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Nia Stewart - Secondary Biology Teaching

Hi there! What’s your name, and what graduating class were you from?

Nia Stewart - BVMS Class of 2018.

What do you do at the moment?

I’m completing my one-year Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) in Secondary Biology, after which I’ll be qualified to work as a secondary school Biology teacher in Scotland.

What did your pathway look like, and how did you get your current job?

I knew that I didn’t want to go into clinical practice and I also knew that I enjoyed teaching, so I began tutoring science to secondary school pupils soon after graduation. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to pursue a career as a secondary school Biology teacher. I applied to PGDE programmes at the end of 2019, I received an offer from The University of Edinburgh in August 2020, and once I graduate in June 2021 I’ll begin my training year as a probationer teacher in a secondary school. When I pass my probation year, I will be a fully registered teacher with the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

Why did you choose to move away from clinical work?

I knew that clinical practice wasn’t going to be for me well before graduation. It can be difficult to make that decision, but once I took some time away from veterinary medicine and started trying other kinds of work, teaching really jumped out at me as something that brought me a huge amount of joy and reward and provided me with a level of challenge that was motivating rather than stressful.

What is the best part of the job?

I really enjoy the process of breaking down complex scientific concepts in a creative way that makes it easier for pupils to understand them. Creating a space that pupils enjoy and feel safe in is incredibly rewarding, and being able to share my enthusiasm for science with them is a huge privilege.

This job may not be for you if…

you don’t enjoy working with children and young people, and you really struggle with organisation. It’s very easy to fall into unhealthy work habits if you don’t set very firm boundaries with your work hours (the to-do list is never-ending). But, the reward is knowing you’ve made a real difference to the many children and young people that you teach.

Do you have any words of wisdom for other alumni?

I found it helpful to be honest about my own personal limits around the kinds of stressors I can cope with in a workplace in the long-term, and also to consider the balance of reward and stress in a typical work day. A day in the classroom and a day in the clinic can both be stressful, but the stressors I encounter in the classroom are very different to those I would encounter in the clinic. If you’re clear about what it is about a particular role or work environment that motivates you or drains you, it can make it easier to find a role that is sustainable for you in the long-term.

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