Kelly Duffy is passionate about horses.
She began riding at the age of five in Bradford, in the West Yorkshire region of the United Kingdom, and still rides every day. She practices Parelli Natural Horsemanship, teaching others to understand their animals in a kinder and gentler manner, building a partnership with your horse based on trust, not force.
But in those early days, Kelly also saw how scientists were constantly discovering new things, and how ideas from a decade before may have been turned on its side.
“The world of science is constantly evolving. It's always changing and we're always learning,” she said. “It doesn't stay the same. There's always something more to know, and something that can help us in terms of healthcare, particularly.”
Therein lies the origins of her passion for science.
She attended Nottingham University, where she studied biomedical science, and transferred in her final year back home to Bradford University. She then trained at Bradford Royal Infirmary Hospital.
During her university studies, a relative saw an ad looking for a lab assistant at her local hospital. Kelly was looking for a placement for her year out.
“I got the job for the placement year, and then they never let me go.”
Kelly next studied biomedical science with a speciality in cellular pathology at The University of Sheffield, where she earned a master’s degree in pathological science.
“I didn’t originally plan to be a biomedical scientist,” she said, “however, after securing a placement year at my local hospital in the hematology lab, I decided it would be a good idea to become a state registered Biomedical Scientist.”
Yet, there was a problem. Kelly didn’t like working with blood. She’d often faint at its sight. Eventually, she learned to deal with it.
“It was obviously a potential issue in a hematology lab,” she said.
She chose hematology because it involves decision making and experience. It can’t simply be learned ― it requires gaining familiarity. The skills come with time and exposure.
“Every patient situation is different, and you must piece together the clues and the patient’s history,” Kelly said. “Biomedical scientists are key to disease diagnosis and monitoring, with 70 percent of all diagnosis being based on pathology results.”
She recognized the importance of her work in extremely busy hospital laboratories.
“It’s important to remember that with every single sample comes a patient, and with each patient there is a family concerned about the health of their loved one,” she said. “Every single sample is as important as the next!”
Kelly thrived in the lab.
“Working in a busy lab is absolutely like working with your family,” she said. “You spend so much time together working 12 hour shifts that you definitely build extremely strong bonds with your colleagues. You form a support network with these people. This job just would not work without these relationships. The job is extremely stressful, with staffing pressures and patient care being extremely reliant on pathology results.”
She credits those people as being instrumental in who and where she is today.
“You can read all the books in the world, but you need to be part of that hospital environment and gain your experience that way,” she said. “That enables you to make clear confident decisions about what you think is happening with a patient.”
After 16 years as a biomedical scientist, Kelly was ready for a change. But she still wanted to contribute to healthcare. So, she worked as a product specialist and training specialist for commercial companies. Then she joined HORIBA’s medical division. Her experience was key in appreciating the technology HORIBA has to offer.
Kelly works with a variety of hematology equipment, including full blood count analysers, biochemistry analysers, and hemostasis equipment.
“Having come from a lab background, I understand how crucial the equipment in the lab is, allowing the technician to make the correct, confident decisions on patient results,” she said. “Reliable, intuitive instrumentation is essential for the efficient working of incredibly busy hospital laboratories. Biomedical science is constantly changing and developing, as healthcare moves from the traditional hospital base into the community. And pathology is moving too, so companies like HORIBA are constantly developing solutions for these adapting environments.”
Her experience, along with the company’s product offerings, are particularly relevant in today’s biomedical environment.
“Biomedical scientists have been working tirelessly during the Covid-19 pandemic, developing diagnostic tests, running tests within the laboratories and developing vaccines to fight the virus,” she said. “These scientists have been at the forefront of the Covid-19 response from day one. There is no better time to highlight just how huge a role these people play in looking after patients, and each other.”
Do you have any questions or requests? Use this form to contact our specialists.