Biomedical scientist

Role info

You would test blood, tissue and fluid samples from ill people so they can be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

You’d use computers and hi-tech equipment to test and analyse biological samples in a laboratory and identify a patient’s disease or condition. Your findings will help doctors and healthcare professionals to decide what medical treatment to give.

Sometimes you’d meet patients, who may be anxious and upset, to discuss their condition and get samples.

You would specialise in one of three areas:

  • Infection sciences
  • Blood sciences
  • Cellular sciences

Depending on your chosen area, you would:

  • Test for diseases such as Legionnaires’ disease and food poisoning
  • Screen and test for infectious diseases such as rubella or hepatitis
  • Analyse blood for disease and monitoring organ function
  • Support the blood transfusion and transplant service through blood grouping and matching
  • Screen for blood abnormalities and diseases - test for anaemia and leukaemia
  • Process and analyse tissue samples from operations and autopsies
  • Use specialist procedures such as cell culture to detect cancer
  • Do routine tests of fluid and tissue samples such as cervical smear tests

You’d update paperwork or computerised systems with the data and test results so that patients’ records are accurate and the doctors can plan their treatment.

You would also do new research, and would often support junior staff and technicians.

Personal Qualities

  • An enquiring mind
  • High ethical standards

Working conditions

Hours

In the NHS you would usually work 37.5 hours a week. You may also be expected to work evening and weekend shifts or be on-call.

Environment

You will mainly work in very clean and sometimes sterile environments. You would be required to wear protective clothing such as a lab coat and safety glasses.

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

An honours degree (SCQF level 10) accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS).Degrees in related science subjects such as biochemistry or immunology are also acceptable, but you must take additional modules approved by the IBMS.

Most undergraduate courses ask for at least four Highers at B or above (SCQF level 6) some universities may require AABB (first sitting) for entry.

The University of Dundee offers a BSc Life Sciences course which only requires two Highers at B including Biology or Chemistry and one other subject; this course has been developed for those with high academic potential who experienced disadvantage.

You will also need

To work for the NHS as a Biomedical Scientist you must train for state registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Helpful to have

You may be able to get into biomedical science as a trainee. Some employers, including the NHS, run training courses which allow people to work towards a biomedical degree although this is much less common and is usually in locations where the NHS struggles to recruit. 

People doing this kind of job in the UK have these types of qualifications

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