Glowing CPD: Alison Hanlon CSci

The Science Council spoke to Alison Hanlon BSc (Hons), MSc, MIBMS CSci  – a Senior Specialist Biomedical Scientist and Member of the Institute of Biomedical Science to showcase her CPD in 2020.

Did your approach to CPD change during 2020 in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic? If so, how?

In my role, the work based learning has gone through huge changes. I am heavily involved in the introduction of new processes and this part of training has had to be adapted quite considerably to meet social distancing requirements. Normally, I would take large groups and hold teaching sessions but this has been more challenging as we have had to change to smaller groups meaning multiple training sessions.

Also, as I actively participate in work events and conferences, I have had to adapt to attending the virtual or online events. I was actually surprised at how interactive they were e.g. you were still able to ask questions and meet the speakers (virtually). The online aspect also made them a lot more accessible, as normally we can only have a couple of people attend each event to ensure staff numbers are not too low and travelling expenses can be costly. Some staff were able to even access the courses at home or play back the events at a later date. Two that I attended and found great learning experience were the Scottish Clinical Transfusion Advisory Committee (SCTAC) 9th Annual Meeting and the Ortho User Group Meeting.

There were a few new challenges that I took on that I learned so much from and were unaffected by the pandemic. I held Training sessions with new Haematology registrars and completing their online portfolios.

Also, we introduced the supply and thawing of Convalescent Plasma for patients on the Recovery and REMAP-CAP trials. These trials were both aiming to see if a plasma transfusion containing antibodies from previous Covid positive individuals could help in the treatment of severe cases of Covid.

During 2020, our hospital was the first in Scotland to introduce trials of:

  • CAR-T cell therapy, which involves genetically engineering a patients T cells to make them attack cancer cells. Our lab is involved with the bedside thawing of these frozen cells and also the provision of test results and appropriate blood products if required.
  • Ex-vivo normothermic perfusion (EVNP), which is a technique to help improve the condition of a kidney by restoring metabolism and function prior to transplantation. Part of this perfusion is to provide a unit of red cells suitable for that patient and ensure it is also safe, should the kidney go to a different recipient (supplied by our Blood Transfusion Department).

All of these new trials involved me writing up processes and training new staff which they found very interesting as they are able to be involved with novel techniques and treatments.

Did you do CPD at home? Were there any activities not reliant on virtual platforms? 

I did a lot of CPD at home, I find it easier to reflect on work based events straight after the event, usually within a few days of me completing them.

Journal based learning is an exercise you can do anywhere since it consists of reading an article and answering questions, even more of a challenge to do one that is not in the discipline you are familiar with.

In house training, staff appraisals and participation in external quality assessment schemes such as NEQAS and WASPS must be performed in the lab as they need to be face to face or involve practical work.

How you have been creative with your CPD?

I completed some online courses such as First Aid and Phlebotomy to open my eyes to other professions in the hospital, since there were less opportunities to do face to face learning/shadowing.

Our lab participated in Biomedical Science Day 2020, to promote our profession and show how we have all came together to work through this difficult year. We decided to take individual photos that we put together to give the impression of a human pyramid and I added some fitting words to express what the photo represented (see below). I wanted to show how proud I was of my colleagues for pulling together and keeping the service running to the same excellent standard throughout the pandemic.

Were there any useful CPD resources from your professional body that you have used?

I really enjoy and get a lot out of the IBMS CPD diploma scheme, it is a great way to record what you have completed and it inspires me to be active with CPD when I know I can achieve a certificate. I was awarded my 9th CPD diploma in 2020 and I am now working on number 10!