my name is Lena and I am in my final year studying Applied Biomedical Science at RGU. This semester I am completing a 12-week placement in the Medical Laboratories at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. This is normally completed in the 3rd year, but my placement was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although it was delayed, I was super excited to start my placement at the end of September.
Placement is a really important part of the Applied Biomedical Science course at RGU because this is where you complete work that goes towards building your Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) Registration Training Portfolio. By completing this portfolio it shows that you meet the standards of proficiency to be a Biomedical Scientist and at the end of your degree, you can register as a Biomedical Scientist with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
My Placement Experience
I am now halfway through my placement. Let me give you an insight into what I have been up to in the past 6 weeks whilst working in the immunology lab. Immunology is a very varied discipline, with a wide range of manual and automated tests that can be done in Aberdeen, or referred to other labs across the UK.
One of the areas that we focused on was the diagnostic pathway of patients that are being tested for coeliac disease. Like most diagnostic pathways a multi-disciplinary approach is really important, allowing for a thorough investigation. In immunology an immunoassay called tTG IgA is the first line test carried out using a Phadia 250 analyser. If these results are positive then indirect immunofluorescence staining can be performed to confirm the result. I was able to work alongside biomedical scientists on the Phadia 250 analysers, helping to run this test and others that use the same analyser. I learned the basic workings of the analysers and helped with daily maintenance procedures. This involved, cleaning the sample probe, loading the reagents, and testing quality controls.
I also carried out manual immunofluorescence staining and received training in the use of the automated staining platform. I enjoyed carrying out the manual immunofluorescence staining and examining results using the fluorescence microscope. I was able to see if my staining results matched the original results for the patient and learned to identify the different staining patterns for each test. Another focus was the testing performed to help in the diagnosis of ANCA-associated vasculitis which is an autoimmune inflammatory disease of blood vessels. This involved more work on the Phadia 250 analysers and immunofluorescence staining. I also learned about the allergy testing available in Aberdeen and how CD4+ monitoring for HIV patients and immune monitoring for primary immune deficiency investigations are carried out. I was also allowed to practice my pipetting skills and was able to perform a manual ELISA.
I also had the opportunity to attend a multiple disciplinary team meeting with a Consultant Pathologist and Paediatric Gastroenterology Consultant where cases of children with Coeliac Disease and other bowel diseases were discussed. In my 1st and 2nd week of placement, I visited the Immunology Clinic and spoke to the Specialist Nurses about their role in investigating patients with primary immunodeficiency and allergy. Both of these opportunities allowed me to increase my clinical understanding and fully appreciate the workings of multidisciplinary teams.
While in the lab, I helped in specimen reception by booking in samples and using the centrifuge to separate the serum portion of the blood, filing samples away and dealing with telephone enquiries that were within my limits of practice. In addition to this, I had a couple of pieces of evidence to write each week for my portfolio and I attended virtual tutorials. I also attended 2 live tutorials within the immunology department.
Overall I enjoyed my 6 weeks in the Immunology laboratory and learned lots from the highly skilled staff that I worked with both in the lab and clinical areas. Having a range of different learning opportunities also helped me develop a deeper understanding of complex areas. I was able to apply what I had learned at uni, in the labs, and the clinical visits together to build a clear picture of different aspects of the discipline. I am now looking forward to moving onto the Haematology laboratory for my final 6 weeks of placement.