Technicians Stories: Keele Anatomy and Surgical Training Centre

By 18th March 2020 March 27th, 2020 Blog

This week’s Technician Story comes from Zakee Hayat, an Anatomy Technician at Keele Anatomy and Surgical Training Centre. We hear about how he came into his job, what he loves about it and where he’s going next…

Anatomy Technician

My name is Zakee Hayat, and I work as an Anatomy Technician within the Keele Anatomy and Surgical Training Centre (KASTC) at Keele University. I am now 25, and started working here as an apprentice when I was 18 in the Anatomy Department within the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

I discovered this opportunity in the local newspaper following on from college, after I decided university was not for me. I did not fully know and understand what the job was going to entail but the intriguing advertisement interested me, event I had no prior experience of working in a lab environment of any sort.

After completing the initial level 3 BTEC apprenticeship with a distinction, I went on to achieve a distinction grade at HNC level in Industrial Biology. I am currently on a management programme, which will aid me in my next role of line managing an apprentice. I also hope to undergo a business degree alongside this, which will support me in expanding my knowledge on more complex parts of management.

My main responsibility as an anatomy technician is assisting students, academics, trainee surgeons and external candidates. This includes preparation of fresh specimens such as preservation and maintenance, working with clinicians and external customers to meet their requirements for a course and providing assistance where required over the duration of a course.

I prepare cadavers using a specialist technique known as embalming. This technique was taught to me by the Anatomy Manager (Paul Clews). Over the years, I have perfected this method and passed on this specialist knowledge to two new anatomy technicians. Paul and I have also travelled to different Universities such as Glasgow, Liverpool, Bristol and Edinburgh to share this knowledge of embalming and body preservation, and learn new techniques from fellow technicians in the field. This has given me the chance to network with an array of individuals in different environments, which has helped built my confidence over the years.

One of the things I enjoy most about the surgical courses is the great feedback that we receive. This was one of the testimonials after we hosted a shoulder replacement course: “The KASTC team ensured everything was catered for and nothing was too much trouble. This was also commented on by our visiting surgeons from Brazil.” Seeing feedback like this highlights the fact that we have a close knit and specialist team working here at KASTC and I feel proud to be part of it.

Part of my job also involves answering queries from donors and their relatives regarding body donation; this can also include liaising, establishing and maintaining positive links with families of donors and offering support at a very difficult and emotional time. Over the years, I have been trusted to single-handedly complete the body donation process from the beginning to the end. This involves talking to grieving relatives, confirming medical histories with GPs and hospital staff and confirming times with our funeral directors. Along with this, I also attend funerals for cadavers donated to the school, along with the thanksgiving service held every two years to give thanks to our donors and their families. For me this is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. To witness the gratitude and thankfulness from the donors’ families because we were able to fulfil their loved ones selfless wishes really does make your job feel worthwhile.

More about my area of work

The anatomy department provides anatomical teaching and resources for health and science education both at Keele and across the North West of England, for undergraduate students, postgraduate students and research projects. The department also hosts courses in the surgical training facility, which opened in 2013 as part of a major extension. It is equipped with nine stations suitable for surgical training simulation with state of the art audiovisual equipment linked to a wet laboratory, seminar room and lecture theatre. Over the next half century, the department will be responsible for training over 6,000 doctors and over 12,000 health workers.

Surgical courses we have run in the past include:

  • Orthopaedic courses – Hip and Knee Replacements
  • Trauma courses
  • Neurosurgery courses
  • Oral and Maxillofacial courses
  • Vascular surgery courses
  • Cardiothoracic surgery courses
  • Spine Surgical Training
  • Ultrasound Guided Injections
  • Reconstruction courses – e.g. breast