How to become a biomedical scientist: Hannah's story

Meet Hannah. She's 25 and works as a biomedical scientist in the virology department of a hospital. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"I knew for a while I wanted to do this. I came for a placement in college and absolutely loved it!"

What are your day-to-day tasks?

My main tasks are testing samples and analysing the results. Some of the main tests are HIV testing, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C testing.

We process the samples, analyse them and report the results. We then communicate with the consultants and senior biomedical scientist staff to get the best care for the patient.

Our work supports the clinicians in deciding which treatment options are suitable for each patient. They wouldn't be able to do this if the sample had not been analysed.

Hannah working in the lab.

What was your educational career path?

I did Triple Science at school as well as Maths, Geography and Sport. When I went on to college, I did Chemistry, Biology and Geography. Then, when I went to university, I did a Biomedical Science degree.

What soft skills do you use?

Time management is important as our current working hours are 9 to 5 and some tests can take up to five hours to complete.

What would your message to younger students be?

It’s a lot of work, very fast-paced and intense. Some days are really busy but the work is enjoyable. I absolutely love it!

Top tips

  • Write to hospital and NHS Trusts and see if you can arrange a visit and observe what we do. I came for a placement in the laboratory when I was in college and I absolutely loved it

  • Consider a sandwich course. A sandwich course is an option some universities offer. It is usually a four-year course, with the extra year spent as a placement in industry. When I was at university, it was optional to do any type of placement. I could have done an industrial placement or an NHS placement. I chose the NHS placement and that has had a huge impact.

What to expect if you want to become a biomedical scientist

Hannah's job involves helping patients receive better healthcare through the diagnostic tests she runs. The work can be fast-paced and time sensitive, so being able to manage your time carefully is important, as is being able to communicate well with other staff members in the hospital and with patients.

  • Biomedical scientist salary: £24,214 to £43,772 per year
  • Biomedical scientist working hours: 38 to 40 hours per week

What qualifications do you need to be a biomedical scientist?

  • Typical entry requirements: You could do a degree accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science, or train through the NHS Practitioner Training Programme and complete a degree in healthcare science. To access a degree you will need 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, Maths and a science, along with 3 A-levels (or equivalent) with good grades, including Chemistry and Biology. Your course will include work placements so you can get industry experience and evidence to complete a training portfolio. You'll need this to register to work.

This information is a guide (source: LMI for All, National Careers Service, GOV.UK)

Discover more on the Prospects website about the role of a biomedical scientist.

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