Biomedical science is a fast paced and constantly developing field of biological analysis in the healthcare sector with long term career prospects, biomedical science involves carrying out investigations on samples of human tissue and body fluid in order to diagnose disease and correctly monitor the treatment of patients that have been affected by disease. With over 55,000 registered healthcare scientists in 51 different disciplines work in areas such as biomedical science makes up for 5% of the National Health Services workforce budget (Evered, 2010)
Role of a Biomedical Scientist
Biomedical scientists work in healthcare laboratories diagnosing diseases and evaluating the effectiveness of treatment by analyzing fluids and tissue samples from patients. They provide the ‘engine room’ of modern medicine – 70% of diagnoses in the NHS are based on pathology results provided by laboratory services. Handling over 150 million samples in the UK each year, every person at some point in their lives will benefit from the services of a biomedical scientist.
What Makes Biomedical Science Such a Fascinating and Rewarding Career?
It could be the personal satisfaction of using your scientific and detective skills to investigate disease to help your medical colleagues save the life of a patient. Or, it could be the diversity of an interesting and rewarding career with a range of opportunities for personal and career development. Modern biomedical science is a fast changing, dynamic and complex science that requires accuracy, efficiency and attention to detail.
Biomedical scientists are at the heart of multi-disciplinary teams in healthcare. They provide other professionals with vital scientific information, allowing them to make informed clinical decisions, ensuring blood stocks are adequate at critical times, matching blood to patients, measuring chemicals to monitor patient condition, investigating disease by looking at tumor samples and identifying micro-organisms in the fight against infection.
What Other Roles Does the Profession of a Biological Scientist Include?
Biomedical scientist roles also include: cancer screening; identifying micro-organisms causing; outbreaks such as food poisoning; blood donation services; infection control; drug testing; AIDS and HIV diagnosis and treatment; rapid response labs for accident and; emergency; drug therapies; quality management; research; leadership; training.
The professional roles of a biomedical scientist can be portrayed by looking at the Health Profession’s Council’s ‘standards of conduct, performance and ethics’ literature, this provides strict guidelines on the expectations of Biomedical Scientists. Both in and out of their natural working environment, the document lists 14 points with a detailed summary of each one describing how registered professional of the Health Profession’s Council must act towards patients following such rules as, “acting in the best interest of service users and respecting the confidentiality of service users” (Health Profession’s Council Standards of Conduct Performance and Ethics, 2008). This document also describes how registrants must professionally enhance their skills in order to benefit patients, protecting them from the dangers of incorrect diagnosis/treatment, stating that “you must keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date and you must act within the limits of your knowledge, skills and experience, and, if necessary, refer the matter to another practitioner”.
The international regulating body that the United Kingdom is based within is known as the ‘World Health Organization’; this is “the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends” (World Health Organization, 2010).
Biomedical scientists can go on to build on their knowledge with master’s degrees, doctorates and professional qualifications. These optional qualifications help to develop advanced specialist skills to adopt senior roles and responsibilities. Consultant biomedical scientists are those with the highest qualifications and expertise, reaching the top of their profession. Biomedical scientists can also register professionally with the Science Council, which sets the standards for professional scientists in the UK and is internationally recognized as the benchmark for quality and excellence. Professional registration for biomedical scientists can be as a Registered Science Technician RSciTech, Registered Scientist RSci, or Chartered Scientist CSci.
Biomedical scientists dedicated to the research side of the profession are continually looking for new and innovative treatment methods that would improve our knowledge of the relevant subject area and ultimately allow us to find new ways of treating or curing disease.
Biomedical scientists working in the development side of the profession are involved in searching for the most cutting-edge techniques that can hopefully aid the healthcare sector in obtaining faster and more accurate results for patients whilst also aiding in the enhancement of drug’s used for treatment, allowing a faster and more concise experience for service users whilst improving quality of life.
In order to ensure that diagnosis and treatment is as accurate as it can possibly be, diagnostic laboratories have a standard quality assurance/quality control procedure in place, this involves looking over samples at least twice, and checking that the patient’s sample and information is correct before giving feedback on the issue to the patient’s doctor or whomever is acting up on the results of the patient (Health Profession’s Council, 2010).
It is important for biomedical scientists to keep up to date on the latest techniques and analysis procedures when working in the health sector, this comes under the title of ‘continuing professional development’ (CPD), every time a registrant renews their registration, they must confirm that they have met the criteria of CPD, if a registrant is selected for audit by the Health Profession’s Council, they must provide evidence of CPD.
Biomedical science offers a fantastic variety of exciting career opportunities with excellent promotion prospects including: specialist laboratory work, expert and consultant roles, research, education and management. Many biomedical scientists work for the NHS or private sector. Their modern laboratories are the hi-tech hubs of hospitals and at the cutting edge of healthcare. But if working in a general hospital laboratory isn’t for you, there are lots of other avenues to explore including: teaching, drug testing, medicine, blood donation, veterinary diagnostics, food safety, the brewing industry, cancer screening, the armed forces, pharmaceutical research, journalism, sales and marketing, government advisory and many more. Alternatively, you may decide to follow a career in research, forensic science or one of the other disciplines allied to the biomedical sciences. If travelling is your thing, you can use your training and skills in healthcare posts and projects around the world.
Biomedical scientists are highly sought after for international healthcare projects in hospitals, schools and universities. You may want to become involved in voluntary work in developing countries on behalf of international bodies such as the World Health Organization or the Voluntary Service Overseas. For a varied and physically demanding career, the armed forces offer biomedical scientists the chance to use a variety of skills and apply them to different scenarios and settings around the world. From setting up field hospitals to deal with the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone to working on a battleship off the coast of Bahrain, you’ll support medical teams across the armed forces with an essential clinical laboratory service. Like any profession, you can get involved in professional activities where you can develop skills in media, politics, organizing events and discussion groups, networking and professional representation and roles.