Tamarside Community College in Plymouth. Plymouth High School for Girls (for Sixth Form). BEng at Loughborough University. MSc at King’s College London
12 GSCEs (including Maths, Design Technology, Double Manufacturing, Double Science, English, English Literature, French, Religious Studies). A-Levels in Maths, Physics, Further Maths, French. AS-Level in Dance. Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Masters degree in Clinical Science (Clinical Engineering).
Dry Slope Ski Instructor. Production Engineer at Babcock International. Project Engineer at Babcock International. Critical Life Part Engineer at Rolls Royce. CAD Engineer at Princess Yachts. Associate Healthcare Scientist in Clinical Engineering in the NHS.
Clinical Scientist (Clinical Engineer) in the NHS.
I am an engineering scientist who works in healthcare.
I live in Plymouth in Devon with my husband and two dogs. In my spare time, I enjoy climbing, cooking, swimming in the sea (when it’s not too cold), hiking and playing board games. My husband and I are also (very slowly) renovating our house.
I studied Mechanical Engineering at university and although I loved learning about mechanical engineering, after a couple of jobs in marine engineering and aerospace engineering, I realised I am not really very interested in engines or boats or aeroplanes or cars or robots, which is what most people think of when they think of engineering. Eventually, I realised I am actually passionate about helping people and luckily there are lots of (less known about) opportunities for engineering skills to be used to help people.
I use maths, science and engineering to find different ways to help people with disabilities. I also sometimes fix medical equipment and carry out checks to ensure equipment is working correctly.
My official job title is “Clinical Scientist in Clinical Engineering” but not many people know what that means!! I primarily use maths, science and engineering to find different ways to help people with disabilities. This for example includes measuring how different body functions work, giving patients technology to help them do things that they otherwise cannot do and looking at whether digital technology like phone apps can help patients when they are at home.
I am also involved in helping ensure that ultrasound machines within the hospital are working correctly and actually measuring what they are meant to be measuring and sometimes I fix broken medical equipment like infusion pumps which give patients medicines/fluids or blood pressure and oxygen level monitors.
My Typical Day: I do not have a typical day. My work includes regularly reading information online about new technologies, arranging different ways to develop or test new technology, teaching others how to use new equipment, collecting and analysing data and going to meetings to share ideas and findings and plan what needs to be done next.
I would like to tell you about a few different typical days I experienced when I trained to be a clinical scientist.
When I worked in ‘Clinical Gait Analysis’, I used motion capture analysis (similar to the technology used to make CGI movies with green screens and reflective dots) to measure how people walk. In this case, after I arrived at work, I had to set up and adjust the measurement equipment. I carried out checks to make sure nothing had been moved, to make sure all of the settings were correct and to ensure the equipment was not broken. Once this was complete, we were ready to see our first patient. During the appointment with the patient, we first asked them about their medical history and the walking problems they were experiencing. We also find out how much movement they have in their leg joints by asking them to bend and stretch their legs and measuring angles with a special ruler. Next we put little reflective dots on the patient’s legs and ask them to walk up and down the room, whilst the special cameras record how the dots are moving in space. After the patient has left, we analyse the data and use this to try to work out why the patient is struggling with their walking and what treatment might help. We often see patients more than once and compare their data over time to check whether the treatment has helped or not. Sometimes, another typical day in this job included carrying out experiments to research whether there were better ways to set up the equipment or use the data based on new scientific findings.
When I worked in ‘Electronic Assistive Technology’, I visited patients who were unable to move their arms or use their hands and provided specialist electronic equipment to help them control things in their homes, such as the TV, a computer, light switches and door openers. I would start by asking about the patient’s medical history, which parts of their body they could and could not move, how good they were at using technology and what they wished they could control around their home. This information helped me work out which specialist equipment they could be given and how to provide them with a way to control the equipment. Once this has been decided and agreed with the patient, this equipment then needs to be set up specially to meet this patient’s need and to link with other equipment in their house, such as their TV. Finally, I would then teach the patient how to use the equipment, which was my favourite part! Sometimes, another typical day in this job included researching what new specialist equipment might now be available and testing it out and checking whether it works well or not.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
"engineer in healthcare" (because not many people know there are engineers and scientists in healthcare so this is a key message)
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Set up an eye-controlled piece of equipment so a hospital patient who could not move or speak could tell their family that they loved them.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
What: Being an air cadet and later my need to help people. Who: One of my mechanical engineering lecturers who told me about Rehabilitation Engineering, my brother who had a physical disability and Stephen Hawking who developed himself some fantastic assistive technology.
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
I didn't know so followed my strongest subjects.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Physiotherapist, Private Tutor, Lecturer, Software Developer or Climbing Instructor
Who is your favourite singer or band?
The Piano Guys
What's your favourite food?
Cherry Bakewell Tarts
What is the most fun thing you've done?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Good health for my friends and family. A slightly bigger house with a garage and driveway. To have a little bit more energy each day than I do.
Tell us a joke.
Two antennas got married — the wedding was lousy, but the reception was outstanding.