Cellular Pathology

A day in the life of a Biomedical Scientist - Clinical Pathology



Natasha Steele


Specialist Biomedical Scientist


Cellular Pathology

How did she get started in biomedical science?

Natasha always knew she wanted to do something related to healthcare as her career, and considered medicine and pharmacy work. However, she also knew she liked to do hands-on work. As she loved both biology and chemistry at school, her careers advisor suggested she look at biomedical science as a degree. Once she started the course she discovered her passion for biomedical science and went on to complete both a degree and a Masters, where she specialised in cellular pathology due to the hands-on nature of the work. She has been with South West London Pathology for around three and a half years.

What does an average day look like?

Natasha likes to arrive at work at 7.30am, an hour before she is due to start, so she can have her breakfast and a cup of coffee in the tearoom and have a chat with her colleagues before her working day begins. She may also, on occasion, be drafted in to support other areas of the lab during that time, and she enjoys being able to help out her colleagues.

There is no real average day for Natasha, as it depends on what the rota looks like for that day and whereabouts in the lab she is based. On any given day, she could be working on anything from cutting blocks to biopsy transfer or immunocytochemistry. Biopsy transfer involves taking tissue from a biopsy and transferring it into a cassette. The cassette is then processed and the tissue is embedded into a paraffin wax block. Natasha then cuts the blocks into very thin sections which allows the tissue to be stained to highlight any abnormal or cancerous changes.

Natasha is often rotated into the immunocytochemistry section of the , where patient samples are cut from the paraffin wax blocks and, using various antibodies on automated machines, can be tested to diagnose a patients cancer, locate the original site of a cancer and even help to indicate how a cancer will react to specific treatments.

She also does some work at Croydon Hospital supporting their MOHS clinic for skin cancer surgery where patients have known basal cell carcinomas removed. Biomedical Scientists are on hand to check the margins of removed tissue while the patient is waiting to confirm that all of the carcinoma has been successfully removed.

What's her favourite thing about the job?

Natasha loves being part of the team that diagnoses and treats patients, albeit a hidden part. She likes that she is contributing to helping people. She also enjoys the attention to detail that is required in histology labs and the fact that it is a hands-on role. She has always enjoyed doing manual activities and techniques and can pick up procedures that she has only seen a couple of times easily. She also loves that there is always something new to see and learn about in her role, so it never gets boring.

What are her most memorable moments?

Natasha gets real pleasure from seeing her colleagues progress and has always been passionate about training, so one of her most memorable moments was when a colleague asked her to review their portfolio work and then went on to successfully pass the assessment. When Natasha was training, her training officer was inspirational and encouraged and helped her, which is why she wants to become a trainer. She also sees how important training is in the lab environment and that it is something that needs attention.