Keyhole and robotic surgery, as well as cutting-edge joint replacements and implants, are among the latest techniques in healthcare. Clinical Engineers are generally based in hospitals or work in industry.
Take at least 3 A Levels, including maths and physics, and preferably, another science and get good grades. 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 and more focused on biomedical engineering and 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 are advertised around January each year for starting in the following September. See Modernising Scientific Careers on the left for details of training.
Take a full honours degree in (preferably) electrical, electronic or mechanical engineering and aim to get at least a 2:1.
Apply for a place on the Scientist Training Programme for Medical Physicists and Clinical Engineers, which is funded by the Department of Health, where you will take an MSc degree in Clinical Engineering and receive vocational training in a hospital department.
Note: an MEng as a first degree will not remove the need for an accredited specialist MSc.
If you intend to qualify later in your career 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. Check the Engineering Council website for a list of accredited courses.
© Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine
Registered in England and Wales (No. 3080332)
Registered Charity (No.1047999)