Alyte Podvoiskis – Clinical Engineering

Alyte is one of a small but critically important band of scientists who literally make the NHS work. Clinical engineers evaluate, manage and modify the complex life saving machinery used in hospitals. Alyte is responsible for tens of millions of pounds worth of electronic equipment in her hospital, ranging from simple infusion pumps that deliver medicines to defibrillators that shock peoples’ hearts back into life.

Alyte, whose family hails from Lithuania, took an electronic engineering degree because it offered so many job opportunities but became hooked on medical applications when she did some research as part of her degree.

She now works as a clinical engineer in Southampton University Hospital. She evaluates equipment, working out which is most suitable and cost effective for a particular use and provides advice for clinical colleagues – a bit like a one woman ‘Which’ guide. She maintains a database of all of the hundreds of items of portable and reusable equipment in the hospital, ensuring that they are used safely and that each gets repaired and serviced appropriately. And there is also the trouble shooting needed when a machine is working but still not doing the job properly. “What gives me most satisfaction is knowing that I’ve done something to ease the burden on clinical staff by improving a process that’s ineffective”.

She also has a development role. For instance, a problem with defibrillators is that they need to be pressed hard onto the chest to be effective. So Alyte’s team has developed a training device that lights up when the correct pressure level is applied. Problem solving is part of her daily life. A recent example was a paralysed man who wasn’t able to use the normal nurses panel to get help. Alyte’s department developed a shoulder switch for him to use.



Profile courtesy of Chief Scientific Officer, Department of Health – Professor Sue Hill