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Membership of BSH is open to anyone engaged in the practice or study of haematology, including medical consultants and trainees, clinical and biomedical scientists, specialist nurses and other allied health professionals. Read on to learn about the different journeys some of our members have had in their careers.

 

If you want to share your haematology journey with our members on this page, please contact 

communications@b-s-h.org.uk

 

Meet Dr Guy Pratt, Trustee and Committee member, Consultant Haematologist, University Hospitals of Birmingham

Meet Dr Guy Pratt, the marathon-running consultant who is not only a trustee, but also sits on the finance committee and the Haemato-oncology Task force.

Dr Pratt has been a BSH Trustee since April 2015, and will be completing his term in April 2018.

 

What made you interested in applying for the role of BSH Trustee?

I am always trying to be productive and improve haematology generally, both at a local and national level. I think this is a great opportunity to get involved. It was a big step, because I had never been a trustee before and it gave me insight into the society. It has been very interesting, very educational and I would highly recommend it - you get the opportunity to make a difference.

 

What challenges have you faced as a trustee?

There are two obvious things, one is the lack of knowledge. It does take you a while to understand the processes and history behind various things such as the Annual Scientific Meeting, Guidelines or British Journal of Haematology.

The other major challenge is your time. Our NHS jobs are so busy now, it is quite hard to find time to do things, like be a trustee.

So how do you make that work?

It is a challenge, but you have got to manage your time.

Has it been worth it?

Definitely, yes.

 

In terms of rewards, what do you bring with you from this role?

I think there is a pleasure in being with likeminded people who have great abilities and work in a positive organisation. Then there is also a purpose, a meaning to it. You see things like the Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) develop this year, which was excellent. You could see that there has been progress made and you get great happiness from that.

 

What exciting changes are the society facing going forward?

There were several areas highlighted during the board retreat in June, such as continuing to develop our membership offering and Annual Scientific Meeting.

We will also collaborate with other grant bodies and support younger members with the grants.

 

What kind of skill/expertise do you think the board needs?

I think it needs somebody with experience of haematology in Britain. Probably someone who has been a consultant for a while so that they are aware of the issues around haematology. It would also be good if they had a particular area that they would want to focus on.

 

Nominations for new trustees will open later in the year. As per our articles this process will begin when we send out the nomination documents.

If you are interested in becoming a BSH Trustee – keep an eye out for the forms in the post.

Meet Andrea Harris, Professional Nursing Lead, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Services, NHS Blood and Transplant

Andrea Harris - Professional Nursing Lead – Diagnostic and Therapeutic Services, NHS Blood and Transplant

 

 

 

What led you to a career in haematology?

I qualified as a Registered General Nurse in 1990. After a short stint in Rheumatology and General Medicine, I ‘discovered’ haematology. In all honesty, this discovery started with a vacancy on the haematology unit, and I was encouraged to apply for it.

I immediately recognised that there was something different about haematology nursing which is difficult to explain. There was special sort of team work which involved the extended multidisciplinary team, including the patient, their families and significant others.

In 2003, I moved into a career in NHS Blood and Transplant, supporting the implementation of Patient Blood Management and the safe and appropriate use of blood. I also have a keen interest in leadership and supporting professional development.

 

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in haematology?

As a nurse, it can sometimes be difficult to know what career pathway to take. If haematology is an option you are considering, it can have many benefits. You will learn a wide range of extended nursing skills which you will be able to take with you wherever your future career lies. It’s challenging and demanding work (what practice setting isn’t?) but is also extremely rewarding.

 

What is the most rewarding part of your work on the Transfusion Task Force?

I have been a member of the Transfusion Task Force for a number of years. Transfusion is a multidisciplinary speciality, and the Task Force membership represents this. I have had the opportunity to provide a nursing voice to several BSH guidelines. I believe that this is vitally important, as nursing has specific considerations and viewpoints. I feel privileged to have helped to contribute to the multi-professional expert opinion which helps contribute to the evidence base for transfusion.

 

What is the most challenging part?

At first it was very daunting to sit on a Task Force as a nursing representative, and to contribute to discussions or to differ in opinion to others. I soon learned that other Task Force members were keen to hear my views, and so whilst challenging this also became very rewarding.

 

How do you see your specialist area of haematology changing in the future?

Whilst blood transfusion is inherently very safe in the UK, and saves and improves many patients’ lives; new and emerging infections are a constant concern, and there is ongoing evidence to suggest that blood transfusions are sometimes given inappropriately.  The way we use blood is changing, with a general consensus that where possible, alternatives to transfusion should be considered and utilised. Historical and outdated clinical practices need to be constantly challenged as the evidence base grows and changes.

 

What does being a BSH member mean to you?

BSH offers members a unique opportunity to keep up to date with the latest news, education and guidance. It provides a portal to all healthcare professionals for all things haematology, helping to transform the care provided to patients.

