Meet the Team – Hayley Pincott

Hayley (she/her) is an Associate Practitioner in Oral Pathology and Microbiology at the University Dental Hospital in Cardiff. Her role is to prepare slides from biopsies for a specialist doctor called a pathologist to look at under the microscope and make a diagnosis so patients can get the correct treatment. 

Hayley has worked within Biomedical Science laboratories, found within pathology departments, in the NHS for around 20 years. She has also worked in various different disciplines including Blood Bank, Haematology and Antenatal Screening Wales. 

Hayley didn’t follow the traditional educational route, but has worked her way up into her current role, and has found that completing courses whilst working has helped her to maintain a healthy work life balance.

Favourite colour: Silver

Favourite food: Easy…..Chips!!

Favourite number: I don’t really have a lucky number
Favourite car: I’m not a petrol head however I love watching F1, so my answer would be Mercedes AMG Petronas (Lewis Hamilton fan here!!)

What inspires me: Just knowing that my role makes a difference to patients. The NHS is a huge machine and I’m an extremely small cog however together we all play big part in patient care. I’m involved in providing a diagnostic service so doctors know what is wrong with the patient and therefore know how to treat them. 

There are many people I look up to, Dr Jo Horne being one, she’s one of a few Biomedical Scientists who has taken on extra training so she can report cases like a pathologist. Jo is one of only a few people who have accomplished this, she is really keen to promote the profession and is always championing training and education within the field. 

Professor Avril Mansfield is another woman who inspires me, she was the first female professor of surgery and has pioneered stroke treatment which is still used today. 

There are loads of people outside the scientific community that I look up to. For instance Eddie the Eagle Edwards was a complete underdog and was laughed at by many people but he made it to the winter Olympics against all odds and he never gave up, he had a dream and just went for it. Mainly my grandad is a massive inspiration to me, I have such a great relationship with him and I really admire him, his work ethic is incredible, he’s 90 this year and he still works. He also helped to raise money to build a childrens hospital in Gloucester.

Three words that describe me: Fun, enthusiastic, curious

If you weren’t doing science what would you be doing:I really like art and drawing so I think I’d be doing something creative, however my dream job is to be an astronaut.

What do you like most about being a scientist:I love that my job makes a difference. Biomedical Science is involved in around 70% of all diagnoses made, and the service we provide is to help treat, diagnose, and monitor diseases. 

I’ve also taken part in various public engagement activities and events, my favourite thing about taking part in these is the questions I get asked. I think providing these workshops and hosting events is important as it not only gives us a platform to showcase our scientific roles but also demonstrates how different we all are and we don’t fit into the stereotypical mould of a scientist.

Name three things you can’t live without/get you motivated: The first thing is music, when I’m in work the radio goes on and I sing along very badly but it helps the day go quicker and I make sure nobody is within earshot. Secondly my amazing colleagues are the main reason I can do what I do. I’ve had incredible opportunities like helping to create a childrens comic, and because of this I’ve won awards for my outreach and was a finalist in the first Advancing Healthcare Awards Wales. I really couldn’t do it without their continued support and encouragement. Lastly my family keep me motivated, especially my children. They enjoy coming along to help at festivals and are constantly asking me very taxing questions which I love and hope they don’t stop.

What one piece of advice would you give someone thinking about a scientific/STEM career: When I was at school I really didn’t enjoy science, I didn’t understand it and therefore didn’t consider a scientific career. However my grandad was and still is a huge inspiration to me, he’s always encouraged me to keep learning and he arranged for me to have a look around the Haematology lab at my local hospital. I couldn’t believe how I instantly felt at home in the lab, and by the end of the day I was really keen to work in a biomedical science lab. I think for myself I just could understand how to apply the knowledge learnt in the classroom to a practical setting and when I was shown it made me realise that I did want a scientific career. 

My advice would be keep an open mind, there are hundreds of various STEM careers and each one requires its own set of skills and knowledge that you might have. For example I’m quite creative, in Histology it’s very hands on and we have to produce a slide to look at down the microscope, so this aspect appeals to that side of me. Other disciplines are very automated which could appeal to people who are very technical and have a mathematical brain as there are many figures produced for a blood test for example. I would also say never give up, some fields are very very competitive and chances are you will be rejected quite a few times, however, how you handle this is just as important as getting a position and you can use this experience to grow as a person. It’s difficult not to take it personally but you can’t and you shouldn’t compare yourself to others so use the negative experience and get something positive out of it.

You can follow Hayley on Twitter: @HayleyPincott