Eloise Burt - Reproductive Science STP - 2018 intake
Receiving the email that I had secured a place on the STP was one of the most exciting moments of my life! The hard work to get onto the programme had paid off and I was finally on track to my dream job. A couple of years down the line and I am in my final year of the programme, with nine months left to go until it is all over. I can’t help but think that the embryos I am transferring now may be born on the same day as I submit my final assessments!
The STP started off with a bang with six weeks in Manchester, where we met our colleagues on the programme. It was great to be thrown together with a group of likeminded people with similar aspirations and this has formed an incredible support network for getting through the programme. We have also made great friends and really look forward to catching up over a drink when we have our university blocks. The teaching in Manchester has covered as vast amount of embryology and the regulations involved in treatment, with lectures being delivered by specialists from all over the country. It has also allowed us to develop our critical analysis and presentation skills through coursework and assignments, both of which have already proved to be helpful in my day to day work.
I am writing this during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has certainly put a spanner in the works and a lot of changes have had to be made in regard to training. When the virus was at its peak, I was redeployed to intensive care to help out within the technology department. This meant leaving behind pipettes and incubators and learning how to work ventilators and blood gas analysers instead. Although this was daunting, I had previously had to quickly learn a new specialism during my three first-year rotations and so in a strange way the STP had prepared me well for the crisis. Being away from the clinic put stop to training, including the time allocated for competencies and the research project, but the changes haven’t stopped there. Despite efforts from the university, it isn’t possible to go to Manchester for our teaching and instead this will be done from home. Our OSFA has also been cancelled and an alternative final assessment will be put in place. But, like everyone else in the world, we have to muddle our way through these strange times and find a way to work with the new normal.
The opportunities that have come from being on the STP have been vast. I have undertaken my elective at a start-up company, which provides home testing fertility kits and educates women about the importance of their reproductive health. I have also given lectures to university students on genetic screening and have been selected to give an oral presentation of my research project at Fertility 2021. It’s been a busy few years and the STP has been a challenge for sure, but I have learned an awful lot along the way and have grown professionally and personally from the experience.
Catherine Martin - Andrology STP - 2017 intake
The Scientist Training Programme (STP) specialising in Andrology began in 2017; the year I moved to Salisbury to risk it all on the brand new training scheme. After a gruelling few years of late nights writing competencies, I am due to complete the programme in September of 2020 and register as a clinical scientist in Andrology. Anyone on the STP will tell you how stressful the programme can be, but I wanted to talk about some of the positives of the training and how I believe I’ve benefitted so far, albeit with plenty more to learn in the coming months.
We attend almost all of our university lectures with the embryology STP trainees, giving us a really solid knowledge base to operate in fertility clinics. Our competencies, however, cover a wider range of topics which do not solely focus on sperm preparations and resultant IVF treatment, but on treatment of the male. I have had the opportunity to shadow consultants in the Urology, GUM, and Spinal Injury departments, giving a holistic view of male reproduction. Through these experiences I have learnt more than just the scientific knowledge needed to tick boxes, I have also learnt how to lead effective consultations. I have witnessed first-hand how ope