According to the Institute of Biomedical Science, who are the professional body for Biomedical Scientists “Biomedical science is the term for the investigations carried out by biomedical scientists on samples of tissue and body fluids to diagnose disease and monitor the treatment of patients.” There are a number of different roles in being a Biomedical Scientists; they can be separated up into either the professional side or the scientific side.
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The professional side of Biomedical Science includes: working in partnership with Doctors in the National Health Service, working in university laboratories and forensic laboratories and also pharmaceutical manufacturing. When working alongside Doctors and Nurses, it is crucial that Biomedical Scientists carry out the right tests and investigations on patients so their Doctors can report back to them with their diagnosis of their illness and treat them accurately. It was found that “in Scotland alone, 2,000 biomedical scientists carry out 50 million tests every year” in accordance to the European Association for Professions in Biomedical Science.
When it comes to working with Doctors, you are required to have the highest quality of work to ensure the patients that they will be treated to a high standard. Before you can become a part of the NHS, you must become registered in the Health Profession Council, but first the Standards of Proficiency must be met before you can register. The Health Profession Council’s Standards of Proficiency are stated as “the professional standards which every registrant must meet in order to become registered, and must continue to meet in order to maintain their registration.” Once you have become registered, you are expected to keep to their standards of performance, conduct and ethics. It is crucial that all the registrants meet the standards and as stated by the Health Professions Council, “are able to practise lawfully, safely and effectively”. Also with being a registered Biomedical Scientist, you are required to “respect, and so far as possible uphold, the rights, dignity, values and autonomy of every service user including the role in the diagnostic and therapeutic process and in maintaining health and wellbeing”.[ With this particular field constantly developing fast, Biomedical Scientists must continually advance their knowledge and skills.
According to Staffordshire University, “Forensic Science is any science used for the purposes of the law, and therefore provides impartial scientific evidence for use in the courts of law, e.g. in a criminal investigation and trial. Forensic Science is a multidisciplinary subject, drawing principally from chemistry and biology, but also physics, geology, psychology, social science, etc.” A Biomedical Scientist working in forensics job title entails analysing samples such as hair and body fluids and also applying various techniques. These techniques would include: DNA profiling, mass spectrometry and chromatography. The University of Kent states that there are 3 main areas in Forensics; Chemistry, Biology, and Drugs and Toxicology.
Pharmaceutical manufacturing is the development of
Some Biomedical Scientists decide to conduct their own research rather than working in the National Health Service. Often these researches are funded by charity organisations such as Cancer Research. Cancer Research has over 4,000 scientists, along with doctors and nurses working for them over Europe. “Cancer Research UK is one of the few independent organisations in the world with the ability to transform pioneering research into treatments for cancer patients.” [Cancer Research UK, 2009]. The Institute of Biomedical Science also supports the voluntary work of Biomedical Scientists. They can become “involved in voluntary work in developing countries on behalf of international bodies such as the World Health Organisation.” [Institute of Biomedical Science, 2010]
The scientific roles which involves what Biomedical Scientists do in the health sector are split into many disciplines; pathology, histopathology, cytology, microbiology, blood transfusions, and haematology.
Pathology is the part of medicine which is involved with the causes of diseases and the processes of the disease. Pathology is made up of different staff groups; pathologists, clinical scientists, biomedical scientists and medical laboratory assistants. “A pathologist is a doctor who actually serves as a consultant to other doctors.” [Shamonki, 2010]. A doctor would consult a pathologist to determine the clinical management that would be best for the patient. Clinical Chemistry is the study into body fluids such as blood and urine. They look into the chemical and biochemical mechanisms within the body in correspondence with diseases. There are many different roles a Biomedical Scientists is involved with, with pathology such as forensic pathology. The role of a forensic pathologist is to “work in conjunction with police and the coroner’s office to solve homicides and mysterious deaths.” [Santiago, A., 2010]
Histopathology is the diagnosis of removed tissues and organs from patients, to understand the disease and therefore provide further treatment. Histopathologists have a good knowledge of both pathological and clinical aspects of disease. “In many hospitals, biomedical scientists are undertaking more of the ‘routine’ cut-up of smaller specimens, and in some cases are also conducting microscopic examination and report writing of cytological samples. With an increasing ability to automate and mechanise laboratory processes, there is the possibility that histopathology departments will no longer be necessary at smaller hospitals, and work may be managed centrally in dedicated histopathology centres with larger throughput capacity.” [Medical Careers, 2010]. Histopathologists also carry out autopsies
The medical and scientific study of cells is known as cytology. It refers to the branch of pathology that deals with making diagnoses of diseases and conditions through examination of tissue samples from the body. [MedicineNet.com 2007]. Cytology is quite famous for its role involved in the National Cervical Screening Programme and the microscopical detection of pre-malignant changes within the cells taken from the cervix on stained slides. [Ripley, D. 2010]
Microbiology is the detection, isolation and identification of micro-organisms which causes diseases such as meningitis, food poisoning, urinary tract infections, tuberculosis and septicaemia are just a few. “Meningitis and septicaemia are deadly diseases that can kill in hours. Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord. Septicaemia is the blood poisoning form of the disease.” [Jones, H., 2010] Vaccines can be given to form some protection against this disease, however it does not protect against a strains of the disease. The bacteria mycobacterium tuberculosis causes the disease known as tuberculosis. “When a person becomes infected with tuberculosis, the bacteria in the lungs multiply and cause pneumonia along with chest pain, coughing up blood, and a prolonged cough. In addition, lymph nodes near the heart and lungs become enlarged. As the TB tries to spread to other parts of the body, it is often interrupted by the body’s immune system” [Crosta P., 2009]. They are certain tests carried out which determines the identity of organisms.
