Biomedical scientists perform all laboratory methods required as part of medical examination, treatment and research activities, particularly clinical-chemical, haematological, immuno-haematological, histological, cytological, microbiological, parasitological, mycological, serological and radiological tests. They perform analytical sample testing and report the results to the medical staff for further diagnosis. Biomedical Scientists may apply these methods in particular in the infection, blood or cellular sciences.
Biomedical scientists typically do the following:
- test for diseases like Legionnaires’ disease and food poisoning
- test for infectious diseases like rubella or hepatitis
- analyse blood samples and monitor organ function
- support the blood transfusion and transplant service through blood grouping and matching
- test for blood abnormalities and diseases, like anaemia and leukaemia
- process and analyse tissue samples from operations and autopsies
- use specialist procedures like cell culture to detect cancer
- routinely test fluid and tissue samples like cervical smear tests
- update paperwork or computer records with data and test results
The following job titles also refer to biomedical scientist:
blood bank technology specialist
analyst in biomedical science
researcher in biomedical science
practitioner in biomedical science
clinical laboratory scientist
medical laboratory scientist
scientist in biomedicine
clinical laboratory technologist
Biomedical scientists work in various settings, including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, research laboratories, and colleges and universities. They typically work regular hours, although they may be required to work evenings and weekends to complete experiments or to meet deadlines.
Biomedical scientists may work in teams with other scientists or alone. They typically work in well-lit and ventilated laboratories and use various sophisticated equipment. Although most of their work is performed in laboratories, some biomedical scientists may travel to conduct field research or to attend conferences.
Anyone wishing to become a biomedical scientist will need to first obtain a bachelor’s degree in a biological science, before going on to pursue a Ph.D. Some biomedical scientists have a medical degree instead of a Ph.D., and have chosen to become biomedical scientists because they prefer research to clinical practice.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Biomedical scientist is a Skill level 3 occupation.
Biomedical scientist career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to biomedical scientist.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of biomedical scientist. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of biomedical scientist with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of biomedical scientist.
- Biomedical science: The principles of the natural sciences applied to medicine. Medical sciences such as medical microbiology and clinical virology apply biology principles for medical knowledge and invention.
- Techniques of blood-sampling: The appropriate techniques for the collection of blood samples for laboratory work purposes, depending on the group of people targeted such as children or elderly.
- Hygiene in a health care setting: The procedures related to maintaining a hygienic environment within a health care setting such as hospitals and clinics. It can range from hand washing to cleaning and disinfection of medical equipment used and infection control methods.
- Microbiology-bacteriology: Microbiology-Bacteriology is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
- Biological haematology: Biological haematology is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
- Clinical immunology: The pathology of a disease in relation to its immune response and immune system.
- Health care legislation: The patients` rights and responsibilities of health practitioners and the possible repercussions and prosecutions in relation to medical treatment negligence or malpractice.
- Bioethics: The implications of various ethical issues related to the new advancements in biotechnology and medicine such as human experimentation.
- Biological chemistry: Biological chemistry is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
- Analytical methods in biomedical sciences: The various research, mathematical or analytical methods used in biomedical sciences.
- Medical terminology: The meaning of medical terms and abbreviations, of medical prescriptions and various medical specialties and when to use it correctly.
- Health care occupation-specific ethics: The moral standards and procedures, ethical questions and obligations specific to occupations in a health care setting such as respect for human dignity, self-determination, informed consent and patient confidentiality.
- Clinical biochemistry: The various types of tests performed on bodily fluids such as electrolytes, renal function tests, liver function tests or minerals.
- Blood transfusion: The procedures involved in blood transfusions, including compatibility and disease testing, by means of which blood is transferred into blood vessels, taken from donors with the same blood type.
- Biomedical scientists’ role in health care system: The roles and responsibilities of a biomedical scientist under the health care regulation system.
- Diagnostic methods in medical laboratory: The various types of diagnostic methods in the medical laboratory such as clinical-chemical methods, haematological methods, immune-haematological methods, histological methods, cytological methods and micro-biological methods.
