Tuesday 30th March 2010 by C. Freeman
Two health professionals visited Brooke Weston to talk about their roles as part of Healthcare Science Awareness Week, an initiative highlighting some of the 50+ scientific professions in the NHS.
Lynne Banes Marshall, specialist biomedical scientist in microbiology and Caroline Parkes, senior biomedical scientist in cellular pathology at Kettering General Hospital visited separately and explained their fields of expertise to two cohorts of science students.
Mrs Banes Marshall spoke to Year 10 students taking fast-track triple science about micro-organisms and viruses, outlining the range of bacteria that humans are host to, many of which are beneficial for health:
'I wanted to focus on the positive aspects of bacteria, explaining that we've got them all over our body and they maintain us and keep us healthy. They protect us from any disease-causing micro-organisms. There are some organisms in the body that will cause infection but they are kept under control by the other ones.'
She illustrated her talk with a presentation showing pictures of different types of bacteria and highlighted their phenomenal rate of reproduction. The laboratory at Kettering General Hospital focuses on identifying bacterial infections such as food poisoning, septicaemia and meningitis.
The following day 50 Year 9 students heard Mrs Parkes describe the role of the hospital's cellular pathology department that screens tissue and body fluid samples so diseases can be correctly diagnosed. More than a million pathology tests are carried out at the Kettering General Hospital laboratories annually.
Mrs Caroline Parkes.
The tissue samples undergo elaborate preparation before they can be screened. Suspect tissue is firstly preserved then embedded in paraffin wax. Scientific staff cut the samples into precise sections one cell thick before they are mounted on slides and stained with dye before analysis by the consultant pathologists.
Ms Parkes said: 'It's good being able to help people every day. When a doctor phones up for a result you can help a patient to know that they haven't got cancer when they thought they might have. It's a very varied job.'
Teacher Mrs Hearne said: 'Both the talks were really interesting and gave students an insight into the range of scientific careers which underpin the National Health Service and the educational routes these entail.'