Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology


Science Council Professional Development Day report

AAPT Council member Gemma Norburn RSciTech MAAPT reports on the recent Science Council event

On Tuesday 14th March 2023, on a very rainy day in London, the Science Council hosted their first Professional Development Day at the Institute of Physics.

As a Registered Science Technician, I was able to attend and take part in the day which I will reflect on here. The event was organised with the various member bodies, such as the AAPT, and also representatives from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Government Science & Engineering Profession (GSEP) and the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS).

I arrived towards the end of the first session, which meant I was able to access the tea and coffee before the other attendees, but also grab myself some freebies including an RsciTech badge and pen.

A short break then led into the second session, which had a choice of talks and I opted for ‘Promoting neurodiversity – realising the underlying potential all around us’ presented by Dr Laura Watkin and Jamie Mewburn-Crook from the National Physical Laboratory.

This talk was around explaining what neurodiversity is, and how easy it is to make the small changes in the workplace which can help those with neurodiverse minds.

As someone who believes they could be neurodiverse this was useful in finding out how to approach these conversations in the workplace, but also great to find out the tools available in programs like Office to make documents and presentations more accessible. The talk on at the same time as this one was a very popular talk about Ethics with Adam Donnan from the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Dr Andy Borrie from the British Association of Sports and Exercise Sciences.

At the end of the neurodiversity talk we had the opportunity to play with some of the items they had provided for their staff including pens, tinted sheets for laying over documents to read easier, and fidget toys.

After lunchtime, where I chatted with a few different people from different member bodies over food, the afternoon session began which I attended in the auditorium.

A series of three talks took place, the first was ‘Team Leadership – a masterclass in connecting with your team’ by Tim McLachlan the CEO of the Institute of Food Science & Technology.

Tim discussed his approach to connecting with people, the use of a ‘One Page Profile’ on which you can note the different things about yourself that you think are important for other people to know, including what communication types you prefer and which you dislike. We were able to complete our own one page profiles and take the template away to use in our own workplaces.

The second talk was by JP Ashton-Kinlin titled ‘How to make yourself transferable’. JP has worked in a number of different areas, and now owns his own company, but the way he did this was to move around by applying transferable skills from one area and using them to apply for other jobs.

He explained how to look at your current work and see what skills you have that could be used in another area, one you perhaps think you have no chance of being successful at applying for. He discussed how to use this on your CV and used his own career path as an example.

The third, and final, talk in this section was by AAPT Council member Robert Cast RSciTech MAAPT who I was very proud to be able to support.

Robert’s talk was titled ‘Breaking glass ceilings - an unusual APT career journey’ and covered Robert's career from his college education in Ireland through to his current position as a Mortuary Manager in Scotland.

This was presented in a way that saw the different stages of his career and how he found many times where it felt like there was nowhere to go, but each time he pushed through and persevered with moving forward and achieving what he wanted. Not only was this a great example to others about determination and not giving up, but it also highlighted Robert’s passion for his career and why being an APT is so important to him.

At the same time of these three talks, the other talks were on topics of making science greener, reflective practice and on achieving CSci registration. After another short break, during the final session of the day I attended a talk by Dr Hannah Roberts who is a Leadership and Coach Trainer.

Hannah discussed very frankly and openly about imposter syndrome, her own experiences with it and how to overcome this sensation. I often suffer with imposter syndrome, and as I now discovered sometimes ‘meta-imposter syndrome’, which I feel can hold me back and sometimes make me feel very uncomfortable about reaching out for opportunities or speaking out. The main thing from this talk that stood out for me, was the sheer number of people in there who were well established scientists in their own fields who felt the same as I do.

The day closed with a thank you from Dr Helen Pain of the Royal Society of Chemistry who opened the day, and she said that this was hopefully the first of many events like this to come.

I hope this is the case as it was a brilliant day with fascinating talks and many opportunities to meet others from the wider scientifc and technical community.

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