Clinical Technologists 

Medicine uses cutting-edge technology in areas such as radiotherapy, bioengineering, dialysis, laser procedures, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear medicine and ultrasound.  

Clinical technologists (also known as Healthcare Science Practitioners) are responsible for maintaining, monitoring and operating the increasingly sophisticated equipment and instruments used to diagnose illness and to treat patients.


 

Your responsibilities

As a clinical technologist, you could work in one of a range of specialist areas.  In nuclear medicine, you might be responsible for preparing radioactive materials, imaging patients and disposing of waste material safely. If your expertise is in electronic or mechanical engineering, you might be helping to design, construct and maintain specialist clinical equipment, sometimes for an entire hospital. Most clinical technologists are based in hospital medical physics departments but they may work in almost any part of the hospital.  Renal technologists visit kidney dialysis patients at home.  You can expect to work closely with scientists and doctors, as new equipment, techniques and instruments are introduced.  While some clinical technologists spend much of their time in the laboratory or workshop, many have contact with patients and all are involved in technical innovation that has a direct benefit for patients.
 

Skills required

As well as your technical expertise, you need a strong sense of responsibility, professionalism and meticulous attention to detail, even under pressure.  You must also be empathetic to patient needs, providing reassurance when necessary.


How to become a Clinical Technologist


Take 3 A Levels OR a Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in science or maths (preferably including physics), or vocational qualifications to the same standard, which include science, engineering or maths.

The majority of technologists jobs now require a general degree in physics or engineering.  After completing this you can then apply for a job at a hospital. The majority of hospital based jobs will include further post-graduate training and you will gain more qualifications whilst working.  Either through joining the IPEM Technologists Training Scheme or through completing a distance learning degree.   Many hospitals prefer trainees to be at least 18 and mature entrants are often welcome. 


Progression


Clinical Technologists are graded according to seniority.  In the lower grades, the work is more routine, while higher grade posts involve more decision-making, and responsibility for managing and training others.  Progression through the grades is not automatic but is gained by applying for higher grade vacancies.

Details are available from hospital personnel departments, although smaller hospitals may not employ or train junior clinical technologists.  Vacancies, especially lower grades, are often advertised in job centres and local papers.  Higher grade jobs are increasingly advertised nationally, for example through IPEM's jobs online or via the NHS Jobs website.

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