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 are employed by health services, medical equipment manufacturers and research departments/institutes.
Job titles vary depending on the exact nature of the work. As well as biomedical engineer, other terms that are used are bioengineer, design engineer and clinical scientist (in a hospital setting/clinical situation).
Typical work activities
The type of activities carried out varies depending on the type of employer and seniority of the post held. Tasks may 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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