Cheryl Williams, Biomedical Scientist, Microbiology Department at The Royal Oldham Hospital

Cheryl Williams   Biomedical Scientist   Microbiology TROH

Cheryl Williams, Biomedical Scientist, Microbiology Department at The Royal Oldham Hospital

My role is Advanced Biomedical Scientist working in Microbiology at The Royal Oldham Hospital.  Biomedical Scientists are responsible for testing patient samples and in Microbiology we specifically test for bacteria and viruses that cause infections.

My role has many duties, including reporting of patient results, monitoring quality control, verifying and maintaining sample analysers, writing and reviewing standard operating procedures, plus personnel duties such as creation of rotas and staff management.

I have always been interested in science from primary school age.  In secondary school, I enjoyed Biology, particularly learning about the human body.  I wanted to work in healthcare, but did not want to be a doctor or nurse (I’m not very good with ill people!).  This career is perfect for me, as it gives me a role in diagnosis and treatment of patients without being directly involved in their care.

Currently, I supervise the molecular section in the laboratory and in March 2020, the lab started processing samples for COVID-19.  I designed and performed the verification of the assay used to test samples on our existing molecular platform, trained up existing and new staff members in testing protocols, and have also been involved in verifying new analysers and methods for rapid testing for COVID-19.  At the moment, the majority of my time is spent doing work related to COVID-19, which includes staff training, writing and reviewing procedures, and liaising with service users. 

My shift pattern has also changed and I have worked late into the evening and overnight to ensure patient results for COVID-19 are reported as soon as possible. This aids patient flow throughout the hospital and helps to maintain infection control and prevention.

When you look back at famous scientists through history, it is hard to name any female scientists, but there are some who were pioneers in their field and have had a massive impact on science now.  My opinion is that a scientific career is viewed as a male-dominated profession, when in fact in our lab, around 80% of the workforce is female.  I think this viewpoint should not put girls off into pursuing a career in science, and gender should not be a barrier to a career as a scientist.