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Membership of BSH is open to anyone engaged in the practice or study of haematology, including medical consultants and trainees, clinical and biomedical scientists, specialist nurses and other allied health professionals. Read on to learn about the different journeys some of our members have had in their careers.

Meet Professor Mhairi Copland, Professor of Translational Haematology, Glasgow University

 

 

  1. Why did you choose to specialise in Haematology?

I chose to specialise in Haematology for a number of reasons. Firstly, I enjoy the mix of clinical and laboratory medicine and the opportunity to undertake both clinical and basic research. Secondly, it is a very rewarding specialty and you are able to build really excellent relationships with patients over many years. I think clinical Haematology is quite a holistic specialty as you look after patients from making the diagnosis all the way through their treatment journey. It is also a very fast moving field with new drugs and other therapies frequently becoming available, improving outcomes for patients.

  1. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of the job is seeing patients who are in remission after intensive treatment getting back to living their lives, returning to university or work, and enjoying time with their friends and family. However, I also enjoy the research aspects of my job, and seeing your work presented or published is a great feeling.

  1. What are the toughest problems you have to deal with?

The toughest problems are having to break bad news to patients and their families. Unfortunately, although treatments continue to improve, not all patients are cured and many patients relapse or have refractory haematological malignancies.

  1. What advice would you give to your younger self at the start of your career?

I have given this a lot of thought and I’m not sure I would change very much. I think it’s important to get a broad range of experience in different medical specialties before entering Specialist Training. Early in my Haematology training, I would say, try to take as many educational opportunities as you can and enjoy it.

  1. How do you see the field of Haematology (or your specialist area) changing in the future?

Increasingly, we will see more personalised medicine with the introduction of novel agents for different subtypes of AML, for example. Next generation sequencing is going to have a major role in developing these personalised or ‘precision’ medicine approaches. In addition, I think immunotherapies are going to have a major role to play over the next ten years or so and we are only beginning to see these agents improving outcomes for patients – there is still a long way to go. With an ageing population, people living longer and with multiple therapies now available for conditions such as CML and myeloma, clinics are going to get much busier and I think there will be an increasing role for clinical nurse specialists in managing these patients.

  1. What was the most influential session for you at this year’s BSH ASM and why?

There was a great session on acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. It covered all aspects of the condition and highlighted the new immunological therapies which are becoming available.

  1. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

I would go back to Central or South America. I am really interested in the ancient meso American cultures such as the Maya and the Inca and I’d love the opportunity to spend more time there.

 

 

Ieuan Walker our 2014-2016 Education Committee Student Representative

 

What interests you about Haematology?
It is one of the fastest paced specialties in terms of research. Watching how fast advances in molecular biology translate into clinical practice is really incredible. Similarly the opportunity to form long-term relationships with your patients is something that really appeals to me. Plus, whenever you mention that you like Haematology to another medical student they immediately think you must be clever (how wrong they are!)

What would you say to other medical students interested in learning more about Haematology?
It’s great! It can be really daunting as a specialty, but haematologists are lovely! There are so many opportunities to get involved in the specialty; local audits and research projects always seem to be in abundance, and that’s a great way to learn more about the specialty. For Med students who want to learn more for exams and build their confidence in Haem, the BSH education days are where I started – they made exams a lot easier!

What would be the highlight of your time as the BSH Student Representative on the Education Committee?
Having the opportunity to present at the British Society for Haematology's ASM. It was a great experience to be able to attend, and I learnt a lot while being there. 

Which opportunities do you find offer the greatest opportunity to learn a great deal?
Getting involved in an audit with the Haematology team as a medical student really opened doors, and I found so many more opportunities to get involved in projects – that was when I thought the specialty might be for me.

What was the most influential session for you at this year’s conference?
Tim Littlewood’s Gold Medal Lecture, 'Teaching Haematology: Art, Science and Humanity' was absolutely brilliant and inspiring stuff - one of the best 45 minutes you will listen to.

