Where Are You Now?

Carl Onwochei 

BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science 2019 

Position and company: Trainee Specialist Biomedical Scientist (Microbiology) Public Health Wales NHS Trust, Swansea.

Carl Onwochei is seeing success on his journey to become a biomedical scientist. He is putting in the hard work for a career to directly involve himself in the treatment decisions of his patients.

Carl, 36, explained: “In my current role I support medical diagnoses and treatment monitoring by using my skills in microbiology to investigate the cause of infection and to look at the best antibiotic treatment.

“I have always been passionate about delivering good quality care for the benefit of patients. As someone who lives with a chronic illness that relies on laboratory testing, I am acutely aware of the importance of these results and how they determine patient management.” 

He added: “I’m quite an organised person. I suppose you have to be in this job, so I’m always planning and working to time-frames – I enjoy routine, but I also enjoy variety so if I’m not at the bench issuing reports, then I am training new doctors and Biomedical science students – I’m part of both the training team and quality team within the department so I’m always on the go.” 

Carl’s commitment and dedication to his job was recognised at the Advancing Healthcare Awards 2023 where he was a winner under the rising star category. Carl said this has been one of his great achievements to date. 

Asked about his biggest challenge, Carl replied: “It was relocating from Sunderland to Wales as I had no real plan. It took quite a bit of effort and a lot of rejections to secure a trainee biomedical scientist position. It was (and is) a lot of hard work, but simultaneously very rewarding.” 

Carl, from Middlesbrough, is the first person in his family to go to university, having come from a traditional working-class background. He was initially offered a place studying Human Biology at Teesside University, but last minute he decided that he liked the sound of the course Sunderland had to offer in terms of accreditation and support. 

Talking about his experience at the University of Sunderland, Carl said: “I think all the academic staff were wonderful. I cannot praise the academic staff enough for their support during my three years study and I have taken many of the skills taught into my career. I think the teaching delivery challenged me to think critically, which has really prepared me for the additional duties I have been given in my role.” 

So what advice does Carl offer to recent graduates entering the job market? 

“It depends on what you want to do when you graduate,” he said. “If you want a career in the NHS, my best advice would be to do everything you can to secure a year in-service to complete the certificate of competence. Even if you decide an NHS career is not for you, I would still advocate a year in industry developing professional laboratory skills. Those are the kinds of skills employers’ value. Also, try to get involved in any extracurricular activities to strengthen your CV.” 

Carl added: “The best piece of advice I ever received was don’t compare yourself to anyone else. We are all running our own race, so I think it’s important to just focus on what you have achieved, and what you have planned.” 

Carl is about to finish his Master’s degree, which he has been studying part-time distance learning. He is also undertaking his specialist diploma in medical microbiology and a course at Cardiff University in genomic medicine. 

He explained: “My career plans are to rise through the Banding system and hopefully enter a role as a Clinical Scientist or a Clinical liaison Biomedical Scientist (Band 7 role). I don’t really see myself in management as I much prefer to be directly involved in the treatment decisions of patients. Following that, the HSST and work towards my consultancy, but we are a long time away from that.” 

Carl concluded: “I would like to be remembered as someone who gave everything he had. I love what I do, and I love people and I’m fiercely proud to be a part of this glorious institution we call the NHS.”

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