Karen Doyle is a Cancer Research UK Senior Research Nurse at the University of Birmingham. Here she talks about her career so far and her experiences as a STEM Ambassador.
How did you first become interested in STEM as a career?
I attended a 'Meet the Scientist' session at Thinktank, Birmingham.
What pathway did you follow to get where you are?
I knew I needed at least 5 O’levels to enter nurse training at 18. I applied for a pre nursing course at the local college which included GCSE’s. The course was ideal as it included 1 day a week work experience in different caring environments (e.g. mental health, disability, hospital etc).
However, I managed to get 5 O’Levels so transferred straight onto the pre nursing course with A Levels.
Was there a moment or intervention that prompted your career choice?
I knew that I wanted to work with people, and my careers interview at school highlighted this. I also had a part time job helping in a local residential home at weekends, which helped me decide that I wanted to train as a nurse
What skills and qualities are required for your job?
I represent Cancer Research UK locally and work within a large Clinical Trials Unit to help deliver early phase clinical trials to patients. Attention to detail is very important, as is the ability to work within a team but also autonomously to deadlines. I also have excellent communication skills and interpersonal skills, presentation skills.
Describe a typical day in your role:
I work 4 days a week and have a huge amount of variety in my weeks. Each day I have to check e-mails for urgent messages, particularly those relating to clinical trials, press requests, etc. This can often mean re-arranging the day at short notice if things need attention. On average I spend two days in clinic with cancer patients, many of which have failed on all standard treatments and are helping us to trial new treatments. I have ongoing ‘projects’ at various times – may be writing a business case, setting up a new course, training, writing papers, supervising students, health promotion on reducing the risk of cancer, local engagement activities etc, which will take up much of the time.
What inspires you about your work and/or about STEM?
I love helping and working with people, many of which are at a point of crisis in their life. I have the opportunity to engage with local communities and help promote messages to reduce the risk of developing cancer.
Working with STEM allows me to share this with the next generation and help inspire them to follow a path that they will be able to excel in.
Could you offer any advice to young people?
I have managed to achieve so much in my career, and I am now one of 16 Cancer Research UK Senior Nurses in the country. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had so one piece of advice I would give is to follow any opportunities that open up to you – however small they may appear.