“I really feel it’s a great introduction to public engagement and a fantastic way to explain what biomedical science is all about.” — Hayley Pincott, University Dental Hospital
Hayley Pincott took part in I’m a Scientist in June 2018, spending two weeks chatting with school students about her role as an Associate Practitioner Healthcare Scientist at a University Dental Hospital. Hayley found the experience flexible enough to fit around the workload of a public sector scientist, and it gave her the skills and confidence to do further public engagement.
Accessible to those with busy working lives
Hayley was recommended the I’m a Scientist activity by a friend who’d previously taken part, but admits she was initially “slightly dubious about how easy it seemed to fit in around work.”
It didn’t take long for her to “completely fall in love” with the experience, though. “You don’t have to go out to visit, and it can all be done as and when you have time.”
This flexibility throughout the two weeks helped her balance the activity with her day job, and even when her availability changed she was still able to engage with students at a time that suited her.
“I could sign up to as many live chats as I wanted, and if my workload meant I could no longer attend a live chat then there was no pressure… there is always ASK [questions from students], which can be done at any time.”
Introducing students to biomedical science
Before taking part, Hayley had visited a few primary schools to talk about her role in biomedical science and pathology. Through I’m a Scientist, she hoped to “reach a different audience and give pupils another possible career choice that they might not have even heard of previously.”
Talking with students in the live chatroom and answering their questions through the I’m a Scientist website offered Hayley “a really simple but effective way to engage young people in a scientific career they might never have heard about.
“My main goal was to try and explain that to be good at my job doesn’t need me to be highly intelligent – it needs me to have a specific skill set… I just wanted pupils to take away the message that science, and a scientific career, needn’t be unachievable.”
The confidence for further engagement
Following “some amazing chats with great students”, Hayley felt she’d gained the confidence to do more public engagement with a range of audiences, not just the primary age students she’d previously had experience with.
“Having this new confidence in reaching out to this age group has meant that I’ve written an article aimed at teenage girls, and have tried to organise a few events that targets a wider variety of people.”
Hayley is also continuing to engage with students in I’m a Scientist through the Careers Zone, answering questions about her career path, what it’s like working in a University Dental Hospital and the wider world of biomedical science.