Army Biomedical Scientist
A day in the life of a Biomedical Scientist in the British Army
Biomedical scientists play a vital role in the armed forces. Working at the forefront of pathology, biomedical scientists diagnose clinical illnesses and infectious diseases, as well as monitor responses to treatments. A varied and energetic role, they can also be responsible for setting up and managing field hospitals, whatever the situation. For more information please visit the following websites:
Sgt Lorraine Brindley
Multi-skilled biomedical scientist, covering blood transfusion, haematology, clinical chemistry and medical microbiology.
Career to date
Qualified in 2009 in Birmingham, assigned to Defence Medical Group North in North Yorkshire and subsequently to 34 Field Hospital in York.
During my brief career I have undertaken operational deployments to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan where I was a member of a UK/US team, Sierra Leone where I was the clinical laboratory manager in response to the Ebola outbreak and later this year I will be deploying to South Sudan supporting the United Nations mission (UNMISS) as deputy lab manager.
The operational laboratory provides a 24/7 service to the clinicians and the capability is determined by the numbers of biomedical scientists deployed.
The laboratory, with me as the single biomedical scientist, is largely haematology/transfusion based for trauma. However, there would also be small, robust point of care analysers where I can provide a limited clinical chemistry and coagulation capability. With the recent addition of a multiplex PCR capability, I can now deliver rapid diagnosis of conditions caused by a range of micro-organisms. In this configuration, the laboratory would be manned for a minimum of 12 hrs with an out of hours service to cover the remainder of the period.
Over time, and depending on the mission, the laboratory may increase its capability to provide enhanced clinical chemistry and coagulation analysis and deliver a comprehensive medical microbiology service. Additional biomedical scientists will be deployed up to a maximum of 6 which allows for a formal shift pattern to be observed, with personnel working at least 10hrs a day.
The activity in the deployed laboratory is unpredictable, with periods of high intensity followed by periods of inactivity and therefore the working day is never the same. There are, however, certain tasks that have to be undertaken in addition to sample analysis. This includes the following:
- Daily status report of blood stock holdings for the Medical Command team
- Daily maintenance and quality control of all equipment
- Quality control of blood transfusion activities
- Restock and subsequent redemand of consumables.
- Attendance at the following meetings as the Pathology representative:
- Heads of Department
- Board round (Clinical review of in-patients)
- Healthcare Governance Committee
- Hospital Transfusion Committee
- Infection prevention and control (IPC) Committee
- Weekly activity reports to the Centre of Defence Pathology.
When not in the laboratory working then I would be very close by, ensuring that I can respond to any urgent call-out and fulfil the 24/7 laboratory support to clinicians.