Biomedical engineers apply engineering principles and materials technology to healthcare. This can include researching, designing and developing medical products, such as joint replacements or robotic surgical instruments; designing or modifying equipment for clients with special needs in a rehabilitation setting; or managing the use of clinical equipment in hospitals and the community.

Biomedical engineers can be employed by health services, medical equipment manufacturers and research departments/institutes.

Job titles can vary depending on the exact nature of the work. As well as biomedical engineer you are likely to come across bioengineer; design engineer; and clinical scientist (in a hospital setting/clinical situation).

Typical work activities

Work activities vary, depending on where you work and the seniority of the post, but typically involve:

  • using computer software and mathematical models to design, develop and test new materials, devices and equipment. This can involve programming electronics; building and evaluating prototypes; troubleshooting problems; and rethinking the design until it works correctly;
  • liaising with technicians and manufacturers to ensure the feasibility of a product in terms of design and economic viability;
  • conducting research to solve clinical problems using a variety of means to collate the necessary information, including questionnaires, interviews and group conferences;
  • liaising closely with other medical professionals, such as doctors and therapists as well as with end-users (patients and their carers);
  • discussing and solving problems with manufacturing, quality, purchasing and marketing departments;
  • assessing the potential wider market for products or modifications suggested by health professionals or others;
  • arranging clinical trials of medical products;
  • approaching marketing and other industry companies to sell the product;
  • writing reports and attending conferences and exhibitions to present your work and latest designs to a range of technical and non-technical audiences;
  • meeting with senior health service staff or other managers to exchange findings;
  • dealing with technical queries from hospitals and GPs and giving advice on new equipment;
  • testing and maintaining clinical equipment;
  • training technical or clinical staff;
  • investigating safety-related incidents;
  • keeping up to date with new developments in the field, nationally and internationally.
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