• Kelly St. Pier
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Kelly St. Pier
Featured Profile: 
At A Glance
Licensed Body: 
Association of Neurophysiological Scientists
Scientist Type: 
Service provider/Operational
First Degree: 
BSc (Hons) Medical Physics and Physiological Measure
Clinical Neuro-physiologist
Works For: 
Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital
BSc (Hons) Medical Physics and Physiological Measurement (Neurophysiology)
Pet Hates: 
Burning Ambition: 
Space travel
The ability to fly; like I often do in my dreams.
Big Picture
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
I really cannot recall what I wanted to be when I was a child and I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up! However at some point I did consider criminology but I became a different kind of ‘ologist’ instead.
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
A family member was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, a terminal muscle wasting disease, so my 1st experience of neurophysiology was as a spectator and chaperone whilst she had a nerve and muscle test in the local neurophysiology department. 2 years later I was working in that very same department whilst undertaking a BSc as a young mum.
What do you love about your job and being a “scientist”? 
Using science to diagnose, treat and when possible, to help ‘fix’ children with neurological diseases.
What would you change? 
Waste and waits in the NHS.
What qualifications did you take at school? 
Why did you choose your first degree subject? 
BSc (Hons) Medical Physics and Physiological Measurement (Neurophysiology). Why: because it was a newly introduced degree specific to the field.
Do you have a Masters or PhD? If not, was it difficult to demonstrate Masters-level equivalence in order to achieve CSci? 
I do not currently have a Masters and I found demonstrating equivalence relatively straight forward. Gathering all the documentation and deciding on the evidence was the most difficult aspect of the exercise.
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
I prefer to steer clear of the subject at parties. When pushed, I will give a brief summary mentioning that I work in the NHS at Great Ormond Street Hospital and that I work with children using neurophysiology techniques mainly to diagnose and treat epilepsy, which can at times include brain surgery.
What is ‘cutting-edge’ about your work? 
Using multi-modality 3D imaging reconstructions with electro encephalographic (EEG) findings in the pre-surgical epilepsy work-up, together with high-density EEG and electrical source localization.
What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 
Helping to expand the use of non-invasive and invasive neurophysiological techniques in the pre-surgical epilepsy program. Using these techniques to better localise focal seizures, particularly in those children who would normally not be considered for surgery but may then turn out to be successful surgical candidates.
Describe some of the highlights of your average day. 
Having fun with the kids despite their limitations and being continually amazed by their resilience and bravery.
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
After stumbling across Neurophysiology as a young mum with no clear career path in sight, I trained as a neuro-physiologist and qualified with a 1st class (Hons) degree. I moved from a local district general hospital to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in 2000 and gradually moved up the ranks over the last 12 years to a managerial position. I now manage the long-term monitoring unit at GOSH where ~60% of the work is pre-surgical work-up for epilepsy surgery with scalp/brain surface recordings and a range of other diagnostic tests.
How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for your field, and how much can this be expected to rise? 
My work involves a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) that includes; a child, their family and friends together with consultant paediatric neurologists, neurosurgeons, consultant neurophysiologists, neuro-radiologists, ophthalmologists, neuro-psychologists, neuro-psychiatrists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers, nurses and last but not least, the very important play specialists.
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job? 
That it is so much easier and more pleasurable working with children than adults!
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
Implementing a new 3D reconstruction multi-modality imaging software in the pre-surgical and surgical treatment of epilepsy at GOSH. This informs the MDT helping to visualise multiple imaging techniques in a 3D sense, which includes MRI, PET, SPECT, MEG, tractography, EEG and functional fMRI findings. Prior to this, imaging findings were mainly viewed in 2D and independent of one another.
Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
I have a very good standard of living and a variable balanced/un-balanced work-life style depending demands of work and life!
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
I rarely speak about my work but when it comes up I think they think it is an interesting but mysterious job.
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
Anything that involves being outside, preferably with great views when hiking, or when the weather is good, improving my somewhat novice kite-surfing skills. When all else fails…..a great book always does the trick.
Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
I am currently Vice Chair of ANS and Vice Chair of The Registration Council for Clinical Physiologists (RCCP) and both bodies have recently worked together to form a cluster group in order to award CSci status to their membership. Chartered Scientists status is great opportunity not just for my own professional development, but for the wider development of ANS members who are practicing at a high level, providing national and international recognition in the field of neurophysiology and in the wider science community.
What is the value of professional bodies? 
Professional bodies are often under-valued. So much work is performed on a voluntary basis and always with the best interests of the members and the profession at the forefront. It is the haven for sharing knowledge, research and experience, raising the profile of the profession and, ultimately, driving the field forward.
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
CPD is incredibly important in any career but particularly in healthcare where there is a need to continuously improve and extend knowledge and skills in order to improve quality and safety for patients. The revalidation process is essential as it is an ethical and professional responsibility of every physiologist to ensure they are practicing in a safe manner and their work is based on current, scientifically based best practice.
Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
Neurophysiology is somewhat a hidden speciality, most people stumble across as I did as it is not a widely promoted profession in schools and universities especially. So whenever anyone expresses an interest, firstly I am most impressed that they found us. Prerequisites are buckets loads of patience, compassion and enthusiasm. I would direct anyone interested to all the relevant websites and contacts in order to help make it happen for them.
How would you define “professionalism”? 
A high standard of conduct and ethics which maintains and improves the reputation of the discipline.
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
I am happy with how my career has developed but had I not landed what I feel is the best job in paediatric neurophysiology in the UK, I would have worked abroad in developed and developing countries. I do however have the opportunity of visiting other units in the UK and abroad to learn from and encourage best practice.
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist? 
Always dedicated, professional, enthusiastic and caring. It would be great to think that by the time I reach the end of my career I would have made a tangible mark on taking the profession forward in some way.
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