As a child, chances are that there were a few different things you wanted to be when you grew up—an NBA player, an astronaut, a rock star. And as you were growing up, you started shifting your interests towards science and medicine. If this sounds like you, then congratulations—it appears that a career in Biomedical Science is tailor-made for you.
Getting a science-related undergraduate degree was hard work, and you’re probably aware that graduate-level studies are more challenging. So, what does it mean to engage in PhD Biomedical Science programs, and where can the degree take you? What can you expect whilst studying?
The answers to all these questions and more are discussed below.
1. Have a Basic Understanding of Biomedical Science
Biomedical science is best described by La Trobe University in Australia as being “the study of the human body, its structure and function in health and disease. Biomedical scientists require an understanding of medical biochemistry, microbiology, pharmacology, cell and molecular biology, anatomy, physiology, infectious diseases and neuroscience.”
As a qualified biomedical scientist, you will have opportunities to learn about the molecular basis of diseases and build an understanding of analysis of scientific data and the undertaking of biomedical research.
2. Not Everybody Will Be Accepted to a Graduate Biomedical Science Program
Simply being interested in science and the human body is not enough to guarantee enrollment into a biomedical course. It also certainly will not ensure success as a biomedical scientist. Courses of study in different countries require different preparation prior to acceptance. Even though there is no one standard acceptance criteria, below is a brief snapshot of what educational institutions generally expect you to have before you start your degree (at a minimum).
- At least a bachelor’s degree in:
- molecular biology
- or another field of study that’s closely related to these.
- A strong, proven background in mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology
3. Biomedical Science Degrees Differ from Country to Country
So, what is it like being in university and studying biomedical science? The answer to this question really depends on what country you are studying in. Courses are similar in that they teach the basic disciplines and knowledge needed, but studying in the United Kingdom is different from studying in the United States or Australia.
The programs usually include courses in molecular biology and biochemistry, immunology, skeletal biology, neuroscience, cell biology, cell analysis and modeling, and genetics. You can choose one of the offered areas of concentration, because the graduate-level studies have to be focused.
No matter what country you study in, you’ll probably be required to complete lab reports, research papers, and other types of projects (including the scary dissertation). If you are not a native speaker, you may find academic writing extremely challenging. In such case, it would be wise to rely on editing services like those found in the Editorial Freelancers Association or an academic editing service (like AJE or Bioscience Writers).
4. You May Need Further Experience to Secure a Job
A graduate degree in Biomedical Science will not guarantee you your dream career, especially if you have set your sights especially high. Chances are, you already have some experience as a laboratory technician or another position related to this field, but you will still need to make some career progress to reach your goals. Also, take part in as many research studies as possible, to build an impressive resume before aiming towards the head of lab position.
The Prospects website shows that of all Biomedical Science graduates, on average:
- 60% find employment immediately in entry level positions (e.g., a physiotherapist)
- 40% undertake further study to increase their job prospects. 10% become nurses or medical staff, and only 1% become laboratory technicians).
5. You Need to Have a Specialization
There are a few different career pathways that the degree can lead you to. Examples of different career paths include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Head of Lab: For this position, you will need many years of experience, as well as a PhD in the field you target (it may be biology, embryology, biochemistry, etc.)
- Laboratory Analyst: A scientist who works primarily in a lab, undertaking research projects and analyzing bacteriological and microbiological material. Report and procedure writing is a big part of being a laboratory assistant.
- Occupational Hygienist: A scientist involved with the study and detection of workplace stressors—including chemicals, noise pollution, ventilation and ergonomics. They then design plans to eliminate these stressors. They work with OH&S consultancies and government agencies.
- Forensic Scientist: A scientist who provides evidence that supports the defense of prosecution in civil and criminal investigation in courts of law.
These are only four of potentially hundreds of different jobs and career paths that you can take with a graduate degree in Biomedical Science. Keep in mind that many of these disciplines have specializations—for example, there are many different types of biologists alone. You will need a great deal of experience for many of the positions. Be ready to progress up the career ladder. That’s a great challenge to have in your life.