If you’re considering doing a placement, I would definitely say just go for it

Emma Hetherington student profile
Emma Hetherington
BSc Biomedical Science with a Year in Industry
Placement organisation: Merck, Sharp & Dohme (MSD)
Emma spent her year in industry working in the clinical trials department at MSD. During her year, Emma learnt about the strict regulations that govern the industry and also got a chance to visit hospitals who were running MSD’s clinical trials.

When I applied for different universities, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so originally I applied for Biology as it was a subject I enjoyed at college. Once I applied, Sheffield contacted me and suggested that after reading my personal statement, Biomedical Science might be better suited to me.

After looking into it, I decided that this was a better option and I appreciated the fact that Sheffield took the time to contact me regarding the different opportunities that were available.

I decided I wanted to do a placement year because I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduating, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to look at the jobs available for biomedical science students and gain some experience before graduating too.

I also think doing a placement year is a good idea because you have the opportunity to move and work in another city for a year to see whether it’s right for you, especially considering a lot of jobs in the pharmaceutical industry are based down south.


I worked in the clinical trials department whereby we have around 100 ongoing studies, two thirds of which are oncology based.

Emma Hetherington

BSc Biomedical Science with a Year in Industry


It’s almost like a taster of what you could be doing after graduating, but after graduating you don’t have the comfort of knowing it’s only for a year!

The support at Sheffield was really good and I was in regular contact with the placement team at university. They did a mock interview with me and helped me prepare for the assessment centres, which made me less nervous and more confident on the day.

My placement was at Merck, Sharp & Dohme, which is a large pharmaceutical company based in Kings Cross, London. I worked in the clinical trials department whereby we have around 100 ongoing studies, two thirds of which are oncology based.

My responsibilities included helping obtain regulatory and ethical approval for clinical trials, which was really interesting to be able to learn about the strict regulations that govern the industry.

In addition, I had the opportunity to go to hospitals that run our clinical trials, including ULCH, Royal Brompton and Sheffield, to see how the trials are conducted at hospitals and ensure the trials are run in compliance with the protocol.


I have been fortunate enough to spend multiple days shadowing other departments, including regulatory and medical affairs and sales which has given me a good understanding of other opportunities available after graduating

Emma Hetherington

BSc Biomedical Science with a Year in Industry


In order for us to run the trials at hospitals across the country, pharmaceutical companies need to pay the NHS for the procedures and time they spend working on our clinical trials. I have been heavily involved with processing the invoices we receive from hospitals and have also been able to negotiate the costs and contracts with hospitals too.

This was really interesting to not only see how much money goes into a single clinical trial, but was also good because I’ve always been interested in the financial side of clinical trials but didn’t think it was something I could go into until now.

Doing a placement has definitely helped me decide what I’d like to do in the future, as after my final year I would like to pursue a career in clinical research.

Even if the placement makes you realise it’s not right for you, it’s still a good opportunity to see the options available and get invaluable experience.

By working for a big pharmaceutical company, I have been fortunate enough to spend multiple days shadowing other departments, including regulatory and medical affairs and sales which has given me a good understanding of other opportunities available after graduating.

If you’re considering doing a placement, I would definitely say just go for it. I remember at the start of 2nd year when I thought I had no chance of getting a placement, but if you’re willing to put the hours in to research companies and find something that interests you, it will definitely pay off.

Most importantly, I think it’s such a great thing to do because it sets you apart from all the other thousands of biomedical science graduates, and will hopefully lead to getting a good job after university!


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