What is a biomedical scientist?
Biomedical science is one of the broadest areas of modern science and underpins much of modern medicine - from determining the blood requirements of critically ill patients, identifying outbreaks of infectious diseases to monitoring biomarkers in cancer.
Biomedical scientists mostly work in healthcare laboratories diagnosing diseases and evaluating the effectiveness of treatment by analysing 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. If you have ever had a urine, blood, tissue or other sample taken by a doctor or nurse, chances are it will have been diagnosed by a biomedical scientist.
For a glimpse into our labs and the role of the biomedical scientist, you can watch a video we created in partnership with the Science Museum, London.
Biomedical scientists specialise in certain fields:
Blood Sciences – focuses on areas such as haematology, clinical biochemistry, blood transfusion and immunology. If you work in infection sciences, you’ll play a crucial role in the diagnosis of illness by helping doctors choose the best type of treatment for patients, and monitoring its effectiveness by carrying out tests on blood to diagnose illness, or ensure that blood from donors is matched so that it can be given to patients when needed.
Cellular Sciences – focuses on areas such as histology and cytology. If you work in cellular science, you will play a role in the analysis of cells in order to identify abnormalities and interpret what this means for patients.
Infection Sciences - focuses on areas such as clinical microbiology, immunology, parasitology and virology. If you work in infection sciences, you will study the culture and identification of bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that cause infection and disease, including infectious diseases.
The chart below gives you an indication of the career pathway of a biomedical scientist:
Note: The above stated salaries include ‘London weighting’ enhancement.
How can I become a biomedical scientist?
To work as a biomedical scientist in the UK you are legally required to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
To register, you must meet their Standards of Education and Training, as well as their Standards of Proficiency. This requires you to complete an Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) accredited biomedical science degree and successfully complete the IBMS Registration Training Portfolio in an IBMS approved training laboratory.
We have opportunities to complete all of the qualifications and training to become a biomedical scientist through our Sonic Training Academy as an apprentice.
What is the HCPC?
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the regulatory body for health and care professions in the UK and their role is to protect the public. By law, you must be registered with the HCPC to work as a biomedical scientist.
They set standards for our profession with requirements covering codes of conduct, continuing professional development, education and training and most importantly standards of proficiency.
To join the register, you need to demonstrate you meet the standards of proficiency which set up the threshold level of knowledge and skill needed to practise as a biomedical scientist. This is demonstrated through completion of the IBMS registration portfolio.
What is the IBMS?
The Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) is the professional body for biomedical scientists and support staff. They support the advancing of knowledge and the setting of standards in biomedical science.
They advocate for our profession and work closely with the HCPC to set and help members achieve high quality standards and deliver a safe quality service to patients.
The IBMS accredit biomedical science degree programmes that meet the HCPC requirements.