Meet Dr Mark Williams, Lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University and POGLRC Affiliate at Univerity of Glasgow

Dr Mark Thomas Shaw Williams, Lecturer in Cell and Molecular Biology at Glasgow Caledonian University and Paul O’Gorman Leukaemia Research Centre Affiliate at University of Glasgow

 

 

What led you to a career in haematology?
I chose to pursue a career in haematology for a variety of reasons. First of all I am fascinated with blood cancers, and have spent the last seven years conducting research into Multiple Myeloma, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). Secondly, ever since my PhD studies I have gravitated towards patient-centred research which makes Haematology an ideal field to carry out such studies. Ultimately I am contented with the knowledge that findings from these studies will potentially have a direct impact on improving blood cancer patient outcomes, as such survival and quality of life. Additionally, I have a passion and educational background in Immunology and enjoy performing research, which encompasses both haematology and immunology.

 

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in haematology?
The best advice that I could give would be to encourage young researchers to network with established researchers. To ensure that they surround themselves with a supportive research team, including PhD students and mentors. I have been fortunate to work closely with excellent clinical researchers, such as Dr Yasar Yousafzai, Assistant Professor at the Khyber Medical University in Pakistan, and through invaluable advice be guided by highly supportive haematology mentors, such as Dr Christina Halsey, Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow and Professor Mhairi Copland.

 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is having the opportunity to interact with and get to know researchers and clinicians from all over the world. Particularly as I enjoy learning about different cultures and different career paths that individuals have followed. Also, I’m fortunate to be conducting research in Glasgow, which has a network of friendly and approachable basic scientists and clinical researchers dedicated to both paediatric and adult patient-orientated haemato-oncology research.

 

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Like most other academics I dedicate the majority of my time to teaching and research, as I find it satisfying having a positive influence on student learning. With regards to my research, striving to perform studies, which have direct clinical implications for blood cancer patients. However, as a consequence I tend to not spend a lot of time with close family, such as my wife and son, and my friends, and thus have to make a conscious effort to achieve that work/life balance that I have heard rumours about.

 

How do you see your specialist area of haematology changing in the future?
I’m interested in how cellular elements of the bone marrow microenvironment protect AML cells from chemotherapeutics. This area is continually evolving, in which we will see the emergence of more accurate multicellular 3D model systems to study bone marrow-leukaemia interactions. I remain hopeful that this will lead to the development of novel therapeutic agents in AML, and other blood cancers, ultimately leading to improved clinical outcomes for these patients.

 

What does being a BSH member mean to you?
I’m proud to be a part of the BSH community, and being an early career researcher I have found that the society is particularly supportive of its younger (research and clinical) society members. The BSH have supported me for many years, enabling me to attend national and international conferences and provide me with useful advice.

Meet Professor Mhairi Copland, Professor of Translational Haematology at Glasgow University

 

 

  1. Why did you choose to specialise in Haematology?

I chose to specialise in Haematology for a number of reasons. Firstly, I enjoy the mix of clinical and laboratory medicine and the opportunity to undertake both clinical and basic research. Secondly, it is a very rewarding specialty and you are able to build really excellent relationships with patients over many years. I think clinical Haematology is quite a holistic specialty as you look after patients from making the diagnosis all the way through their treatment journey. It is also a very fast moving field with new drugs and other therapies frequently becoming available, improving outcomes for patients.

  1. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of the job is seeing patients who are in remission after intensive treatment getting back to living their lives, returning to university or work, and enjoying time with their friends and family. However, I also enjoy the research aspects of my job, and seeing your work presented or published is a great feeling.

  1. What are the toughest problems you have to deal with?

The toughest problems are having to break bad news to patients and their families. Unfortunately, although treatments continue to improve, not all patients are cured and many patients relapse or have refractory haematological malignancies.

  1. What advice would you give to your younger self at the start of your career?

I have given this a lot of thought and I’m not sure I would change very much. I think it’s important to get a broad range of experience in different medical specialties before entering Specialist Training. Early in my Haematology training, I would say, try to take as many educational opportunities as you can and enjoy it.

  1. How do you see the field of Haematology (or your specialist area) changing in the future?

Increasingly, we will see more personalised medicine with the introduction of novel agents for different subtypes of AML, for example. Next generation sequencing is going to have a major role in developing these personalised or ‘precision’ medicine approaches. In addition, I think immunotherapies are going to have a major role to play over the next ten years or so and we are only beginning to see these agents improving outcomes for patients – there is still a long way to go. With an ageing population, people living longer and with multiple therapies now available for conditions such as CML and myeloma, clinics are going to get much busier and I think there will be an increasing role for clinical nurse specialists in managing these patients.

  1. What was the most influential session for you at this year’s BSH ASM and why?

There was a great session on acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. It covered all aspects of the condition and highlighted the new immunological therapies which are becoming available.

  1. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

I would go back to Central or South America. I am really interested in the ancient meso American cultures such as the Maya and the Inca and I’d love the opportunity to spend more time there.

 

 

Meet Ieuan Walker, Academic foundation Doctor at King's College Hospital

 

What interests you about Haematology?
It is one of the fastest paced specialties in terms of research. Watching how fast advances in molecular biology translate into clinical practice is really incredible. Similarly the opportunity to form long-term relationships with your patients is something that really appeals to me. Plus, whenever you mention that you like Haematology to another medical student they immediately think you must be clever (how wrong they are!)

