How to become a Biomedical Scientist
What does a Biomedical Scientist do?
Biomedical scientists analyse body fluids and tissue samples to aid doctors in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. They typically work in hospital laboratories, specialising in one of the following areas:
- chemical pathology (biochemistry): analysing blood and other biological materials to diagnose disease and test organ function; this work is highly automated
- transfusion science: identifying blood groups and testing for compatibility of donor and recipient blood, and preparing blood transfusions and plasma fractions for administration to patients
- haematology: identifying blood cell abnormalities and calculating haemoglobin levels
- cellular pathology: analysing tissue samples to establish causes of illness and disease
- medical microbiology: isolating and identifying micro-organisms and testing their susceptibility to antibiotics
- virology: identification of viral infections, and conducting screening of those at risk
- cytology: analysing samples of cellular material collected from patients to seek abnormalities
- immunology: development of tests and treatments which manipulate the immune system to treat diseases such as AIDS, allergies and leukaemia; this work includes tissue typing for tissue grafts and organ transplants.
Biomedical scientists in each area of work may have the opportunity to become involved in research work.
Work outside the NHS could include carrying out routine tests on food, water, animal or forensic samples, depending on the type of laboratory.
What's the working environment like working as a Biomedical Scientist?
Biomedical scientists in the NHS usually work 37.5 hours a week which may involve shift work, on-call, and evening or weekend work to provide continuous cover. Requirements vary between laboratories.
Clean and sometimes sterile working conditions are a requirement. Protective clothing is worn. The work can involve sitting or standing at a bench or piece of specialist equipment for long periods.
What does it take to become a Biomedical Scientist?
As a biomedical scientist, you will need:
- a high level of ability and interest in science and computing
- an interest in medicine and in the development of new methods of patient care and treatment
- to be able to concentrate for long periods, and have a high level of attention to detail
- high ethical standards and the ability to take responsibility for making decisions
- an enquiring mind and good problem solving skills to lead a research and development team
- excellent oral and written communication skills
- to be able to reassure nervous patients if working in branches where contact is likely.
Biomedical Scientist Career Opportunities
Biomedical scientists can move into research, training and education, advanced and specialised roles, product development and commerce.
Most biomedical scientists work in hospital laboratories in the NHS, where there are four grades of qualified biomedical scientist. Progression is dependent on experience, for example, in supervising staff, or in carrying out complex work; gaining higher qualifications, such as an MSc or Fellowship of the Institute of Biomedical Science may also be beneficial.
Opportunities may exist for biomedical scientists in private hospitals, the Public Health Laboratory Service, the National Blood Service, the pharmaceutical industry, various independent and academic research laboratories, and with government agencies such as the Health and Safety Executive.
There are opportunities with voluntary and overseas organisations, such as the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and World Health Organisation (WHO).
If you would like to know anything about Biomedical Scientist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.Institute of Biomedical Science
12 Coldbath Square
Tel: 020 7713 0214
NHS Learning and Development Service
Tel: 08000 150 850
PO Box 376
Tel: 0845 606 0655
Health Professions Council
184 Kennington Park Road
Tel: 020 7582 0866
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