- Automated analysers in the medical laboratory: The methods used to introduce samples into the laboratory instrument that analyses biological samples for diagnosis purpose.
- Cross-matching techniques for blood transfusions: The testing methods used prior to a blood transfusion to identify if the donor`s blood is compatible with the blood of a specific recipient.
- Human physiology: The science that studies the human organs and its interactions and mechanisms.
- Biosafety in biomedical laboratory: The principles and methods for managing infectious materials in the laboratory environment, biosafety levels, classification and risk assessment, pathogenicity and toxicity of a living organism and their possible hazards in order to minimise any risks for human health and the environment.
- Laboratory methods in biomedical sciences: The types, characteristics and procedures of laboratory techniques used for a wide range of medical tests such as serological tests.
- Clinical cytology: The science of the formation, structure, and function of cells.
- Histopathology: The procedures needed for the microscopic examination of stained tissue sections using histological techniques.
- Biophysics: The characteristics of biophysics which span across various fields, using methods from physics in order to study biological elements.
- Immunology: Immunology is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
- Molecular biology: The interactions between the various systems of a cell, the interactions between the different types of genetic material and how these interactions are regulated.
- Biology: Tissues, cells, and functions of plant and animal organisms and their interdependencies and interactions with each other and the environment.
- Professional documentation in health care: The written standards applied in the health care professional environments for documentation purposes of one`s activity.
- Human anatomy: The dynamic relationship of human structure and function and the muscosceletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, endocrine, urinary, reproductive, integumentary and nervous systems; normal and altered anatomy and physiology throughout the human lifespan.
- Epidemiology: The branch of medicine that deals with the incidence, distribution and control of diseases. The disease aetiology, transmission, outbreak investigation, and comparisons of treatment effects.
- Biostatistics: The methods used to apply statistics in biology-related topics.
- Biomedical techniques: The various methods and techniques used in biomedical laboratory such as molecular and biomedical techniques, imaging techniques, genetic engineering, electrophysiology techniques and in silico techniques.
- Manage healthcare staff: The managerial tasks and responsibilities required in a health care setting.
- Medical informatics: The processes and tools used for the analysis and dissemination of medical data through computerized systems.
- Transplantation: The principles of organ and tissue transplantation, the principles of transplant immunology, immunosuppression, donation and procurement of tissue, and indications for organ transplantation.
- Histology: The microscopic analysis of cells and tissues.
- Toxicology: The negative effects of chemicals on living organisms, their dose and exposure.
- Chemistry: The composition, structure, and properties of substances and the processes and transformations that they undergo; the uses of different chemicals and their interactions, production techniques, risk factors, and disposal methods.
- Immunohaematology: The reactions of antibodies in relation to the pathogenesis and manifestation of blood disorders.
- Clinical microbiology: The science of identifying and isolating organisms that cause infectious diseases.
- Medical genetics: The diagnosis, types and treatment of hereditary disorders; a type of genetics which refers to the application to medical care.
- Pathology: The components of a disease, the cause, mechanisms of development, morphologic changes, and the clinical consequences of those changes.
- Embryology: The normal development of the embryo, the aetiology of developmental anomalies such as genetic aspects and organogenesis and the natural history of abnormalities diagnosed before birth.
- Microscopic techniques: The techniques, functions and limitations of microscopy to visualise objects that cannot be seen with the normal eye.
- Radiation protection: The measures and procedures used to protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionising radiation.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of biomedical scientist.
- Perform toxicological studies: Perform tests to detect poisons or drug misuse and help to monitor therapy by using chemical reagents, enzymes, radioisotopes and antibodies to detect abnormal chemical concentrations in the body.
- Respond to changing situations in health care: Cope with pressure and respond appropriately and in time to unexpected and rapidly changing situations in healthcare.
- Educate on the prevention of illness: Offer evidence-based advice on how to avoid ill health, educate and advise individuals and their carers on how to prevent ill health and/or be able to advise how to improve their environment and health conditions. Provide advice on the identification of risks leading to ill health and help to increase the patients’ resilience by targeting prevention and early intervention strategies.
- Inform policy makers on health-related challenges: Provide useful information related to health care professions to ensure policy decisions are made in the benefit of communities.