What would you say to other medical students interested in learning more about Haematology?
It’s great! It can be really daunting as a specialty, but haematologists are lovely! There are so many opportunities to get involved in the specialty; local audits and research projects always seem to be in abundance, and that’s a great way to learn more about the specialty. For Med students who want to learn more for exams and build their confidence in Haem, the BSH education days are where I started – they made exams a lot easier!

What would be the highlight of your time as the BSH Student Representative on the Education Committee?
Having the opportunity to present at the British Society for Haematology's ASM. It was a great experience to be able to attend, and I learnt a lot while being there. 

Which opportunities do you find offer the greatest opportunity to learn a great deal?
Getting involved in an audit with the Haematology team as a medical student really opened doors, and I found so many more opportunities to get involved in projects – that was when I thought the specialty might be for me.

What was the most influential session for you at this year’s conference?
Tim Littlewood’s Gold Medal Lecture, 'Teaching Haematology: Art, Science and Humanity' was absolutely brilliant and inspiring stuff - one of the best 45 minutes you will listen to.

If you could witness any event of the past, present, or future, what would it be?
Nirvana’s Live and Unplugged in New York in 1993 (I was a little young!) 

 

Meet Dr Satarupa Choudhuri, BSH Regional Representative for NW England and N Wales

 

Why did you choose to specialise in Haematology? 
I chose to specialise in Haematology as it offered a varied clinical experience from specialist areas, such as the treatment of cancers, to more generalist areas such as the assessment of anaemia or the management of problems associated with haemostasis and thrombosis. This combination is the perfect mix of active patient contact on the ward, outpatient and academic laboratory-based roles. No other specialities offer all of these under one roof.

What do you wish you had known when you first contemplated this career?
I had been a junior doctor in Haematology in very busy centres and as such was aware of the general pros and cons. If you’re simply based on the wards, your perspective can be limited to patients with a poor long-term outcome. It was reassuring to find that there are so many patients who are doing well in the long run despite having a haematological diagnosis. This came to light once I started training in the speciality.

What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?
Always putting the patient at the forefront of everything you do. I also think it’s important to be a team player and to value the opinion of all colleagues who you work with, whether they’re medical or non-medical, as well as being able to admit when you don’t know something, and being able to learn from others.

How do you see the field of Haematology (or your specialist area) changing in the future?
A few things come to mind, such as the centralisation of laboratory functions for diagnostics, a move away from toxic chemotherapeutic agents to less toxic alternative drugs and an increasing focus on strengthening infrastructure based on how various MDTs function. A lot of newer agents, available for treatment in the setting of relapsed CLL, Myeloma and CML setting, are showing promise. Furthermore, there is a greater emphasis on spreading haematological education and awareness, with the BSH's recruitment of regional Education Leads playing an important part.

Which opportunities offer the greatest opportunity to learn a great deal?
I think that listening to and working closely with both our colleagues, patients and carers offers opportunities to better our practice. This can be strengthened by adopting an evidence-based approach to our practice through accessing the resources available such as peer-reviewed journals and, of course, through societies such as the BSH.

What was the most influential session for you at this year’s conference and why?
It has to be the BSH Medal Lecture by Dr Tim Littlewood entitled 'Teaching Haematology: Art, Science and Humanity'. The take home messages were very pertinent to current haematological training in the UK, which is to teach the curriculum before possibly more esoteric topics, and to use every contact with a student or junior doctor as a learning opportunity, which I absolutely believe in and actively practice myself. What I found most interesting was his use of video recordings of patients to teach about the impact of disease on the patients themselves and the importance of proper communication putting it all in perspective. I feel very passionate about education myself and thought his presentation was heartfelt and extremely inspiring.

What was one of your most defining moments in life?
That’s easy…the birth of my children!

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
I’d choose Kolkata in India. The fact that the streets are so vibrant and buzzing irrespective of the time of day is so endearing to me, not to mention my mum’s home cooked curry!

Meet Dr Augustina Ikusemoro, University of Benin Teaching Hospital

Why did you choose to specialise in Haematology?
I chose to specialise in Haematology because while in medical school, I naturally had a flare for the subspecialty. I loved it and understood it quite easily. Also, here in Nigeria, it is a subspecialty that is not yet being explored, and is less populated. With my special interest in blood transfusion medicine, I see it as a privilege to contribute and help develop the blood transfusion service in my country. 

What do you do during a typical working day?
On a typical work day, we schedule a ward round which begins at 8am, after which we proceed to the laboratory to review some slides on peripheral blood films with the residents. This creates discussion and inspires teaching sessions. At other times we run an outpatient clinic as well.

What do you wish you had known when you first contemplated this career?
Nothing at all, because I love and have always wanted to be a haematologist.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is saving lives in respect to blood transfusion.

What are the toughest problems you have to deal with?
The toughest problem I have to deal with is in the management of haematological malignancies in a resource-poor country where many patients cannot afford most of the chemotherapeutic agents required for managing these malignancies. Availability is also a big challenge. Most of the drugs are not available to us.