- normal colour vision
- handling sensitive information
- record keeping
- steady hand
- First Degree
- biological sciences
- working in a laboratory, in a hospital, in the pharmaceutical industry, for a private company or a government department
- using computers, microscopes and other hi-tech laboratory equipment
- identifying viruses or other organisms, causing, for example, hospital-acquired infections, cancer, HIV or food poisoning
- testing samples in emergency situations, for example to find out if a patient has had a heart attack or has overdosed
- making up slides to look at under a microscope
- growing cultures of organisms that cause diseases
- communicating test results to medical staff
- keeping accurate records and producing reports.
- blood transfusion science
- clinical chemistry – the study of body fluids and the adverse effects of chemicals on the body
- cytology – the study of cells
- haematology – the study of blood
- histopathology – the study of human tissue
- immunology – the study of the immune system
- medical microbiology – the study of micro-organisms
- virology – the study of viruses.
- You would spend most of your time working in a laboratory.
- Hours would normally be regular but you may have to do shifts or be on call to give emergency cover.
- You might work close to infectious viruses or bacteria but would be protected against them.
- You would have to wear protective clothing, such as a white coat, a mask or gloves.
- You need to have an honours degree in biomedical science, recognised by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS). You normally need 4 Highers, including science subjects, for entry to the degree. You may also need English, Maths and Biology or Chemistry at Standard grade Credit level or National 5.
- Degrees in related science subjects such as biochemistry or immunology are also acceptable, but you would need to take additional modules approved by the IBMS.
- Alternatively, you could take an 'integrated' or 'co-terminus' full time degree accredited by the IBMS, which also meets the registration requirements of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). You need to register with the HCPC to be able to work with the NHS.
- Four Scottish universities offer the co-terminus degree; Abertay, Glasgow Caledonian, Robert Gordon and the West of Scotland.
- You can find a list of accredited biomedical degree courses on the IBMS website.
- You may be able to enter with 3 Highers or a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND) in biomedical sciences. You then study part time for an approved degree. For an HNC or HND you normally need 1-2 Highers. This route depends on employer financial support and is much less common.
- For some aspects of work, you must have normal colour vision.
- conscientious and accurate – mistakes could seriously affect patients
- practical with good laboratory skills
- very observant
- able to concentrate and record your work carefully
- able to work as part of a team of specialists
- able to organise your own workload
- able to work accurately under pressure.
- excellent attention to detail
- good hand skills, to use delicate equipment
- respect for patient confidentiality.
- You train for state registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to get the IBMS Certificate of Competence. (You need this to work in the NHS).
- Training is on the job and through courses you do while working as a trainee.
- Part of your training involves completing a portfolio with evidence of your work towards the certificate.
- Training usually takes 1-2 years, depending on your degree.
Summary: Biomedical scientists test samples of body fluids, blood and tissue to help doctors diagnose disease and to monitor patients’ treatment. They have a sound knowledge of biology, biochemistry and chemistry.
Average salary: The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on: where you work the size of the company or organisation you work for the demand for the job.Biomedical scientists in the NHS usually start on Band 5 on Agenda for Change. From April 2014, this is £21,602 to £28,180. With further qualifications and experience this could rise to £40,964 (Band 7).
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Biomedical scientist, Medical laboratory scientific officer
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Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
Park House 184 Kennington Park Road London SE11 4BU
Tel: 0845 300 6184
Notes: The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards of professional training, performance and conduct in the following 14 healthcare professions: Arts Therapists (Art Therapist, Dramatherapist, Music Therapist); Biomedical Scientist (or Medical Laboratory Technician); Chiropodist and Podiatrist; Clinical Scientist; Dietician; Occupational Therapist; Operating Department Practitioner; Orthoptist; Paramedic; Physiotherapist; Practitioner Psychologist; Prosthetist and Orthotist; Radiographer; Speech and Language Therapist. (The HCPC may regulate other healthcare professions in the future.) The HCPC website contains a register of all approved courses in the above professions.
Hodgkin Huxley House 30 Farringdon Lane Clerkenwell London EC1R 3AW
Tel: 020 3434 2020
Notes: The Science Council promotes the advancement and dissemination of knowledge of and education in science, technology, mathematics, computing and information technology. It awards the designation of Chartered Scientist (CSci) to those candidates who can meet the high standards required.
NHS Education for Scotland (NES)
Westport 102 West Port Edinburgh EH3 9DN
Tel: 0131 656 3200
Notes: NHS Recruitment Scotland has information on NHS careers and vacancies.
Research Councils UK (RCUK)
Polaris House North Star Avenue Swindon Wiltshire SN2 1ET
Tel: 01793 442818
Notes: RCUK's Careers in Research website. You can access an online suite of case studies about life as a researcher, or download case study booklets featuring researchers in different fields.