Presidents of their profession

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Consultant becomes first female non-medical president of cytology association

Alison Cropper, Consultant Biomedical Scientist

A UHDB consultant has become the first female non-medical President of the British Association for Cytopathology (BAC).

Alison Cropper is Consultant Biomedical Scientist and Cervical Screening Programme Lead at UHDB, and became BAC president in 2020.

The BAC was founded in 2011 following the merger of the British Society for Clinical Cytology (BSCC) and the National Association of Cytologists (NAC) and has around 450 members. It is a UK based society for cytologists of all grades and professional backgrounds, medical and non-medical, aiming to advance the science and art of Cytopathology by encouraging higher standards in Cytopathology for the benefit of the public, and to encourage research in Cytopathology and related fields for the publication of useful results.

As a member of the two previous organisations, Alison was well known to her peers and was elected into her role last year – something which she is very proud of:

“The President is the figurehead of the organisation and I am enormously honoured that my fellow executive members have confidence in me and consider me worthy of the role. As a Biomedical Scientist I was a member of both the BSCC and NAC prior to the formation of BAC and an executive member of the NAC as conference organiser. I was elected to the executive of the BAC on its inception and continued as conference organiser for several years until I was elected as Chairman by the executive committee, a role I held for three years before becoming President in 2020.”

As well as the overarching objectives of the organisation, Alison also plans to continue to build relationships with other professional bodies both on home soil and further afield.

She said: “During my term as President I want to build on the relationships we have formed with other professional bodies both in the UK and internationally, especially in Europe.”

Becoming President of the organisation during the on-going pandemic has provided its challenges, but Alison has vowed that Covid-19 will not prevent BAC from continuing to provide high quality training to cytologists around the world and, in turn, bring some of that knowledge back to her role at UHDB. She added:

“We’re running a series of free webinars, open to both members and non-members, as it’s so important to keep education going and provide continuing professional development for cytologists, whether it be cervical cytology or non-gynaecological cytology such as fine needle aspirations. I am in the fortunate position that I can then bring back all learning which benefits the Trust.

In becoming President of her organisation, Alison has joined a growing list of colleagues at UHDB who also hold this position in their respective fields.

Miss Mary O’Brien is the current President of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) and Miss Gill Tierney is in the same position for the Association of Surgeons for Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI).

Dr Tanuja Shah currently presides over Age Anaesthesia Association, Dr Tanya Bleiker is the current President of the British Association of Dermatologists and Dr Andrew Goddard is the current President of the Royal College of Physicians.

Alison believes the support that she and her colleagues have received from the Trust has allowed them to obtain such prestigious roles, but is encouraging more clinicians to pursue leading roles.

She explained:“When I was asked to be Chair I thought it might impact on my work as a Consultant Biomedical Scientist and Trust Lead for the Cervical Screening Programme, but everyone in Pathology was so supportive and told me to go for it!

“I would love to see more colleagues in UHDB go for roles on national bodies, to bring back even more learning to the Trust and further raise our profile on a national level. It is work done in your own time and there can be occasional periods of time consuming hard work, but you really do get out of it what you put in.”