Lauren Hickling

MSc student at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London studying Psychiatric Research

North Walsham High School 2004-2009
5 A grades and 4 B grades

Research Worker at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London.

North Walsham High School 2004-2009
5 A grades and 4 B grades

Paston 2009-2011
Film Studies - Grade B
Media Studies - Grade A
Psychology - Grade B
Music Technology AS - Grade B

University of Lincoln 2011- BSc (Hons) Psychology - 2.1
Research Assistant in the Sleep and Cognition Laboratory


Kings College London 2014 - MSc Psychiatric Research - Distinction
Honorary Research Worker with South London and Maudsley NHS Trust


Who do you work for, and what projects have you been involved in?
I am currently working as a full time research worker on an NHS (South London and Maudsley) and KCL pilot clinical trial. It involves looking at the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes in patients with severe mental illness, and the effect they have on their psychiatric symptoms and smoking behaviours. This is a very exciting project to be working on, and I am lucky to be working with some of the best researchers and psychiatrists in this field.

What is a typical day like?
There is no two days that are exactly the same. I might be doing annual reports at my desk one day and catching up on paperwork, or I could be on study visits conducting interviews and assessments with NHS service users. I have to physiological readings like blood pressure, CO2 levels, peak flow and do urine tests, and I conduct interviews on psychotic symptoms and medication side-effects. Once I’ve finished assessments for the day I will write up the results and email the psychiatrist and care-coordinator with a summary, and upload it to the patient’s medical record. Sometimes I have to present the project to clinical teams to market our trial, I have been into central London, Surrey and Kent so far. I've also got the opportunity to write papers for scientific journals, and will soon be presenting a poster in Italy!

What did you study at Paston? How did that course help you progress upon your career path?
I studied Psychology, Media Studies, Film Studies and Music Technology. Psychology helped to introduce me to the field, and I wouldn’t have gone to study Psychology at university had I not studied it at A level. Although not directly related, my other subjects taught me how to be critical and evaluative, which is very important in the sciences. They also taught me how to write more academically, which has been very useful to me so far.

What are the important skills you have had to develop and hone to be successful in your job?
I’ve learnt to open my eyes to bias in psychology, especially culture bias. And I’ve learnt how important it is to record all of your data meticulously and regularly, to avoid problems down the line. Planning and conducting an experiment takes a lot of thought, and issues come up all the time, so it’s important to be on the ball and know what you’re doing at all times.

Did you ever envisage doing this while you were at Paston?
Definitely not. I've been luckily enough to have been given many opportunities since leaving college. I owe most of it to Dr. Simon Durrant, my undergraduate supervisor. But if it wasn't for Paston offering psychology as a course, I would not be here now. I certainly didn't imagine I would be working at one of the world's best universities.

What do you plan on doing immediately after graduating?
My post as research worker will continue until the middle of May 2016, with an opportunity for extension. I would like to go on to complete the Clinical Psychology doctorate, but if competition means I cannot do it this year, I will stay in this role!

"Other subjects taught me how to be critical and evaluative, which is very important in the sciences. They also taught me how to write more academically, which is a very big part of my course."