There is some confusion with regards to terminology in this field and the terms bioengineering, biomedical and clinical engineering are often used without a clear distinction. Our members work in a number of areas within the field of biomedical engineering, but these areas frequently depend on each other and sometimes overlap:
• Biomechanics including prosthetic devices and artificial organs
• Biomaterials including tissue engineering & regenerative medicine
• Systems physiology and Physiological modelling
• Clinical engineering
• Rehabilitation engineering
In biomechanics mechanical principles (such as motion, behaviour of material, flow) are used to solve biological or medical problems . For example are how drugs pass across biological and synthetic media and membranes. Biomechanics also play a role in the design and development of replacement and assistive devices for replacement and improvement of bodily functions such as artificial organs and joint replacements.
In bioinstrumentation electronics, computing and measurement
principles and techniques are applied to develop medical devices used in
diagnosis and treatment of disease. For example development of medical
devices to record and analyse physiological signals.
In biomaterials living tissue and materials are used for implantation. For example researching what material would be appropriate for a certain type of implant (metal alloys, ceramics, polymers, and composites etc). Tissue engineering in particular looks at replacing or regenerating biological tissue to restore physiological and mechanical function
In systems physiology engineering techniques are used to understand human body function, including how major processes work together at the cellular and molecular level. For example researching the control of limb movements and development of numerical simulations of physiologic systems in the human body.
Clinical engineering is a separate subject but linked. Engineering technology are applied in hospitals to optimise healthcare delivery working within a health care team. For example developing and maintaining computer databases of medical instrumentation but also repairing and maintaining equipment.
In rehabilitation engineering capabilities are used to improve the quality of life for individuals with physical impairment often working directly with the disabled individual. For example building specialised wheelchairs or developing aids to help independent living.
Your first step to becoming a biomedical engineer is to complete an engineering or maybe physics degree. The university pages will give you some indication of what type of A-levels you need to gain entry, but bear in mind that for a biomedical engineer knowledge in life science subjects like chemistry and biology are very useful.
You may then wish to apply for a job, progress to an advanced qualification (PhD) or try and enter the three-year Healthcare Science training programme operated by the NHS.
The starting point is a good engineering foundation. Beyond that it helps to have an understanding of life sciences. This means the study of living organisms, including biology, botany, zoology, microbiology, physiology, biochemistry, and related subjects.
Good communications and cooperation skills are also important, because the biomedical engineer often provides a link among professionals with medical, technical, and other backgrounds.
Salaries for biomedical engineers range approximately between £21,000 and £45,000 depending on experience and level of responsibility but can raise with more reponsibilities.
Biomedical engineers are employed in industry, in hospitals, in research facilities of educational and medical institutions, in teaching, and in government regulatory agencies.
In industry, they may create designs where an in-depth understanding of living systems and of technology is essential. They may be involved in performance testing of new or proposed products.
Government positions often involve product testing and safety, as well as establishing safety standards for devices.
In the hospital, clinical and rehabilitation engineers may provide advice on the selection and use of medical equipment, as well as supervising its performance testing and maintenance. They may also build customised devices for special health care or research needs.
In research institutions, biomedical engineers supervise laboratories and equipment, and participate in or direct research activities in collaboration with other researchers with such backgrounds as medicine, physiology, and nursing.
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