Bsc Medical Physiology to Research Technician
Name: Adama Saccoh ( she/her)
Course/ job: Cardiovascular Imaging Research Assistant/ Technician
A levels: Biology Chemistry Maths Economics
Undergrad and post grad degrees:
Bsc Medical Physiology
Msc Medical Ultrasound ( Echocardiography)
Favourite science fact: humans don’t taste spicy food but feel it and its because our pain receptors are activated. As a spicy food lover it just shows I like pain lol ! Shoutout TRPV1
Journey in 3 Words: Confusing, Hard, Passion-driven
What motivated you to pursue a career in science: I find the human body incredibly fascinating. I remember learning about the heart and circulation and that just stayed with me. I liked learning about how and why we worked. It did start by me wanting to pursue medicine which I have written about: Dr or else. My curiosity is what has kept me in science !
Briefly describe your role and course: I have described my Bsc in a previous post: Bsc Medical Physiology. In summary that course was everything about the human body and had bits of neuroscience, physiology, pharmacology and genetics. It was the perfect foundation for learning different processes in the body at a ‘basic science( cellular and molecular)’ level. My Msc on the other hand was very different and was focused on imaging of the heart using ultrasound ( Echocardiography). It was clinically focused on the presentation ie diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. My final year project involved using relatively new software to track changes in the right heart of pulmonary hypertensive patients in order to predict their chances of death and or hospitalisation. Finally my role as a cardiovascular imaging assistant uses skills from both my undergrad and postgrad. I mainly use ultrasound to follow preclinical models of cardiovascular disease and treatment methods. I haven’t been in it for 6 months yet so there is still a lot to learn ! A typical week or month will involve scanning animals, practicing surgery procedures, reading papers, lab meetings and finishing any other training I have to do.
Do you have a career plan? What is it? Why do you do what you do?
I have a rough idea of what I want to do but I have strayed away from having a solid plan. I made The Career Plan series for my blog as my “plans” during my Msc year were more or less stepped on. I am leaning more into what I enjoy but also having clear goals on where I want to be and constantly checking in with myself to see if things have changed. In short if i was to describe my plan I want to merge my love for science, learning, design and communication in everything I do !
Whats your favourite part of your job: I get paid to learn ! It was a weird concept to deal with at first. I genuinely enjoy reading papers and thinking ( I say this now because I don’t have loads of pressure on me) but as long as I am learning and challenged it weirdly sparks joy ! I love the fact that no week is the same !
Work- Life Balance: I consider “work” as everything I do that involves my actual brain power and attention.My white board deserves all the credit here. Ever since I started planning out me week ( EVERY SUNDAY) It’s allowed me to fully think about what I do.This led to the blog post: Am I do too much or too little. By planning out my week and also overworking myself ( which isn’t good) I have realised when I need breaks and what is a realistic time frame for me. I don’t think you can ever really perfect the work-life balance as it is a difficult scale but having check ins and some form of a gauge of what you do and setting boundaries with yourself make it easier to not feel like you’ve lost control all the time. I have also started using notion ( I know I am late to sort of map out ideas and have less random notes everywhere).
What is most important when choosing a masters degree - biggest lessons learnt
A masters degree should only be done when you feel the timing is right. It should be in something you are passionate about ! It is genuinely hard and academia will always be there so if you need a mental break you should definitely take one! This is something I wish I did and in part why I didn’t rush any Phd applications. I needed time to pause and enjoy the moment I am in.
Another point is don’t focus on the general ranking of the institution and instead really pick apart the course you want to do. Compare the modules of different universities and make sure you are getting the most of what you want.
Finally, put your all into your degree. In my undergrad I shyed away a little from how much I liked science. Fully immerse yourself into your course not because of the grades but its a lot of time and effort and you want to be proud of what would be a very challenging year.
Why didn’t you go from a masters to Phd?
Truthfully I wasn’t in the right environment lol. It wasn’t something I was avoiding but life happens and I guess it said “not yet”. The academic system isn’t the best and you really need to be supported to do a Phd or be in a good mental space to push yourself ( which I wasn’t) - See Academia is the ghetto
What advice would you give on dealing with rejection and perseverance?
Rejection is just inevitable. I would advise having a coping mechanism. Personally I assume rejection in every application process even though I want it ( it doesn't make sense but it helps me deal with it)
Perseverance: If you're not doing it for yourself then stop. It's easier to stick at something when you are doing it for you. Not looking at external recognition, that way if a mad man tells you that you can’t do something it really won’t phase you at all !
When considering your career path, how much has your potential salary affected your decision?
The final decision to do my masters was made based on salary. I knew NHS jobs paid well and with the potential to start at band 6 ( £30,000) I was sold. Later on through my course I would say I realised it just wasn’t the right fit for me and that’s when money couldn't even motivate me. For my overall career as that is a journey, salary will always be a deciding factor but passion and mental peace will rank higher than the pay. I do work in academia right now so I am still figuring out how to make the best of my skills to earn what I want because I know it is possible!
Outside science how would you describe yourself
Ha ! Outside science I do more science lol ( this blog) . But outside of that I really just enjoy the most stupid things and proudly binge netflix shows. I am all about leaning into things that purely spark joy
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