Guest Blog: About Nosocomial by Dr Elaine Cloutman-Green

In our latest blog, Dr Elaine Cloutman-Green (Lead Healthcare Scientist at Great Ormond Street Hospital) offers an insight into her role at Great Ormond Street Hospital, what it means to be a Healthcare Scientist and the process of combining science and art.

Nosocomial runs Thursday 20 – Saturday 22 September, featured in Camden Underground, our festival of subterranean delights. Book tickets here. 

About Nosocomial by Dr Elaine Cloutman-Green

From the moment I met Nicola Baldwin I’ve been excited.  Excited about the work she does, excited about the opportunities to connect with people about science in a completely different way, and excited to tell the stories of the amazing people I work with.  People who are constantly striving to make a difference in the lives of people they may never meet.

People often think of science as an exercise in logic and detached reasoning, and there is a lot of truth to that.  What people often don’t realise however is that the best scientists and the best science requires a lot of creativity.  To see a problem in a way that no one has looked at it before in order to find a solution, is really an art.

I work as a Healthcare Scientist in the NHS.  I’m fortunate enough to lead a workforce that makes up 11% of the staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital.  I also work with patients and undertake research in order to change the way we deliver healthcare.  When I say that I am a Healthcare Scientist however, many people don’t know what that is, even those I work with in the hospital.  They think I wear a lab coat and process samples all day.

Healthcare Scientists are often considered the forgotten workforce in the NHS, we are small in numbers, but in terms of impact, we are considerable.  Eighty percent of diagnosis, and therefore people put on the pathway to better health, have that diagnosis made by Healthcare Scientists.  We don’t just work in labs, many of you will meet us and assume we are doctors or nurses.  We journey with our patients; we see your highs and lows, even if some of us may never see your faces.

It has been so exciting therefore, to work on a project that combines both drama and the people behind the science in order to raise the curtain on what life as a scientist is actually like.

The process of putting together Nosocomial has been truly collaborative.  Working in science is often a pretty isolated world, you frequently work in basements, on your own or in very small teams.  To be able to meet and discuss your passion with other scientists you’ve never met or worked with, hear their stories and find common ground, has been an exceptional experience.  We have bonded over cake and found a way to talk honestly about what drives us, who we are, the highs and the lows.  I have been astonished by how those conversations have been incorporated into Nosocomial, in a way that is true to the science and the scientists.

This work has brought together scientists from across London and from across disciplines and it has made us a stronger workforce as a result.  We have also been lucky to get support for it from the Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM), who are keen to bring science to the public so that they can get involved.

I’m hoping that this is just the beginning, there’s so much more to say, so many more people to get involved and so much more I’d love to do.

Dr Elaine Cloutman-Green

Lead Healthcare Scientist at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Clinical Lecturer at UCL