Jaspreet ‘JP’ Haywood and Laura Camplese have recently completed their professional registration with the Science Council. JP works as a Research Assistant in the Genomics Facility, and Laura is a Research Assistant and lab manager for the Metabolism and Cell Growth group. We sat down with them to discuss what professional registration means, and why you should think about getting yours too.
How did you get into your technical role?
JP: After finishing university, I decided embarking on a PhD wasn’t for me, but I still wanted to utilise my degree and work at the forefront of genetic research. Working as a research assistant gives me the opportunity to think for myself and apply my knowledge to each research project we work on whilst also having the opportunity to constantly increase my skill set.
Laura: After completing a degree in biomedical science, I worked for a year in a bioresources facility at the NIMR (now part of the Francis Crick Institute). I wanted to be more involved in research, therefore I volunteered in a research group in my spare time. After gaining a bit more experience, I applied for the Research Assistant role in the Metabolism and Cell Growth group.
What is professional registration?
Laura: Professional registration provides recognition of your achievements, competences and knowledge, as well as commitment to maintain the standards required to be part of the professional scientist community. I believe the Registered Scientist (RSci) award has raised my profile as professional as it allows me to demonstrate a level of competence in my job and my commitment to continuing professional development. Being publicly recognised as a professional scientist, and having reflected on what I have achieved in my career so far, has also boosted my confidence.
Why did you apply for your professional registration?
JP: I applied in order to collate all the different skills I have accumulated over the years into a recognised qualification. It shows that I am at the standard required to be recognised as a professional scientist. I can now add it to my CV, should I seek future employment, demonstrating the standard that I am at. It also allows me to be recognised by colleagues as a professional, as all of us research assistants are.
Laura: I was inspired by the LMS support staff meeting we had back in March. At the meeting, we discussed the application structure and a colleague who had been awarded the title shared his experience. This made me realise that professional registration was achievable and that it could be beneficial for my career progression, future jobs opportunities and personal development.
How did you apply for professional registration, and were there any challenges along the way?
JP: I applied for professional registration online via the interview route. The online application process is very straightforward and has plenty of supporting information on the website. The headings for each section are rather complicated, but one of links explains in layman terms exactly which experiences/skills you may have that they want you reflect on. The most challenging aspect for me was blowing my own trumpet! It definitely took a few drafts before I was able to confidently remove the word “we” and instead tell them about all the wonderful things that I do and all the fantastic skills I have.
Laura: It can be a bit challenging to come up with good detailed examples to prove you meet the criteria for that specific area. Having a think about your job responsibilities, your day-to-day role and the contribution you make to projects and more generally at work can also be a highly introspective experience, but satisfying at the same time.
What are the next steps for you now that you have your professional registration?
Laura: Completing the competence report gave me the opportunity to reflect on my skills, abilities, knowledge and standards at work. It has made me realise that I’ve learned a lot in the time I’ve been working in this role, that I love my job and it’s a great career path. As part of the registration I have to a produce a report on the CPD attained throughout the year, therefore I am looking at courses, conferences and events I can attend in order to keep up to date with regulations and policies, and to further improve my skills and competences. This could help me to progress from RSci to Chartered status. Now that I have my professional registration and am an affiliate member of the Royal Society of Biology I would like to become a mentor for applicants at work offering support or advice, and to be part of events promoting professional registration to share my experience and encourage colleagues to apply.
JP: As a registered scientist, I now hope to continue my professional development and aim to gain the skills to qualify as a chartered scientist in a few years.
What advice would you give to others about the process?
JP: The hardest part of the process is starting. Once you put pen to paper and jot down some ideas, it really does get easier. I advise prospective applicants to apply via the interview route rather than the written route. As there is an interview at the end (which is more like an informal chat about your application!), you don’t need to go into too much detail as you can explain in depth during the interview. The written route is more time consuming, so it will potentially take longer to gain your qualification as any queries/clarification the assessors may require require you to amend and send your application back and forth until they are happy. I am more than happy to help/advise anyone who is thinking about applying so please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Laura: I would advise applicants to assign a specific time slot in their weekly plan to dedicate to the application and to write down examples to expand on later. Having completed some of the easier sections of the competence report, I felt I was making good progress and it really motivated me to sit down and finish. Also, I found the Science Council Masterclass very helpful; the workshop provides tips and advice, including suggestions on which examples to use for each section. Also, the Science Council website offers lots of support through blogs, videos and articles with tips and common mistakes.