A clinical engineer or bio-engineer designs equipment for monitoring, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation or research. They may design laser equipment or electronic aids for patients with disabilities and investigate the mechanics of the human body.
They use physical sciences and their knowledge of materials and manufacturing to make significant contributions to the diagnosis and the treatment of disease, and to the rehabilitation of patients with disabilities.
Clinical engineers work closely with patients, technical and medical staff and administrative staff as well as equipment manufacturers. Many engineers work in large departments that deal with a variety of medical physics activities and are encouraged to share their specialist knowledge.
Further information is available on the medical physicist web page.
Traditionally, entry into clinical engineering was for graduates with a relevant degree (such as in a physical science or engineering) to apply for a clinical scientist post through the NHS Clinical Scientist Training Scheme.
However, with the implementation of the Modernising Scientific Careers programme, there are increasingly opportunities to enter this area of healthcare science at undergraduate level through the NHS Practitioner Training Programme (PTP) or through the graduate entry route of the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP). The NHS Clinical Scientist Training Scheme has been replaced by the STP.
The minimum entry requirement for the PTP is typically a good range of A-C grade GCSEs plus a minimum of two A levels or equivalent including a science subject. However, this is just a guide. Applicants must check with the universities they wish to apply to, to confirm their exact requirements.
For STP training places, a 2:1 in a relevant science degree is the minimum required. Each NHS organisation advertising STP vacancies decides which degrees are relevant.
For the PTP, entry is through an accredited BSc healthcare science (clinical engineering) or an accredited BSc Healthcare Science programme in medical physics. These are 3-year programmes which combine academic study with practical experience gained in the NHS. Students on these programmes do not receive NHS financial support.
At STP level, trainees should search for STP vacancies such as in rehabilitation engineering; clinical measurement and development; or medical device risk management and governance.
You must be registered with the Health Professions Council to practice in the UK as a clinical scientist. Click here for details.
In the future, trainees completing the Scientist Training Programme may not work as clinical scientists and so may not be required to register on a statutory basis. Please check individual job/training place vacancy details for information when applying.
Applications for full-time BSc healthcare Science courses need to be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service
A list of accredited BSc Healthcare Science courses can be found on the NHS Networks website.
There is an annual recruitment cycle for the STP and applications are usually made through the NHS Jobs website. The cycle will typically commence towards the end of the year preceding the next autumn intake.
For more information about careers in clinical engineering, contact:
Institution of Physics and Engineering in Medicine
230 Tadcaster Road
Tel: 01904 610821
Fax: 01904 612279