SYNLAB UK & Ireland:

Leigh Gregg

Published: 7th February 2023

A career in science was always on the cards for Leigh, but she had not committed to a particular field when she took up a part-time role at Integrated Pathology Partnerships (IPP) – a SYNLAB company established to work in partnership with the NHS to consolidate, transform and deliver pathology services.

From here she progressed to the haematology department, found that she really enjoyed the challenge and wanted to pursue a career as a biomedical scientist (BMS).

Before embarking on her graduate apprenticeship course, Leigh was working as a Medical Laboratory Assistant and had recently been offered a promotion to Laboratory Technician. However, to maintain this career trajectory, Leigh would need an IBMS-approved BSc biomedical science degree.

Leigh had just completed a BSc degree in genetics and zoology, so knew that she had an aptitude for learning. She was determined not to let the lack of the required qualification hold her back from pursuing her scientific ambitions.

Leigh’s Journey

For Leigh, the synergy between studying and working during an apprenticeship was hugely beneficial. The practical experience and theoretical learning went hand in hand, helping her to successfully complete the course.

I have been able to relate a lot of what I have learned at university to my job in the laboratory. I gained a lot of knowledge through the apprenticeship that translates into my progress towards becoming a BMS.

Leigh chose a final year research project in transfusion, which not only met the academic criteria for the course but also allowed her to gain essential skills and knowledge to facilitate her progression as a BMS.

Although the course involved juggling work and study, and required a real dedication to striking the right balance, Leigh was not alone when facing such pressures.

Support from SYNLAB

Individuals who undertake the SYNLAB Graduate Apprenticeship Scheme receive support from the business on many levels. This support includes:

  • Allocation of a training manager / mentor
  • A commitment to providing 20% of work hours for studying, off-the-job learning and other development activities
  • Support with practical skills in a laboratory setting

My work-based advisor/training manager has been fantastic over the last four years. She has gone above and beyond to help me wherever possible. She has given me the extra push to get work done when needed, especially with my HCPC registration portfolio. It has been a learning curve for both of us, as I was part of the first group of apprenticeships with IPP. I think it is incredibly important to have a training manager and line manager that fully support the apprenticeship programme and have a good understanding of the challenges that come with it.

Top tips from Leigh: Plan your workload in advance, especially around key deadlines and course dates. Take each assignment and exam as they come – try not to let things overwhelm or get the better of you.

It’s the people that I was directly working with that made my apprenticeship successful. My training manager, my manager when I first took on the apprenticeship and a lot of my colleagues that I work with have offered advice, words of encouragement or shared their knowledge to help me with exam preparation or assignments.

So, what’s next…?

It feels fantastic to have finished my degree. Getting fully trained as a BMS is my next goal and then I might look to complete the specialist portfolio, or even a Master’s degree.

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