The field of medicine known as haematology deals with blood disorders such as anaemia, bleeding disorders and malignant conditions related to blood cells such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma [Medway, date unknown]. Haematology is actually the study of the physiology and morphology of blood. Haematology can be split up into 4 main areas: routine haematology, coagulation, special haematology and blood transfusion. [Ripley, D. 2010]. Routine Haematology, also known as the Full Blood Count or Full Blood Examination, involves the qualitative and quantitative study of the patients’ blood sample. [Virology Down Under, 2003] Qualitative studies the morphology of both the red and white cells and also the platelets. Whereas a quantitative study “looks at the approximate white cell count, platelet count and at a differential white cell count.” [Virology Down Under, 2003]. Coagulation is the measure of the ability of the patients’ blood to clot.
Blood transfusion provides blood and blood products to patients who have lost theirs due to surgery or a serious injury or even if their body can’t make blood properly because of an illness [National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, 2009]. The Biomedical Scientists role in blood transfusion is to identify the patients’ blood group and to carry out compatibility tests on the patients with donated blood.
Overall, I have realised that Biomedical Scientists play a very important role in the healthcare sector in both the professional side and the scientific side. But before anyone can be classed as a biomedical scientist they must become registered with the Health Professions Council and also the Institute of Biomedical Science. Without Biomedical Scientists, hospitals would not be able to run. Doctors and nurses rely upon Biomedical Scientists to carry out the tests on their patients and must work in union. Biomedical Scientists are also relied upon to carry out voluntary work in developing countries and undertake their own research. The Scientific roles of Biomedical Science are just as important as the Professional roles. Without either of them, people wouldn’t know as much as they did today about what causes diseases and how to treat them. After the research I have conducted finding out about the different roles involved with being a Biomedical Scientist, I found myself increasingly interested in the field of Haematology. I would like to see myself as a Haematologist once completing the Biomedical Science course.
IBMS, 2009. About Biomedical Science. [online] Available at: http://www.ibms.org/go/about-biomedical-science [Accessed 10 November 2010]
Health Professions Council, Date unknown. Standards of Proficiency. [online] Available at: http://www.hpc-uk.org/aboutregistration/standards/standardsofproficiency/. [Accessed 12 November 2010]
European Association for Professions in Biomedical Science, 2010. Introducing Biomedical Science. [online] Available at: http://www.epbs.net/science.htm [Accessed 12 November 2010]
IBMS, 2010. Voluntary Work. [online] Available at: http://www.ibms.org/go/about-biomedical-science:careers-jobs:voluntary-work [Accessed 12 November 2010]
Shamonki, J., 2010. Pathologists: what are their roles? [online] Available at: http://www.empowher.com/breast-cancer/content/pathologists-what-are-their-roles-dr-shamonki-video [Accessed 12 November 2010]
Medicine Net, 2007. Definition of cytology. [online] Available at: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=80540 [Accessed 13 November 2010]
Ripley, D., 2010. Pathology. [online] Available at: www.blackboard.uwic.ac.uk [Accessed 13 November 2010]
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, 2009. What is a blood transfusion? [online] Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/bt/bt_whatis.html [Accessed 12 November]
Medway NHS, date unknown. Haematology. [online] Available at: http://www.medway.nhs.uk/Adult_Medicine/Haematology/haematology.html [Accessed 13 November]
Virology Down Under, 2003. Routine Haematology. [online] Available at: http://www.uq.edu.au/vdu/HDURoutine.htm [Accessed 13 November]
Jones, H., 2010. What is meningitis? [online] Available at: http://www.meningitis.org/?gclid=CIjYypnxw6UCFc0e4QodFUE9iQ [Accessed 15 November]
Crosta, P., 2009. What is tuberculosis? What causes tuberculosis? [online] Available at: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/8856.php [Accessed 15 November]
Cancer Research UK, 2009. What is cancer research? [online] Available at: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerandresearch/all-about-cancer/what-is-cancer-research/ [Accessed 15 November]
Medical Careers, 2010. Histopathology. [online] Available at http://www.medicalcareers.nhs.uk/specialty_pages/pathology/histopathology.aspx [Accessed 15 November 2010]
Staffordshire University, 2009. What is Forensic Science? [online] Available at: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/schools/sciences/forensic/whatisforsci/whatisforensicsci/ [Accessed 15 November 2010]
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