Savanah Moriarty- Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Medical Biotechnology

Name: Savanah Moriarty

School: St. Mary’s College, Ballysadare

Current Job Title: Quality Engineer

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to choose your course:

I always had an interest in Science Subjects in School. Originally, I didn’t know what denomination of Science I had a preference for after completing my Leaving Certificate, so I went to study General Science in Galway, I completed the first two years of this course and then I knew that Biology and Medical Technologies was what I wanted to go forward with. After the completion of my second year in Galway, I decided to move back to Sligo and transfer into Medical Biotechnology as this course was exactly what I wanted to study, in the areas of Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Cell Culturing and Diagnostic Subjects. Another huge draw to this course was the work placement opportunity in the summer of Year 3. This summer placement opportunity is exactly why I have the job I have today, my placement was in the company I work for now. After completing the summer placement in Year 3 I was lucky enough to be kept on part-time in my final year and started working full-time immediately after finishing my fourth year. The work placement opportunity is gold dust, it opens up opportunities that you might not necessarily have got without this workplace opportunity

What specifically about the course did you particularly enjoy?

For me, I enjoyed the broad range of subjects, that prepare you very well for the industry. There is a lot of exposure to Laboratory work each work, around 12 hours per week. The practical elements helped classroom learning and also technical writing skills with the many Lab Reports that are to be completed. The Lab Reports helped me greatly in my work now, I do a lot of Technical Writing in which the fundamentals I learned in writing Lab Reports and my dissertation in my final year. In Year 4, we got to go to NIBRT in Dublin, this showed me what it looked like to work in Bioprocessing and industry. Personally, laboratory-based work isn’t for me, and I am thankful for this trip to NIBRT as this helped to direct me into my line of work now, a desk-based job is much more suitable for me. The opportunities in this course to learn about all angles of the industry are hugely beneficial to each individual.

What is the best thing about the course that you think new applicants should know?

The best thing about the course is the diversity in subjects. The course covers a huge range of subjects which is beneficial after the course, this opens up the opportunity for work both here in Ireland and abroad. I think anybody applying for the course should know the course is quite intense, especially Year 3, a lot is covered in the course and there is a heavy workload!

Any favourite modules during your time studying?

My favourite module was Immunodiagnostics. I feel what was covered in class was covered again in the labs, it was so interesting learning about antibodies, antigens and the application of immunodiagnostics. In this subject, my lab skills were put to the test as the quantities of these reagents were very small so there was a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail needed! I feel this subject helped to develop my attention to detail which has paid off in my job now.

What key skills did you learn while studying at ATU Sligo that has influenced your career?

Key skills I learned during my course are attention to detail, time management, communication skills, technical writing skills, and working on my initiative. Lab work excelled my skills in attention to detail, working with micro amounts of reagents showed me to take my time and concentrate while completing tasks, this skill has paid off greatly as I am now a Lead Auditor in ISO 13485. Time management of course is a necessity in the workplace, I work as part of a team with projects and we have to work independently on our tasks in order to meet the correct timeline and submit our work together as a team.

Can you share some detail of your career path to date?

I completed my student placement in the summer of Year 3, I was lucky enough to be kept on part-time during my final year in college. When I finished my course in May of 2019, I worked full-time with the company I am currently working for. I have been upskilled since the beginning of my employment, by completing the IQC Lead Auditor Course in ISO 13485. I have worked my way up to my current role as a Quality Engineer

What does your current role involve?

As part of my job as a Lead Auditor, I conduct Internal Audits for companies which is part of their Quality Management System (QMS), I audit all areas of the QMS which range from Design Control audits, Management Responsibility and Resources to Corrective and Preventive Actions. As I work in a Medical Device Consulting Company I know all areas of the QMS well, I have worked with start-up companies, helping to implement, maintain and improve their Quality Management systems, and help companies achieve their certificates for ISO 13485, FDA 21 CFR 820, MDSAP jurisdictions and European Directives like the Medical Device Directive (MDD) and In Vitro Diagnostics Directive (IVDD). I work with well-established companies that require a Gap Assessment to ensure constant improvements on their QMS. My job is very broad and I am lucky enough to work with Medical Device companies manufacturing products of Class I to Class III and also working with Diagnostic companies developing markers for cancer. I hope to become an expert in Quality and Regulatory Affairs, the market is constantly changing and improving, and this job will mean I am always learning about new medical devices, diagnostic devices and regulatory standards.

What advice would you share with our current students considering a career in your field?

I would advise you to be open to different work opportunities, I did not know a lot about the job I am currently in before starting. I didn’t even know that this job existed before. I would advise you to look at different subject areas and get exposure to industry-based settings at every opportunity as this will help you decide on a career, for me seeing NIBRT opened my eyes to bioprocessing and research-based environment, this was a career that wasn’t for me, but I am so grateful to of been allowed to make that decision early on in my final year. Which lead me to choose a desk-based dissertation which greatly improved my technical writing skills. Whereas some of my classmates loved that work environment and choose a lab-based dissertation!

What did you like best about studying at ATU Sligo?

Since I moved from a large college in Galway to ATU Sligo, there was a vast difference. ATU Sligo has a personal touch that the larger colleges just can’t meet, I went from sitting in a lecture hall of 450+ students to a classroom with 15 students, it was a great feeling and I feel helped my learning as I could communicate with the lecturers very easily and on a personnel level. The fact that lecturers knew your name blew my mind, in a bigger college you are another number. There is a great sense of community in IT as it has smaller classes, this also benefits hugely in lab-based settings as you can use the equipment.

What advice would you give a first-year student starting in ATU Sligo?

As I did not complete my first year in the ATU, I don’t exactly know what to say, as I moved into the second year, I was nervous about moving into a group who had already bonded for the first year, but my advice is to be yourself, integrate and do things you enjoy. There are so many different sports and social groups in ATU Sligo there is something for everybody, find your niche! Also, enjoy yourself, the few years you are in college go so quickly, so have fun!

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