Biomedical scientist: job description
Biomedical scientists are responsible for investigating and diagnosing patient illnesses such as HIV, cancer, diabetes, food poisoning, hepatitis and meningitis. Most work is laboratory-based. Typical tasks include:
- analysing specimens of blood, tissues, urine and faeces for chemical constituents using sophisticated computer-aided and automated testing procedures.
- analysing cultures grown from samples
- identifying blood groups
- interpreting results for and liaising with medical staff
- monitoring the effects of treatment and medication
- maintaining accurate records
- writing medical reports
- Medical Research Council
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers
- Public Health England
- Clinical pathology laboratories within NHS hospitals
- NHS Blood and Transplant
- Health and Safety Executive
- Private hospitals
Vacancies are advertised online, by careers services and in newspapers and scientific publications such as The Biomedical Scientist, New Scientist, Nature and their online equivalents.
Starting salaries for an NHS biomedical scientist can be found on the NHS website. Salaries may vary in other organisations, and are usually higher in the private sector.
You can only become a biomedical scientist if you have a relevant degree. In order to start work as a trainee biomedical scientist, you will need a certificate of competence from the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) and you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). See the IBMS website for a list of accredited degrees.
The RAF offers a biomedical science course, from which you will gain a BSc in biomedical science.
Those who want work for the NHS will need to complete the three year NHS scientist training programme (STP) before they can progress to more senior roles.
Scotland has separate training schemes, which also involve a three year STP or an equivalent programme.
Research work, hospital laboratory placements and/or relevant experience gained using similar scientific and analytical techniques are all useful to applicants.
Biomedical scientists need clear and effective written and verbal communication skills. Employers also look for:
- an analytical approach
- attention to detail
- sound research skills
- problem-solving skills
- the ability to work as part of a team