- Contribute to continuity of health care: Contribute to the delivery of coordinated and continuous healthcare.
- Use e-health and mobile health technologies: Use mobile health technologies and e-health (online applications and services) in order to enhance the provided healthcare.
- Monitor the effects of medication: Carry out tests on laboratory cultures to determine the effects of medication and other programmes of treatment.
- Label medical laboratory samples: Correctly label samples of the medical laboratory with the accurate information, according to the implemented quality system in place.
- Provide test results to medical staff: Record and pass test results to medical staff, who use the information to diagnose and treat patient`s illness.
- Analyse cell cultures: Analyse cell cultures grown from tissue samples, performing also screening of the cervical smear to detect fertility issues.
- Analyse body fluids: Test samples from human bodily fluids like blood and urine for enzymes, hormones, and other constituents, identifying blood types and determining whether donor blood is compatible with the recipient.
- Manage healthcare users’ data: Keep accurate client records which also satisfy legal and professional standards and ethical obligations in order to facilitate client management, ensuring that all clients’ data (including verbal, written and electronic) are treated confidentially.
- Deal with emergency care situations: Assess the signs and be well-prepared for a situation that poses an immediate threat to a person’s health, security, property or environment.
- Provide health education: Provide evidence-based strategies to promote healthy living, disease prevention and management.
- Assist in the production of laboratory documentation: Assist in documenting laboratory work, especially paying attention to policies and standard operating procedures.
- Apply safety procedures in laboratory: Make sure that laboratory equipment is used in a safe manner and the handling of samples and specimens is correct. Work to ensure the validity of results obtained in research.
- Communicate effectively in healthcare: Communicate effectively with patients, families and other caregivers, healthcare professionals, and community partners.
- Validate biomedical analysis results: Clinically validate the results of the biomedical analysis, according to the expertise and authorization level.
- Follow clinical guidelines: Follow agreed protocols and guidelines in support of healthcare practice which are provided by healthcare institutions, professional associations, or authorities and also scientific organisations.
- Perform screening for infectious diseases: Screen and test for infectious diseases, such as rubella or hepatitis. Identify micro-organisms causing disease.
- Apply scientific methods: Apply scientific methods and techniques to investigate phenomena, by acquiring new knowledge or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.
- Advise on healthcare users’ informed consent: Ensure patients/clients are fully informed about the risks and benefits of proposed treatments so they can give informed consent, engaging patients/clients in the process of their care and treatment.
- Carry out biopsy: Perform a microscopic examination of surgical tissues and specimens, obtained during surgery, such as a breast lump biopsy obtained during mastectomy as well as those submitted by non-surgeons.
- Maintain medical laboratory equipment: Regularly check the condition of medical laboratory equipment used, clean, and perform maintenance operations, as necessary.
- Keep up to date with diagnostic innovations: Keep up to date with diagnostic innovations and apply newest methods of examination.
- Record data from biomedical tests: Use information technology to accurately record and analyse data from biomedical tests, writing reports on the data and sharing results with the appropriate persons.
- Comply with quality standards related to healthcare practice: Apply quality standards related to risk management, safety procedures, patients feedback, screening and medical devices in daily practice, as they are recognized by the national professional associations and authorities.
- Comply with legislation related to health care: Comply with the regional and national legislation that is relevant to one`s work and apply it in practice.
- Listen actively: Give attention to what other people say, patiently understand points being made, ask questions as appropriate, and not interrupt at inappropriate times; able to listen carefully to the needs of customers, clients, passengers, service users or others, and provide solutions accordingly.
- Apply health sciences: Apply a broad range of bio-medical, psycho-social, organisational, educational, and societal aspects of health, disease, and healthcare to improve healthcare services and to improve quality of life.
- Adhere to organisational guidelines: Adhere to organisational or department specific standards and guidelines. Understand the motives of the organisation and the common agreements and act accordingly.
- Conduct health related research: Conduct research in health related topics and communicate findings orally, through public presentations or by writing reports and other publications.
