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Kate Williams

Career Path: Clinical Physiologist in Neurophysiology, NHS
Location: Preston, UK

I have always been interested in the human body and how different diseases and disorders are diagnosed and then treated. For that reason I chose a degree which taught me exactly that! During my time at university I studied a variety of different modules a few of which included neuroscience and physiology. I found myself really interested in such modules so I looked in to jobs which would include both. I had decided the laboratory was not for me and that working with patients and as part of a large team would be much more enjoyable. That is when I found out about Clinical Physiologists in Neurophysiology which did exactly that!

What are you doing now?

After university I worked in the NHS for 5 years as a Neurophysiology Scientist carrying out tests on out-patients and in-patients to help diagnose neurological disorders such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, carpal tunnel syndrome etc. I am currently living in Australia working as a Neurophysiology Scientist in theatres mainly in neurosurgeries such as scoliosis corrections, brain tumours removal, epilepsy surgeries and aneurysm bypasses. I provide live feedback to the surgeon about the patient's nervous system during the surgery to make sure the patient wakes up with no neurological deficit. Once I return to the UK I hope I can do a mix of intraoperative monitoring and clinics. 

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

The university offered the degree I wanted to do! When I visited the university on open days everyone was very friendly and helpful. From this I knew that I would be supported throughout my degree. The campus is right next to the city centre so everything I needed was right there! All of the facilities at Northumbria were brilliant especially the sports centre. Being part of the university swim team was a factor in my decision and having such facilities was definitely a bonus!

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

The course was extremely varied with regular laboratory sessions, seminars and team projects mixed in with the standard lectures. The variation helped keep interest and gave me opportunity to work in different environments. This meant there was a well-rounded mix of assessments too. Feedback was given back in numerous ways and if you ever wanted a better explanation or a bit more feedback lecturers were always happy to help.

What impressed you most about our academic staff?

Their 'open door' approach was great! They always had time for you and answered any questions you needed answering.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/give your career an edge?

I was unsure on what career path I wanted to choose until my final year of university when I had realised which modules I really enjoyed and had the chance to do my own research project. The research projects were fairly flexible which gave me chance to pick an area I was most interested in and was something I was able to talk about in applications to strengthen them.

What was the best thing about your course?

The best thing about my course was having such a variation of modules with passionate lecturers.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

In my job I use generic human biology knowledge but especially the neurology/neuroanatomy. I have also gained great communication and organisation skills from giving presentations and working with groups and lecturers, which employers are always looking for and are great now for when I have trainees working with me. 

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

I enjoyed the degree but I also loved that I made friends with people I don’t think I’ll ever loose contact with.

What advice would you give somebody who is thinking of studying at Northumbria?

Get involved, give everything a try and enjoy!

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in 3 words?

Fun, challenging and invaluable.

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