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Health care scientists

There are many different areas of science or engineering in which clinical scientists may specialise, including:

  • Biochemistry

  • Haematology

  • Haemostasis and thrombosis

  • Histocompatability and immunogenetics

  • Immunology

  • Microbiology

  • Molecular genetics

  • Medical physics & clinical engineering


Once qualified, clinical scientists register with the Health Professions Council (HPC).

Life sciences / pathology

Life scientists employed in the NHS usually work in pathology laboratories. They work with tissue and other samples from patients and play a crucial role in both diagnosis of disease and monitoring treatment.

Clinical biochemist

  • Clinical biochemists analyse and interpret data, mostly from blood plasma and other body fluids, and advise on the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

  • In order to enter the profession you will need a first or second class honours degree in chemistry or biochemistry - or one with a high proportion of these subjects.


Clinical immunologist

  • Scientists in clinical immunology research new tests and treatments involving manipulation of the immune system.

  • To become a clinical immunologist you will need a degree in biochemistry or biology which has a component of immunology.


Clinical scientist in histocompatibility and immunogenetics

  • Histocompatibility scientists match donor and recipient for organ transplantation, including bone marrow transplant donors.

  • The usual entry requirement is a relevant science degree with experience in immunology.

Clinical cytogeneticist & molecular geneticist

  • Clinical cytogeneticists use analysis of chromosome number and pattern in the diagnosis of genetic disease.

  • Molecular geneticists chemically examine cellular DNA to identify genetic abnormalities.

  • Both require a good degree in life sciences or genetics.


Clinical microbiologist


  • Clinical microbiologists play an important role in the diagnosis, prevention and control of infections. They are also involved in developing improved diagnostic tests.
  • A good honours degree in microbiology is required to enter this field, or a general biological science degree with numerous microbiology options.

Clinical embryologist


  • Clinical embryologists deal with fertility
  • A good life science honours degree (possibly with an element of reproductive medicine / biology).

Physical sciences


Physical scientists help clinicians treat diseases and other disabling conditions through the use of electronic or other equipment. Specialised techniques, such as ultra violet or infra red photography are used to obtain permanent records for further analysis or for teaching and research.

Medical physicist


  • Medical physicists apply physical sciences to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease.
  • You will need a good degree in a physical science or engineering to become a medical physicist.

Clinical engineer


  • Clinical engineers are specialists in the mechanics of the human body and design equipment for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients.
  • A good degree in a physical science or engineering is normally required to become a clinical engineer.

Clinical physiology


  • Clinical physiologists use a range of physiological parameters to provide information on the extent of disease or disability.

Audiological scientist


  • Audiological scientists develop and apply techniques and equipment for detecting and compensating hearing loss, and for diagnosing neurological diseases.
  • The first degree may be a science degree, preferably with some knowledge of physics or behavioural science.

Cardiographer


  • Cardiographers are based in cardiac departments and operate the electrocardiograph (ECG) machines, which monitor the functioning of the heart.
  • Formal entry qualifications are not normally required, but candidates are encouraged to become enrolled members of the Society for Cardiological Science and Technology (SCST) and undertake the certificate in electrocardiography examination.

Perfusionist

  • Clinical perfusionists are highly skilled people who monitor the condition of the patient during surgery using the heart-lung machines. They require a high level of knowledge about how the human body works and the machines on which the patient will rely.
  • Minimum entry requirements are two A-levels in science subjects, and applications are welcome from people with higher qualifications or a science degree.