What is the role of a Biomedical Scientist?
The role of a Biomedical Scientist (BMS) varies depending on their experience and grades. Once registered with the HCPC tasks include:
• Macro description of small biopsies prior to processing.
• Embedding of the processed tissue in a wax block ready for microtomy.
• Microtomy – where thin sections of the tissue are cut on a microtome, and placed on a glass slide for staining.
• Special Staining of some sections to demonstrate specific tissue components.
• Use of the Immunostainers to demonstrate specific proteins using immunostaining techniques.
• Internal Quality Control when checking out stained sections before passing them to a pathologist.
• The training of junior members of staff in new areas.
• Senior BMSs are also trained to prepare and report on andrology specimens.
The BMSs will rotate through all of these tasks on a regular basis, maintaining their proficiency in all areas.
To become a BMS, a BSc in Biomedical Science or equivalent is required. Trainee members of staff must complete a registration portfolio which enables them to be registered with the HCPC. Specialist portfolio completion is essential to become a Specialist Biomedical Scientist. An MSc or equivalent is required for senior positions.
What is the role a Medical Laboratory Assistant?
The Medical Laboratory Assistants (MLAs) work in several areas of the laboratory, rotating between them regularly. Their tasks include:
• The checking and numbering of specimens received in the department; a task which sometimes requires communication with other departments.
• Entering the specimen details onto the Pathology Computer System.
• Preparation of the specimens for examination by a Consultant Pathologist or a senior Biomedical Scientist (BMS).
• Assist a Consultant or BMS during Specimen Cut-Up, where samples are chosen for processing.
• The storage of tissue after it has been sampled, and the disposal of tissue after it has been stored for 8 weeks, and all reporting is complete.
• The maintenance of some of the instruments used in the department e.g. the Tissue Processors.
• The filing of slides after reporting
• The preparation of slides for meetings, and sending away blocks or slides to other hospitals when requested.
• MLAs will also work with the Non-Gynae Cytology samples, preparing and staining slides for diagnosis by the pathologists.
To become an MLA, no formal qualifications are required but GCSE or equivalent in English and Maths would be advantageous.