Careers in Healthcare Science
Interested in a Career in Healthcare Science?
Scientific professionals within the NHS are known as Healthcare Scientists. The scientific and technological innovations devised by scientists have an important role in improving patient care and clinical outcomes. Healthcare Scientists translate cutting edge scientific research and technology to the clinical context and are involved in approximately 80% of all clinical decisions. The results of their work compliment and inform the decisions of clinicians either by providing a definitive diagnoses or evidence towards a diagnosis. There are countless examples but this video, produced by the Northwest Healthcare Science Network, provides an introductory overview.
Genetics and Genomics
NHS Genetics laboratories employ Scientists specialising in Genomics and Bioinformatics who generate and analyse genetic data from patient samples in order to identify changes in the DNA sequence. Scientists specialising in using computers to analyse data are referred to as bioinformaticians. Huge amounts of data are generated in genomics and bioinformaticians use computer programs to manage and filter this data to identify potential disease causing DNA alterations. Depending on the clinical scenario; identified mutations may be causing the patient’s disease, influence the patient’s susceptibility to developing a disease, or indicate how a patient may respond to some specific medications. This article on the Royal College of Pathologists website provides further examples of the benefits that genomic medicine brings to patients. The NHS Genomics Education Programme offers several courses with information on Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics to NHS employees.
Find out more
There are over 50 specialisms of healthcare science; some may work directly with patients, others have a supporting role. Each specialism is from one of four broad areas of Healthcare. These are:
- Life Sciences
- Physiological Sciences
- Clinical Engineering and Medical Physics
The NHS careers website provides more information about the various specialisms available, and is an excellent starting point for learning about the various fields you could specialise in.
There are a variety of training and development routes available in order to join the healthcare science workforce. The Healthcare Science Practitioner Training Programme (PTP) is an NHS approved BSc honours degree, this involves broad scientific training as well as a focus on a chosen specialism. The Scientist Training Programme (STP) is a postgraduate entry programme; which involves work based learning which is complemented by a university accredited master’s degree. For more information on the range of careers available in healthcare science please see the National School of Healthcare Science website.