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What does a Biomedical Scientist do?

A biomedical scientist works in the health care industry and plays an essential role in helping physicians diagnose illnesses. By evaluating tissue and fluid samples, they are able to offer a diagnosis and a course of action for someone who has suffered from a health related incident, such as a heart attack. They carry out blood transfusions and are active in the area of medical research and study. A biomedical scientist works with physicians to guarantee that the best care possible is provided to patients.

biomedical scientist

Biomedical scientists work in three area of science: infection science, blood science and cellular science.

Infection science

Infection science addresses the identification of micro-organisms that are responsible for disease. A biomedical scientist working in infection science will create antibiotic treatments and monitor the effectiveness of vaccines against viruses.

Blood science

Among other things, blood sciences include the evaluation of fluid samples to identify risks and diseases and the determining of donor/recipient compatibility. This area of discipline seeks to understand diseases related to blood, as well as the role of the immune system in battling disease.

Cellular science

Cellular science deals with the evaluation of acquired cell samples. A biomedical scientist in this area of discipline will study diseases tissue samples, evaluate tissues obtained through tests such as PAP smears and analyze tissue samples to pinpoint fertility issues.

How Can I Become a Biomedical Scientist?

In order to do clinical work, a doctoral degree in biological sciences or a medical degree is generally required. In addition to this, post-doctoral research may be a prerequisite for working in your desired field. A prospective biomedical scientist with a bachelor’s degree can register for a doctoral program in a specific field, or enroll in a joint medical-doctoral program. This will enable them to become a practicing physician with the necessary research skills to become a scientist.

Biomedical scientists are an intricate part of the health care industry. By working closely with physicians to diagnose sicknesses and abnormalities, they are able to help guarantee the best health care to patients.

What does a Forensic Science Technician do?

Forensic science technicians help investigators solve crimes by collecting and analyzing physical evidence from crime scenes. Popular criminal detection series like NCIS and CSI have helped bring this very important job field to the forefront of public consciousness. In forensic labs, trained technicians use measuring and testing instruments, incorporating the latest computer technology to thoroughly analyze trace evidence from crime scenes. Forensic science technicians can:

  • Examine hair, blood and tissue samples
  • Test firearms and ballistic evidence
  • Analyze fibers, pieces of glass, wood and other physical substances
  • Identify drugs and chemical substances
  • Recognize impressions left by fingerprints, shoes, tires
  • Ensure proper handling and storage of evidence

forensic technician

Most work for local or state public law enforcement agencies, but there are also job possibilities with the federal government and with private medical or diagnostic labs. Forensic science technicians may also reconstruct crime scenes and testify as expert witnesses at criminal trials.

Forensic science technician training

Most employers of forensic science technicians require a bachelor’s degree, either in chemistry, biology, physical anthropology or forensic science. There are also two-year forensic science programs that combine classroom education in the principles of science with practical hands-on lab experience.

For an entry-level forensic science technician, most labs will provide a training period under the direct supervision of an experienced technician or forensic scientist. A new technician will also have the opportunity to observe court testimony and legal procedure before testifying in court.

A prospective forensic scientist should take a full program of science and math courses, starting in high school. College coursework should concentrate on lab sciences and computer skills, such as:

  • Biology, physical anthropology
  • Chemistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Physics
  • Quantitative analysis, statistics
  • Forensic science techniques
  • Computer science

Some forensic science technician students will take advanced course work to train as specialists in DNA typing, fingerprint, blood, or handwriting analysis or firearm identification. Others will chalk up several years of work experience and then pursue a master’s degree in order to advance to the level of supervisor or forensic scientist.

Related skills and qualifications

Forensic science technicians have many skills and qualifications in common with other applied scientists; they must be analytical, precise, accurate and observant. They are expected to:

  • Keep detailed scientific logs as they monitor experiments
  • Interpret results and communicate their findings clearly
  • Operate and maintain sophisticated equipment and computer systems
  • Follow security precautions to avoid contamination

Career outlook for forensic science technicians

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs for forensic science technicians to grow by a healthy 20 percent, driven by increased use of scientific analysis like DNA testing in solving crimes. Forensic science technicians working for the federal government reported above-average wages.

What does a Lab Tech do?

A laboratory technician, also called a lab tech, performs a variety of tests on bodily fluids and cells to detect diseases, bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms. A lab tech often collects and prepares specimens that other, more skilled medical workers use to determine blood types, test blood to gauge the effectiveness of prescribed drugs, or analyze the chemical makeup of fluids.

lab tech

Tools of the trade and crucial skills

Lab techs often work under the supervision of more experienced laboratory technologists, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports. While lab technologists might perform much of the critical analytical work, they are dependent upon lab techs to help prepare specimens and operate a wide range of scientific equipment. Examples include drawing blood samples and cutting and staining tissue specimens for the technologist to examine under a microscope. The tests performed by lab techs often are less complex and not likely to produce errors, the Web site Medical Jobs states.

Instrumentation used by lab techs and technologists includes cell counters, microscopes, and computerized and highly specialized equipment capable of performing a wide range of testing procedures. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that much of the work done by lab techs has become more automated, and as a result, these professionals must be highly analytical and able to use good judgement.

Education and training

Lab techs typically need to complete an associate degree or certificate program, while technologists usually need at least a bachelor’s degree for employment, the BLS states. Length of coursework varies by program, but a typical community college lab tech program that culminates in an associate degree requires roughly 105 semester hours. The majority of classes in medical technology programs focus on clinical work and experience, with a handful of general education courses mixed in as well.

Core classes for medical technician training programs could include many of the following:

  • Medical terminology
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Clinical chemistry
  • Hematology
  • Immunology
  • Phlebotomy
  • Clinical microbiology

With additional schooling, many lab techs advance to better-paying jobs or positions with more responsibility, such as laboratory technologist, histotechnician or cytotechnologist.

Job prospects and earnings potential

The BLS predicts growth of 16 percent for medical lab techs. Hospitals are the main employer of lab techs, but many work in physicians offices and diagnostic laboratories as well.