School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences

John Gallagher

John Gallagher

BSc in Physiological Sciences, graduated July 2018, First Class Honours Degree

Current Position: NSHCS Scientist Training Programme (STP)

In September 2018 I began the NSHCS Scientist Training Program (STP) in the field of GI Physiology. The STP is a 3-year work-based training role in which you are trained within NHS hospitals, as a trainee clinical scientist, to perform diagnostic tests relating to your speciality. This is supplemented by a taught 3-year part time master’s degree, which in the subject of GI Physiology is taught here at Newcastle University. My role as a trainee clinical scientist in a GI Physiology setting is to become competent in investigating disorders of peristalsis, acid reflux, constipation, faecal incontinence, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, lactose intolerance, and H. pylori infection. There is also a degree of cross-over with urodynamic science, in which you learn how to investigate functional lower urinary tract disorders. A large focus of the STP is to enable you to think of ways that practice can be improved, and then to enable you to conduct the research necessary to test your ideas.

I originally studied Biomedical Science and transferred to Physiological Science at the end of stage 1 after completing the taster modules. In my first year I attended some optional “Biomed+” lectures aimed to give insight into possible careers that a Biomedical Science degree could lead to, and it was in one of these lectures that I learned about the STP. The school also organised STP trainees to come in to talk about their specialties and the STP itself. When talking to these trainees, it became clear that lab experience would be beneficial in gaining a place. I therefore spoke to Dr Chris Ward, a lecturer for the respiratory module of the Physiological Science course, and he helped me gain a summer placement in a lab, which then led to me presenting my findings at the national CF conference that year. This was invaluable, as it gave me a lot to talk about in terms of research experience, but the experience of previously presenting my data at a conference, greatly improved my confidence when presenting data at work related conferences. I found the GI module lead by Professor David Thwaites fascinating, and this made me want to pursue GI sciences further.

Physiological Science prepared me very well for my current role. It gave me the knowledge behind how multiple organ systems work and interact down to the cellular level. This has been fundamental to my success so far as it has provided me with knowledge of the physiology involved in the organ systems relevant to my role, so I am now able to focus on applying my knowledge to the clinical setting. Where I do not have the knowledge, the degree has provided me with the skills to be able to learn using journals, which is a very useful skill in the clinical setting. It has also provided me with the critical thinking skills to enable me to perform my own research. All staff within the school of biomedical science were always incredibly supportive, and all lecturers were always delighted to answer questions, and help in any way that they could.

John Gallagher