If you could witness any event of the past, present, or future, what would it be?
Nirvana’s Live and Unplugged in New York in 1993 (I was a little young!) 

 

Dr Choudhuri the BSH Regional Representative for NW England and N Wales

 

Why did you choose to specialise in Haematology? 
I chose to specialise in Haematology as it offered a varied clinical experience from specialist areas, such as the treatment of cancers, to more generalist areas such as the assessment of anaemia or the management of problems associated with haemostasis and thrombosis. This combination is the perfect mix of active patient contact on the ward, outpatient and academic laboratory-based roles. No other specialities offer all of these under one roof.

What do you wish you had known when you first contemplated this career?
I had been a junior doctor in Haematology in very busy centres and as such was aware of the general pros and cons. If you’re simply based on the wards, your perspective can be limited to patients with a poor long-term outcome. It was reassuring to find that there are so many patients who are doing well in the long run despite having a haematological diagnosis. This came to light once I started training in the speciality.

What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?
Always putting the patient at the forefront of everything you do. I also think it’s important to be a team player and to value the opinion of all colleagues who you work with, whether they’re medical or non-medical, as well as being able to admit when you don’t know something, and being able to learn from others.

How do you see the field of Haematology (or your specialist area) changing in the future?
A few things come to mind, such as the centralisation of laboratory functions for diagnostics, a move away from toxic chemotherapeutic agents to less toxic alternative drugs and an increasing focus on strengthening infrastructure based on how various MDTs function. A lot of newer agents, available for treatment in the setting of relapsed CLL, Myeloma and CML setting, are showing promise. Furthermore, there is a greater emphasis on spreading haematological education and awareness, with the BSH's recruitment of regional Education Leads playing an important part.

Which opportunities offer the greatest opportunity to learn a great deal?
I think that listening to and working closely with both our colleagues, patients and carers offers opportunities to better our practice. This can be strengthened by adopting an evidence-based approach to our practice through accessing the resources available such as peer-reviewed journals and, of course, through societies such as the BSH.

What was the most influential session for you at this year’s conference and why?
It has to be the BSH Medal Lecture by Dr Tim Littlewood entitled 'Teaching Haematology: Art, Science and Humanity'. The take home messages were very pertinent to current haematological training in the UK, which is to teach the curriculum before possibly more esoteric topics, and to use every contact with a student or junior doctor as a learning opportunity, which I absolutely believe in and actively practice myself. What I found most interesting was his use of video recordings of patients to teach about the impact of disease on the patients themselves and the importance of proper communication putting it all in perspective. I feel very passionate about education myself and thought his presentation was heartfelt and extremely inspiring.

What was one of your most defining moments in life?
That’s easy…the birth of my children!

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
I’d choose Kolkata in India. The fact that the streets are so vibrant and buzzing irrespective of the time of day is so endearing to me, not to mention my mum’s home cooked curry!

Meet Dr Augustina Ikusemoro, University of Benin Teaching Hospital

Why did you choose to specialise in Haematology?
I chose to specialise in Haematology because while in medical school, I naturally had a flare for the subspecialty. I loved it and understood it quite easily. Also, here in Nigeria, it is a subspecialty that is not yet being explored, and is less populated. With my special interest in blood transfusion medicine, I see it as a privilege to contribute and help develop the blood transfusion service in my country. 

What do you do during a typical working day?
On a typical work day, we schedule a ward round which begins at 8am, after which we proceed to the laboratory to review some slides on peripheral blood films with the residents. This creates discussion and inspires teaching sessions. At other times we run an outpatient clinic as well.

What do you wish you had known when you first contemplated this career?
Nothing at all, because I love and have always wanted to be a haematologist.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is saving lives in respect to blood transfusion.

What are the toughest problems you have to deal with?
The toughest problem I have to deal with is in the management of haematological malignancies in a resource-poor country where many patients cannot afford most of the chemotherapeutic agents required for managing these malignancies. Availability is also a big challenge. Most of the drugs are not available to us.