Biomedical Scientist @ Southern Health & Social Care Trust
Gary Warnock is a Biomedical Scientist working in the Microbiology Laboratory, Craigavon Area Hospital
Hi Gary, Can you tell us about your job and what you do from day to day.
As a Biomedical scientist I work in healthcare to diagnose disease and evaluate the effectiveness of treatment through the analysis of fluids and tissue samples from patients. We provide the “engine room” of modern medicine with 70% of diagnoses based on the pathology results provided by laboratory services. With biomedical scientists handling an estimated 150 million samples per year in the UK every person at some point in their lives will have benefited from the service we provide.
I work as part of a team in the Microbiology Lab where we examine patient specimens such as wound swabs, sputum, urine, faeces and CSF for bacteria causing diseases such as meningitis, pneumonia, urinary tract and wound infections, TB and food poisoning. We then test for the antibiotic which will treat the infection. We also examine samples for infection control purposes such as MRSA.
Biomedical Scientists work in other disciplines such as:
- Clinical Chemistry where blood is analysed for liver function tests, glucose levels to check for diabetes, cholesterol levels and electrolyte levels to name but a few
- Haematology where blood is examined for haemoglobin level, white and red blood cell counts, blood cells analysed for abnormalities such as leukaemia and blood clotting studies carried out
- Blood bank where donated blood and blood products are prepared and issued to patients requiring them following extensive blood loss
- Cellular pathology where tissue biopsies, lumps of tissue removed surgically and body fluids and smears are examined for abnormal cells that may cause or have caused cancer.
- Virology where samples are examined for viruses such as influenza, measles, mumps, HIV and hepatitis.
- Immunology where blood is examined for conditions of the body’s immune system and its role in infectious diseases, parasitic infestations, allergies, tumour growth, tissue grafts and organ transplants.
- Others such as medical genetics and andrology (which assists in fertility studies)
What experience/education is required in order to perform this role?
A Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Science is required for a post as a Biomedical Scientist. This is followed by 2 years on-the-job training in chosen discipline. Biomedical Scientists are regulated by the HCPC and we must renew our registration every 2 years -as part of this process we commit to on-going CPD (continuous professional development) so need to keep up to date with current developments in our chosen area. We work with specialised equipment so you need to be practical in your approach and good communication skills are required as we liaise daily with other health care professionals and agencies such as Public Health Agency.
What is the biggest challenge in your role?
Biomedical science is an ever changing area of medicine and new technologies are continually available. We must keep up to date so that the patient gets the best results and most effective treatment options.
What advice would you give to others looking for a job in your field?
Visit a laboratory to see what they are really like as sometimes the sight of blood and other specimens plus the unusual smells can be a bit unexpected! …then make sure your degree is accredited by the IBMS as suitable for employment as a Biomedical Scientist.
What do you like best about your role and working in HSC?
I know that my role makes a difference to patient care which is very rewarding. Every day has a different challenge and there is always plenty of variety. We provide a 24/7 service which offers flexibility with working day and time off. There is good support for training and career development.