By Aimee Pinnington, Specialist Biomedical Scientist, and Caitlin Owen
Biomedical Scientists (BMSs) typically work in healthcare laboratory settings and carry out tests on patient samples that will usually contribute to or determine a patient diagnosis or evaluate the effectiveness of treatment. ‘Biomedical Scientist’ is a legally protected title which requires registration with the Health and Care Professions Council. To register, BMSs must obtain a Certificate of Competence from the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS), which is achieved by the completion of a Healthcare Science or Biomedical Science degree accredited by the IBMS, and the IBMS Registration Training Portfolio, which typically takes around 12 months to complete. It can be completed at an IBMS-accredited training laboratory (most hospital laboratories) either during an integrated or sandwich year placement, or after graduating and obtaining work in one. The Portfolio is general, therefore provides qualification to start work as a BMS in any discipline, regardless of the discipline worked in whilst completing the portfolio – although laboratory experience relevant to the discipline you wish to work in is of course desirable. Disciplines in Biomedical Science include Blood Sciences, Cell Sciences, Genetics & Molecular Pathology or Infection Sciences. Disciplines available vary with hospital size and speciality. For more detail on disciplines, registration, and BMS careers, visit the IBMS website: http://www.ibms.org
Where it starts after graduating: Highly variable depending on opportunities available at the time and whether you graduate with IBMS Registration Portfolio or not. You may enter the lab at Biomedical Scientist (BMS), trainee BMS, Associate Practitioner (AP), or Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) level – more guidance on this is available on the Careers Hub and BMS Mentoring Teams site. You may also choose to work in the private sector rather than NHS labs, in which case progression routes can be different.
Where you can end up: Again, highly variable! You can progress through the lab ranks, going from newly qualified BMS to Specialist and then Senior BMS. Some choose to move into lab management, some into teaching like myself, some into consultancy work etc. There are lots of details available on the Careers Hub and BMS Mentoring Teams site about alternative career routes and emerging roles, for example Patient Blood Management.
Benefits of a career in this field: Direct impact on patient care, a constantly evolving field, working with a variety of cases which helps make everyday interesting.
Launched in January 2020, the Biomedical Scientist (BMS) Mentoring Scheme Teams site has proven very popular, with over 80 students joining already. The aim of the site is to provide tailored support for those looking to pursue a career as a BMS after graduation, offering:
- Job application support, including CV/cover letter feedback and mock interview support
- Guidance on HCPC and IBMS
- Q&A sessions on careers as a BMS
- Meetings with BMS staff from across the country to explore different career options
- Access to external IBMS events (for those with e-student membership)
- A support hub to chat with your peers about careers as a BMS
You can join the Teams site via BB or by email. Take a look at the resources and recordings available and get involved today to help achieve your career goals.