Profile: Claire Richardson

Years at the University: 2002-2006
Degree awarded: F1BF, MChem, Chemistry with Pharmacology. First Class
Current employment details: Senior Clinical Biochemist at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Personal View

I applied for a Grade A trainee Clinical Biochemist position in the November of the fourth year of my degree. I wanted a career that allowed me to utilise both my laboratory skills and the Chemistry and Pharmacology knowledge obtained during my degree. I have always been interested in medicine and health care and discovered this job after browsing on the internet! Competition for a trainee clinical biochemist post was strong with over 300 applicants for six trainee positions in the North West of England with the majority of applicants accepted having a PhD. As I knew this was the career for me I requested a research project in the fourth year of my degree to contain laboratory skills that I knew I needed for a career in clinical biochemistry. The research project I was given was titled ‘Preparation and Characterisation of lipase-gold nanoparticle conjugates’ and was performed in the bionanotechnology laboratory at the University.  The project involved the use of a range of biochemical techniques including a desalting column, agarose and SDS-page electrophoresis, UV spectroscopy and fluorescence based detection systems.  

Following completion of my Grade A training I successfully obtained a senior Clinical Biochemist post in Glasgow and have gained state registration with the Health Professions Council. My job as a clinical biochemist includes:

  • Clinical interpretation and authorisation of abnormal patient blood and urine results
  • Answering queries on investigations and sample requirements from medical staff
  • Method development. I have developed a method for the analysis of plasma and whole blood manganese on an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and I am currently developing and evaluating a supported liquid extraction method for vitamin D prior to analysis by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry
  • Auditing laboratory processes
  • Quality Control Identifying the cause of and resolving any poor analytical performance problems
  • Training staff, reviewing the need for staff training, supervising MSc students, and giving lectures to medical undergraduates
  • Writing reports, submitting funding bids and conducting research
  • Obtaining further qualifications including an MSc in Clinical Biochemistry and I am currently studying for my FRCPath qualification which will allow me to apply for a Consultant Clinical Biochemist position
  • Attending and contributing to local and national scientific meetings and conferences
  • Managing a clinical biochemical laboratory as my career progresses

The majority of successful applicants into this profession have a degree in Biochemistry. I believe carrying out my Masters project in bionanotechnology in addition to the range of knowledge and skills gained from studying Chemistry with Pharmacology at the University of Liverpool is why I got offered this position. Liverpool is a fantastic city to study and live in. The support given by the staff in the department was exceptional. My favourite aspect of the course was applying the knowledge gained in the lectures to the laboratory projects.