Last updated: 22 April 2021
Biomedical scientists carry out a range of laboratory and scientific tests to support the diagnosis and treatment of disease. The work is highly varied, practical and analytical. You would usually specialise in one of three specific areas:
- infection sciences
- blood sciences
- cellular sciences
You could work for an NHS hospital trust or other NHS organisations. There are also opportunities with NHS Blood and Transplant and Public Health England. You will work as part of a team including other healthcare science staff, doctors and nurses.
A day in the life
Biomedical scientists investigate a range of medical conditions, including:
- blood disorders (eg anaemia)
You would also perform a key role in screening for diseases, identifying those caused by bacteria and viruses and monitoring the effects of medication and other treatments. You would learn to work with computers, sophisticated automated equipment, microscopes and other hi-tech laboratory equipment and you would use a wide range of complex modern techniques in your day-to-day work.
You could become a member of the Institute of Biomedical Science who offer courses and events to support your development. There are also opportunities to specialise in particular areas of biomedical science such blood sciences, cellular sciences, infection sciences and microbiology). You could also teach or train current staff or the next generation of biomedical scientists, manage a biomedical science service or undertake clinical academic research.
For more information regarding joining our team, please submit a form through the ‘Contact us’ page or contact the Human Resources team, who are more than happy to help, on 02392 286577 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biomedical Scientist, Blood Sciences
What made you become a Biomedical Scientist? - I have always had a love for science, with chemistry being my passion. As a youth, I regrettably did not pursue science, and as a younger adult, I was torn between biomedical science, pharmacy, and chemistry. I just knew I wanted to work in a technical and scientific role whilst also helping people. My role in the NHS ticks all these boxes.
How did you become a Biomedical Scientist? - My journey to becoming a biomedical scientist was not a direct one and for those aspiring scientists it can be done in fewer years, but my long-winded route to my current role has provided me with a varied background and understanding, which I am thankful for. I realised I wanted to pursue a scientific career in my early twenties. I enrolled at my local college to study A-level Chemistry and Human Biology as part-time courses, so I could continue working.
It was at college, our lecturer informed us of a tour at the local hospital laboratory and I was very keen to attend. When I arrived at the laboratory, I was fascinated with the automated biochemistry track, the sheer magnitude of the laboratory, and the vast number and variety of specimens processed within pathology.
During the tour we were made aware of a new role which was soon to be advertised in the laboratory, the new post was for a band 4 associate practitioner in blood sciences. After the tour I was sure that I wanted to work in biomedicine. Just two weeks after the tour, I saw an advertisement on NHS jobs for an associate practitioner in blood science at QA. The advert detailed that it was a full-time rotational post with the possibility of fully funded education and training to become a biomedical scientist, through day release at the local university.
At the time I knew this was a fantastic opportunity because I would be able to work, study and gain valuable insight into the many domains within pathology. I decided to apply, but I was fully aware that this was an excellent opening, and my chances were likely slim in securing a post. Considering this, I continued to apply for university places for Biomedicine.
I was fortunate enough to pass the interview and was offered the post and started my associate practitioner role in February 2011, at this point I withdrew my application via UCAS for university courses.
I learned a great deal in my rotational assignments throughout the laboratory, from accurate pipette use to competently using an array of analytical instrumentation including HPLC and a mass spectrometer. After a year or so of working in the laboratory, the part-time biomedical science course was discontinued at the local university. Although happy in my role, I did want to expand my knowledge and later further my career. Over the next few years, I studied some chemistry units via distance learning and really enjoyed the process of independent learning.
In 2016, I decided to bite the bullet and I enrolled at my local university to study Biomedical Science, this was a big decision for me because I had to significantly reduce my hours. My managers were very supportive, and I was given total flexibility in my working hours, which I had reduced around my university timetable. The final year at university was challenging because I was also completing the IBMS registration portfolio, conducting my undergraduate project and studying whilst looking after the family home. I graduated in June 2019 with first-class honours BSc Biomedical Science and was able to register with the HCPC as soon as I had my degree certificate.
Once I had registered with the HCPC as a biomedical scientist, I was able to practice but I had a few months in between finishing university and a post coming available in the laboratory. At the end of the summer in 2019, I started my role as a biomedical scientist and have enjoyed the new challenges and responsibilities the job brings ever since, made sweeter by the length of time I felt I had been on the education route to achieve my current role.
What do you do on a day to day basis? - The answer to this question really is why I love my job, my role is incredibly varied, and I also rotate across several areas within biochemistry, further increasing the variety in my role. My principal role is to ensure that test results generated from a range of analysers are accurate and precise. I must ensure that the analytical instrumentation is quantitating analytes correctly, such as urea and Creatinine, and that those results correlate to the patient’s previous or pathological condition being investigated.
I also perform manual methodologies, such as the dilution of patient samples that have exceeded the technical range of the instrument, preparation of reagents and standards, to preparing slides for the investigation of autoimmune diseases.
Biochemistry automation is a busy area of the laboratory, processing in excess of 3000 samples per day from departments within the hospital and local GP surgeries. Whilst in this area of the laboratory my role is very much focused on ensuring the results generated from the analysers are accurate and that the results are in-fitting for the patient. In instances of grossly abnormal results and results that are urgent, I will call the result to the requesting clinicians department such as A+E, to alert them of the result so that it can be clinically acted upon.
Within areas such as immunochemistry and autoimmunity, I use a range of instrumentation and techniques to aid in the diagnosis of disease, such as: The use of gel electrophoresis to identify abnormal protein banding arising from paraproteins in myeloma, the use of Immunofluorescence microscopy to identify characteristic fluorescence patterns seen in a variety of autoimmune diseases to allergy testing through measurement of total and specific IgE.
Why did you choose PHU? - I chose Portsmouth Hospital initially because of the laboratory tour I had at college and it was local to my home. Given that I have worked here for over a decade, there is definitely more keeping me at the trust, including wonderful friends and colleagues, supportive management and the good opportunities for training and progression.
What do you enjoy about being a Biomedical Scientist? - I enjoy the variety in my role, the teamwork and friendship within the laboratory, and knowing that my role contributes positively towards service delivery for the patients at PHT and surrounding areas. We are a very close-knit team who all help each other. My colleagues are a lovely bunch of people and many of them possess a unique sense of humour, countless quirky conversations have been had with lots of laughter in between, which has lightened the mood at this challenging time.
Career plans and advice for others - I am currently completing the Institute of Biomedical Science, Specialist Diploma in Clinical Immunology. Thus far, it has been very interesting, and I have also been fortunate enough to have training in the interpretation of characteristic immunofluorescence patterns for aiding the diagnosis of autoimmune diseases. Further down the line, I am not sure at present, but I do see myself working withing biochemistry and immunology for a while, but always having some form of training or education on the go, as I like to have a focus with regards to professional development and learning.
If you are interested in starting a career in science or biomedicine, go for it! Regardless of your level of education, there is a starting point. If you are a school leaver or adult with GCSE’s, see what your local college has available in the form of A-levels or access to higher education courses and be sure of what your desired university pre-requisites are.
If you are struggling to find a post, keep applying and maybe look at starting at a slightly lower band such as a band 2 (Medical Laboratory Assistant) whilst you gain experience and knowledge, because progression is always easier once you’re in relevant employment.
One thing I would stress, which is not always made clear; if you do wish to become a biomedical scientist, it is much easier for processing of the registration portfolio to complete an Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) accredited degree. If your biomedical science degree is IBMS accredited, you should not need to complete top-up modules to complete your registration, reducing both the cost and time it takes to complete the additional modules.
Most of all, plan your journey, work hard, and enjoy!