Healthcare Science Week | Winning Investigator of the Year 2021

Published 19/03/2022

For Healthcare Science Week our Investigator of the Year 2021 Mr Oliver Slegg, Clinical Scientist at Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, shares his reflections on his journey through healthcare science so far.

Last October, I was delighted to hear my abstract had been chosen to be presented at the BSEcho 2021 conference. The thought of presenting my work at a national conference was quite nerve racking, however it was a great opportunity to showcase some of the great research we are involved in as healthcare scientists. This was made even greater as I was voted 'Investigator of the year 2021'. This felt particularly rewarding as I had been juggling this extra workload at the same time as completing my MSc and becoming a new dad! 

Over the past couple of years, I have been working on a clinical audit reviewing the echocardiographic assessment of patients with pulmonary hypertension. This retrospective audit focused on evaluating the use of right ventricular free wall longitudinal strain in identifying those with pulmonary hypertension and low echocardiographic probability. This work was part of my MSc research project whilst studying on the scientist training programme (STP). 

Pulmonary hypertension has always been a condition that has interested me. I work in a specialist centre for pulmonary hypertension in Bath and therefore I see lots of patients with the condition. Prior to my own project, I helped collect data for an audit presented at BSEcho in 2018 on the echocardiographic assessment of pulmonary hypertension. This audit demonstrated that a significant number of patients with low echo probability in fact had pulmonary hypertension. My project further investigated these findings; trying to identify any new markers that could be used to identify those with the condition. The study suggested that including right ventricular free wall longitudinal strain may increase the detection of pulmonary hypertension in these patients.

I’ve been really fortunate to work alongside leading experts in this field including Dr Dan Augustine, author of the British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) guideline on the echocardiographic assessment of pulmonary hypertension. It’s amazing to see that the findings of my project are stimulating further prospective research, which could in the future directly impact patients I see in my trust. If this isn’t what being a healthcare scientist is all about then I don’t know what is!

I first learnt about cardiac physiology during work experience whilst at college, where I had the opportunity to observe healthcare scientists in action. My interest in cardiac research began when I studied healthcare science as an undergraduate on the practitioner training programme (PTP). Having the opportunity to continue and develop my research skills was a key factor in deciding to participate on the challenging STP course. As a healthcare scientist I am grateful for the time and resources that were made available to me whilst studying on the STP to undertake further research.

I am proud to call myself a healthcare scientist. I particularly enjoy the patient interactions and everyday challenges that come with the role. I never could have imagined as a PTP healthcare science student that I would be presenting my work at national conferences and winning awards. I hope winning this award will help to inspire future healthcare scientists to aim high and reach their full potential.

I have recently completed my BSE TTE accreditation and feel that I have an exciting career ahead of me and hope to present future work at the BSE. 

Submissions for Investigator of the Year 2022 will open soon.