What is a Clincal Engineer?
Keyhole and robotic surgery, as well as cutting-edge joint replacements and implants, are among the latest techniques in healthcare. Clinical engineers design and test the tools and equipment that medical specialists use to carry out these, and many other, complex new procedures. They also have an important role in research and development.
As a clinical engineer, you would use physical and materials sciences, combined with manufacturing skills, to help improve the diagnosis and treatment of disease, and also the rehabilitation of patients. You could be involved in designing and developing instruments or in research.
You might be based in a large hospital department that covers a range of medical physics and engineering work, giving support to all the clinical units. Alternatively, you could be part of the scientific team in a rehabilitation unit, along with doctors, nurses and therapists. Most clinical engineers are involved in training staff in their own department and may also hold a university lectureship. Some are university based working on cutting edge research.
As well as your engineering training and skills, you must be able to work with patients and with a range of professional staff, including technicians and clinicians and with equipment manufacturers. You will have to keep up to date with fast-moving scientific and medical research in your field and to develop you own laboratory, design, workshop and manangement skills.
How to become a Clinical Engineer
Training posts from 2011 will be available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. See Modernising Scientific Careers on the left for details of training in England.
Take at least 3 A Levels, including maths and physics, and preferably, another science and get good grades.
Take a full honours degree in (preferably) electrical, electronic or mechanical engineering, accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) or the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and aim to get at least a 2:1.
Apply for a place on the Training Scheme for Medical Physicists and Clinical Engineers, which is funded is funded by the Department of Health, where you will:
Take an MSc degree in Medical Physics, accredited by IPEM and receive vocational training in a hospital department accredited by IPEM for a total of two years followed by around two further years of advanced training leading to ACS assessment and HPC registration as a Clinical Scientist.
Note: an MEng as a first degree will not remove the need for an accredited specialist MSc.
The minimum qualification for entry to the Training Scheme is normally a second class honours degree in an engineering or physical science. If you intend to qualify as a Chartered Engineer you should preferably obtain an accredited engineering degree - an MEng for those currently entering higher education. A higher degree or industrial experience may be valuable.
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