Who am I and my journey so far?
My name is Alex and I will be graduating in July 2022 with a BSc. Biomedical Science degree from
Lancaster University. My journey towards reaching this end goal has been anything but linear, and I
believe talking openly about what it takes to become a Biomedical Scientist is important.
I started my journey at Surrey University where I completed my first year of the course. However,
due to a lot of personal reasons I realized Surrey was not the right choice for me so I made the
decision to transfer to Lancaster University and begin my second year. At Lancaster University I also
had the chance to undertake an 12 month NHS training placement (between year 2 and 3 of my course), where I would complete the IBMS Registration Portfolio to become Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered. Following the termination of the 12 month placement I returned to university to complete the last year of my degree!
Now, if it’s for the first time you are hearing about any of these terms, do not stress because I will be covering everything in this article!
Biomedical Science and the HCPC
What anyone who studies Biomedical Science should know is that Biomedical Science is a legally
protected title and profession. This means that in order to call yourself and work as a Biomedical
Scientist, you require to be registered with the HCPC, which is the regulatory body that ensures that
registrants meet the highest standards of practice.
IBMS – what is it and why you should know about it
The Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) accredits Biomedical Science courses and assures that students are prepared for a career in healthcare (most commonly diagnostic laboratories. Additionally, the IBMS also awards something called the “IBMS certificate of competence” that is given to a student that has completed 1 year of training in an NHS diagnostic laboratory (anywhere in the UK),
throughout which they have completed an IBMS registration portfolio.
The IBMS registration portfolio consists of 30 evidences proving that the student has performed activities/skills to develop all the essential requirements for a Biomedical Scientist, also called Standards of Practice (SOP’s).
At the hospital you will be fully trained, and a Teaching Officer will support you throughout the year in achieving this certificate.
Following the finishing of the NHS placement you will undergo an assessment where a IBMS representative will come to your training laboratory and you Key takeaway: In order to become HCPC registered a student requires to have the “IBMS certificate of competence”.
My NHS placement experience
My NHS placement was at Salford Hospital in the histology department and the experience was no
something I could have predicted. Throughout my year there I learned a lot of practical skills
(microtomy, staining, embedding), as well as a lot of life skills such as understanding how a
diagnostic laboratory works, working within a hospital, experiencing the 9-5, communication and
However, like everything in life I also experienced a lot of struggles such as suffering with a chronic
health condition, exposure to a very stressful job compared to what I have worked previously,
adapting to a new environment and surviving on very little money (since the placement is not paid).
Now that the experience is behind me I don’t regret undertaking it and I can see how much it helped
me change and grow.
The final step of this journey is the final HCPC registration. Once your complete the placement you
can return to the university and finish the final year of your degree. Together with the degree and
the IBMS certificate of competence an application can be sent to the HCPC and the name of the
candidate will be added onto the register which will be used by employers to verify your right to
Here is a short animation summarizing the entire process explained so far [link]
What I have described so far is one path of becoming registered (the one I took), and is the most
preferred by students, due to the fact that is it very straight forward. However, other routes exist to
achieve this goal and like I tried to highlight at the beginning of this article, not one journey is a
A second common way of achieving HCPC registration is after graduation. Initially, a student can
start working in an NHS laboratory as either a medical laboratory assistant (MLA) or apply directly
to a Trainee Biomedical Scientist position. It’s important to note here that trainee positions are very
rare and if available are usually occupied by internal staff of the hospital before they reach the
If you decide to work as an MLA, students can be part of the department and work their way up
towards the trainee position. From MLA a promotion to assistant practitioner (AP) is required
before being promoted again to Trainee Biomedical Scientist.
Thank you so much for reading this and I hope you found the article useful and clearing up some of
the confusion behind this profession.
the IBMS: https://www.ibms.org/home/
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