When asked if I would be willing to share my experience with professional registration, I must admit that I initially found it quite hard to put into words why I had applied for Chartered Scientist (CSci) status. I’ve been at the John Innes Centre for over 20 years and have been a senior scientist for 11 years. Being a CSci isn’t a requirement for my job and I don’t get paid more for having it. So why do it?
Applying for professional registration was an individual decision. For me, having an accountable structure to ensure I was continuing to develop as a person and as a scientist appealed to me. Changes in my family and work life had impacted on my job satisfaction and the opportunity to apply for CSci status came along at a time when I needed a chance to reflect. The process of reflection during registration and CPD renewal has also had an unexpected positive effect on my general wellbeing.
In 2015 I negotiated a short-term reduction in my hours, down to a 3-day week. I wanted to spend more time with my children before they entered full-time education, but the transition to working part-time proved far more challenging than I had envisaged. I wanted to ensure my decision didn’t impact the rest of the team, so initially I didn’t reduce the time I spent in the lab. This left no room for any of the development or outreach activities that I previously enjoyed as part of my role. This was hugely demoralising, and it had a knock-on effect on my self-esteem.
It was clear that I had to reassess; should I accept that something had to give, or should I take another view?
Around this time, I became aware of the professional registration scheme run by the Science Council. After taking their online quiz, applying for CSci status seemed perfect. It would allow me to assess what I had achieved and where I was heading. Perhaps if I’m honest, it may have also provided the validation that I needed to prove to myself that I was still operating at a senior scientist level.
It wasn’t a quick or easy task to complete the paperwork, but I found the process empowering. I swung from thinking ‘wouldn’t it be embarrassing if I didn’t make the grade’ to ‘I’ve done some amazing things to be really proud of’. I also had a great mentor, Clare Stevenson, who talked me through the application process.