Microbiology learning opportunties

How do I become a biomedical scientist?

Modern pathology and biomedical science laboratory work involves complex and diverse investigations that require an in-depth scientific knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology. Like many other professions a biomedical scientist will need to complete a suitable degree course. University entry qualifications usually include 'A' Level biology and chemistry and GCSE mathematics or equivalent.

Microbiology - Samples:Microbiology - SamplesBiomedical science degree courses accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science are designed specifically for the profession.

BSc honours biomedical science degrees are designed to give you basic scientific knowledge and training. Most honours degree courses are full time, with some having a placement year (sandwich course) to gain practical experience of working in a laboratory. Part-time options are also available.

Co-terminus degrees co-ordinate and deliver the education and laboratory training for graduation and eligibility for registration (see below) to be simultaneous. Practical training is delivered by placements within local laboratories as part of the degree.

What happens next?

Professional registration. On successful completion of an honours degree, a graduate will require a minimum of a year in service training to become registered with the Health Professions Council - a requirement to practice using the title 'biomedical scientist'. The practical experience needed for registration is often incorporated into sandwich degree honours courses and, increasingly, three year co-terminus degree courses (see above).

Biomedical scientists then go on to specialise in one of the following laboratory disciplines:

  • Cellular pathology
  • Clinical chemistry
  • Haematology
  • Immunology
  • Medical microbiology
  • Transfusion science
  • Virology

State registered staff are encouraged to gain post graduate qualifications.  Support staff are encouraged to obtain an NVQ which can lead to career progression

Medical Laboratory Assistantswork in close contact with biomedical scientists (BMS) providing support in non diagnostic procedures.  Career progression can be achieved to BMS by further education.  An NVQ course in laboratory support is available.

Biomedical Scientists BMS1 - (AfC grade 6) are responsible for performing the routine diagnostic procedures.  Many of the reports generated are validated by this group of staff.  Career progression to higher grades, when posts become available, can be achieved by gaining experience and further qualifications which may be post graduate or professional examinations.

Biomedical Scientists BMS2 - (AfC grade 7) section leaders with organisational responsibility for a small team.

Biomedical Scientist BMS3 (AfC grade 7) take on the responsibility of larger teams and may have specific roles such as quality management.

Biomedical Scientist BMS4 (AfC grade 8b) is the highest professional grade being the technical head of department and laboratory manager.

Clinical Scientist these provide a research and development function within the clinical laboratory.  They may provide epidemiological data for infectious disease outbreaks or develop new diagnostic tests for routine use in the laboratory.

Medical Staff provide advice on diagnosis, antimicrobial usage, infection control and interpretation of microbiological results.  Consultation about investigation and management of infection is available.

Clerical Staff  the work in the Administration and Clerical department at Southampton Health Protection Agency is extremely varied and interesting.  The work undertaken ranges from human resources, invoicing, auditing data input, minute taking, secretarial duties for consultant staff, epidemiology reporting of infectious disease, ensuring staff are reminded of vaccinations required etc.  Work for the day cannot generally be planned as there are often unexpected interruptions for higher priority work to be done.