Studying Applied Biomedical Science at RGU

Lena Forsyth is an Applied Biomedical Science student at RGU. She writes about her course experience, her placement and the role of biomedical scientists in the NHS.

*Please note, the above image was taken before the COVID-19 restrictions*

What do Biomedical Scientists do?

A biomedical scientist works in diagnostic laboratories within the NHS. They test blood, tissue and swab samples from patients to diagnose and monitor disease. We produce information that clinicians need to make decisions in patients’ treatment.

Lena Forsyth, Applied Biomedical Science at RGU

Most laboratories run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to ensure patients’ receive accurate results quickly. From the heel prick for newborns to a blood test or a swab taken at your GPs, to more critical samples taken during hospital stays and surgery, we have all used the service that biomedical scientists provide at some point in our lives.

Applied Biomedical Science course

Lena's Applied Biomedical Science experience at RGU.

From my time at RGU so far, I have learned a wide range of subjects which are all very relevant to current diagnostic and research practices. There are 8 main areas of Biomedical Science: Clinical Biochemistry, Haematology, Immunology, Histopathology, Cytopathology, Microbiology, Transfusion Science and Genetics. I have covered most of these areas already and have found my likes and dislikes along the way.

I have really enjoyed the diversity of the modules I have sat, my favourites being Genetics and Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Immunology and Clinical Biochemistry. The support from my lecturers and personal tutor has been outstanding. They are always there to answer my questions and help in any way they can.

Lena Forsyth, Applied Biomedical Science at RGU

Placement experience at ARI

Lena's Applied Biomedical Science experience at RGU.

During 2nd year, I had the opportunity to go on placement in the diagnostic laboratories for 6 weeks at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI), where I rotated through the 7 main departments. This included Medical Microbiology, Blood Transfusion, Cytopathology, Histopathology, Haematology, Immunology and Clinical Biochemistry. This was an incredible opportunity where I got first-hand experience of what happens within these laboratories. I learnt about the tests and how they handle samples.

As a person who enjoys and learns best through practical work, placement was one of the best parts of the course for me. I performed tasks like streaking agar plates and antibiotic resistance testing in Microbiology, staining tissue and cellular samples in Histopathology and Cytopathology, Haematology, Clinical Biochemistry and Blood Transfusion that have high levels of automation.

Lena Forsyth, Applied Biomedical Science at RGU

Although I did not fully understand how these complex analysers work, I know how important they are since they allow accurate and fast testing of a patient’s blood samples. For example, whilst in Haematology, I tried to carry out a test manually, something that is done on an automated analyser. As hard as I tried it was almost impossible to obtain an accurate result.

Lena's Applied Biomedical Science experience at RGU.

This experience in the labs at ARI confirmed to me that this was the career I want to pursue once I have graduated. I was supposed to back in the labs in March but due to the current situation with Covid-19 that won’t be happening until September 2021.

To me, Biomedical Scientists are the hidden backbone of the NHS. Without them, doctors wouldn’t be able to make most diagnoses and patients wouldn’t receive the level of care that they currently do. They have a hugely important role during the pandemic and their expertise is invaluable. Studying Biomedical Science has never felt more important and relevant. I hope to be able to contribute to the NHS and the care of patients’ again soon.

Lena Forsyth

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