- Work in a multicultural environment in health care: Interact, relate and communicate with individuals from a variety of different cultures, when working in a healthcare environment.
- Promote inclusion: Promote inclusion in health care and social services and respect diversity of beliefs, culture, values and preferences, keeping in mind the importance of equality and diversity issues.
- Interact with healthcare users: Communicate with clients and their carer’s, with the patient’s permission, to keep them informed about the clients’ and patients’ progress and safeguarding confidentiality.
- Provide treatment strategies for challenges to human health: Identify possible treatment protocols for the challenges to human health within a given community in cases such as infectious diseases of high consequences at the global level.
- Manage infection control in the facility: Implement a set of measures to prevent and control infections, formulating and establishing health and safety procedures and policies.
- Apply organisational techniques: Employ a set of organisational techniques and procedures which facilitate the achievement of the goals set. Use these resources efficiently and sustainably, and show flexibility when required.
- Develop a collaborative therapeutic relationship: Develop a mutually collaborative therapeutic relationship during treatment, fostering and gaining healthcare users’ trust and cooperation.
- Implement quality control procedures for biomedical tests: Follow quality control procedures, both internal and external, to make sure results from biomedical tests are accurate.
- Apply context specific clinical competences: Apply professional and evidence-based assessment, goal setting, delivery of intervention and evaluation of clients, taking into account the developmental and contextual history of the clients, within one`s own scope of practice.
- Work in multidisciplinary health teams: Participate in the delivery of multidisciplinary health care, and understand the rules and competences of other healthcare-related professions.
- Apply good clinical practices: Ensure compliance with and application of the ethical and scientific quality standards used to conduct, record and report clinical trials that involve human participation, at an international level.
- Support blood transfusion services: Support blood transfusions and transplants through blood grouping and matching.
- Accept own accountability: Accept accountability for one`s own professional activities and recognise the limits of one`s own scope of practice and competencies.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of biomedical scientist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Pedagogy: The discipline that concerns the theory and practice of education including the various instructional methods for educating individuals or groups.
- Medical device vigilance reporting systems: The various vigilance systems for medical devices such as haemovigilance and pharmavigilance.
- First aid: The emergency treatment given to a sick or injured person in the case of circulatory and/or respiratory failure, unconsciousness, wounds, bleeding, shock or poisoning.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of biomedical scientist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Create solutions to problems: Solve problems which arise in planning, prioritising, organising, directing/facilitating action and evaluating performance. Use systematic processes of collecting, analysing, and synthesising information to evaluate current practice and generate new understandings about practice.
- Collect biological samples from patients: Follow recommended processes to collect bodily fluids or samples from patients for further laboratory testing, assisting the patient as required.
- Empathise with the healthcare user: Understand the background of clients` and patients’ symptoms, difficulties and behaviour. Be empathetic about their issues; showing respect and reinforcing their autonomy, self-esteem and independence. Demonstrate a concern for their welfare and handle according to the personal boundaries, sensitivities, cultural differences and preferences of the client and patient in mind.
- Apply numeracy skills: Practise reasoning and apply simple or complex numerical concepts and calculations.
- Conduct training on biomedical equipment: Train clinicians and other personnel on the proper use of biomedical equipment.
- Monitor biomedical equipment stock: Monitor the day-to-day biomedical equipment usage and the management of stock such as maintaining blood transfusion stock levels and records.
- Employ foreign languages for health-related research: Use foreign languages for conducting and collaborating in health-related research.
- Ensure safety of healthcare users: Make sure that healthcare users are being treated professionally, effectively and safe from harm, adapting techniques and procedures according to the person’s needs, abilities or the prevailing conditions.
- Have computer literacy: Utilise computers, IT equipment and modern day technology efficiently.
- Employ foreign languages in care: Communicate in foreign languages with healthcare users, their carers, or service providers. Use foreign languages to facilitate patient care according to the patient’s needs.
ISCO group and title
3212 – Medical and pathology laboratory technicians
- Biomedical scientist – ESCO
- Biomedical scientist | Explore careers – National Careers Service
- Biomedical Scientists – StateUniversity.com
- Biomedical Scientist Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
- Featured image: Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash