Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital provides Seema with new insight

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital provides Seema with new insight

Seema Ali, a student at the University of East Anglia, undertook her placement at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) from September to December 2015, working on quality management tasks in the Pathology department. “I hoped to gain some experience working in a field beyond academia and gain some clarity as to whether I would be suited to working in a non-academic environment”, says Seema.

Seema was working with the Pathology Quality Management team, and had six broad areas of work which were all designed to tackle quality management issues throughout the department. These tasks needed to be completed prior to the hospital’s upcoming United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) assessment visit next year. Firstly, Seema helped develop the laboratory’s approach to calculating Measurement Uncertainty (MU). MU is the inherent inaccuracy associated with an assay that is independent of pre- and post- analytical errors. Secondly, she reinstated the annual accuracy checks for the department’s temperature monitoring system. She also updated the pipette calibration records and attempted to produce a standardised method for conducting in-house pipette checks. In addition, she performed internal audits and suggested subjects for future audits as well as helping establish records of suppliers used by the Pathology department in order to update the Pathology quality management software application, Q-Pulse.

As a result of Seema’s internship, the Eastern Pathology Alliance (EPA), of which Pathology at NNUH is a part, is now better positioned to meet the requirements of UKAS for their inspection later this year and the services provided by the department have been improved. Seema was able to produce a MU Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which in itself is a requirement for accreditation. This document also had the additional benefit of providing a standardised guide for calculating MU for all of the departments  that are part of the EPA. As a result of the numerous audits assessing different procedures currently in place in the laboratory that Seema undertook, she was able to highlight areas requiring improvement, thus starting a chain of events which should lead to the resolution of these problems and consequently leading to the betterment of the service as a whole. Seema was praised for the thoroughness of these audits, and electronic copies of the audits will be used as an example for other people conducting audits in the future.

Seema feels that she gained many valuable transferable skills that will assist her with her PhD and future life. These skills include composing professional documents, evaluating processes for audits, identifying areas for improvement and time management skills. “I found it particularly beneficial to gain contacts for the future and experience in a field that I may choose to pursue a career in after my PhD”, says Seema, as she would like to apply for the NHS Scientist Training Programme after her PhD. Seema also gained new skills specific to the Pathology department at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, such as using electric temperature monitoring  and Q-Pulse software as well as learning how to use new functions on Microsoft Excel.

Seema advises other students to think carefully about where they do their internship and to make the most of the chance to experience a potential future career path.