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Where Can A Career In Biomedical engineering Take You?

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Overview

The role of a biomedical scientist is to work alongside Clinicians to help diagnose and treat diseases. Most biomedical scientists in the UK work for the NHS, but there are also biomedical roles in the private healthcare industry, as well as for other public and private bodies (for instance the Food Standards Agency or pharmaceutical businesses). There are Biomedical Science opportunities in the NHS throughout the UK, including within Hospital Trusts, Public Health England and NHS Blood and Transplant.

Biomedical Science in the NHS is split across 3 disciplines: infection sciences (virology and medical microbiology), blood sciences (haematology, immunology, transfusion science and clinical chemistry), and cellular sciences (cytology and histopathology). There are also biomedical scientists working on genetics and molecular pathology. The NHS Scientist Training Programme is the UK’s major training scheme for biomedical scientists. During the application process you will be asked to state your preferred discipline.

Work as a biomedical scientist is mostly laboratory-based, although there are occasionally opportunities to work directly with patients alongside clinicians, however there are strict guidelines about what level of contact you are permitted to have with patients.

Biomedical scientists can expect to:

  • Conduct standard and specialised laboratory testing on a variety of biological samples
  • Work with clinicians to understand their patients’ needs and prioritise your workload in the laboratory
  • Support the development of new testing methodologies
  • Keep up with new developments in your field of specialism through Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

Skills & interests required

Biomedical Scientists will need to have strong laboratory skills, including the ability to work across a variety of different instruments. You will need to be accurate and able to work quickly while maintaining high standards of delivery.

Biomedical Scientists will need to be passionate about using their scientific laboratory skills to help patients or to make breakthroughs in treatment methods.

Typical Career Progression Routes for Graduates in Biomedical engineering

Typical career progression routes for graduates in Biomedical Science

Following the completion of an accredited degree programme, biomedical scientists will need to register with the Health & Care Professionals Council by applying for the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP), which is a salaried fixed-term contract covering a three-year period. After registering on the STP you will need to complete the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (IBMS) Diploma in Biomedical Science and Diploma of Specialist Practice, in which you will specialise in one of the these fields:

  • cellular pathology
  • clinical biochemistry
  • clinical immunology
  • cytopathology
  • haematology with hospital transfusion practice
  • histocompatibility and immunogenetics
  • medical microbiology
  • transfusion science
  • virology
After completing the IBMS Diploma, you will be eligible for further IBMS courses (including the IBMS Advanced Specialist Diploma) designed to develop your specialist skills and prepare you for management. You may also be able to register as a Registered Scientist (RSci) / Chartered Scientist (CSci) – for more details on becoming registered, see: https://www.ibms.org/registration/science-council-professional-registers/. Alongside these Diplomas there will be opportunities to continue academic study through an MSc or Ph.D.

Once you have qualified, careers in the NHS are quite structured. You will have the opportunity to climb up the different pay bands through displaying your technical skills and knowledge, as well as practical experience. It is possible to specialise in particular medical disciplines (e.g. endocrinology), or to transition to a clinical research role.

Tips for getting into the field

  • Arrange a meeting with your university’s careers advisor to discuss your interest in becoming a biomedical scientist.
  • Your university and department may offer an industrial placement / sandwich year with specific organisations. You may also want to consider trying to arrange a placement as a laboratory assistant yourself if your course doesn’t offer those links.
  • Even if your university doesn’t have links, you should approach a local hospital diagnostic / medical laboratory to arrange a visit and to get a feel for the sort of work and working environment you will be involved in.

Types of jobs in Biomedical engineering

Earning potential

Salaries in the NHS are based on set pay bands, which are reassessed on an annual basis:

  • Starting salaries in the NHS range from £22,000 to £28,750 (Band 5).
  • Progressing to Band 6, you can earn between £26,500 to £35,600 (Band 6).
  • In Band 7/8a, you will be a Senior biomedical scientist, earning between £31,600 to £48,500.
  • Consultant biomedical scientists can earn significantly more.

Qualification requirements & subjects to study

Biomedical scientists in the UK must first complete an IBMS-accredited undergraduate BSc (hons) in a relevant subject. The IBMS Education website provides a list of accredited subjects. It is possible to study a non-accredited course and still become a biomedical scientist – you will need to have your degree assessed by the IBMS.

Useful resources

https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/working-health/working-nhs/nhs-pay-and-benefits/agenda-change-pay-rates

http://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/ (NHS Blood and Transplant)

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england (Public Health England)

Industry bodies

https://careers.ibms.org/home/

https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/healthcare-science/roles-healthcare-science/life-sciences/biomedical-science

https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/career-planning/study-and-training/graduate-training-opportunities/nhs-scientist-training-programme

http://www.hpc-uk.org/

https://acmedsci.ac.uk/