Cellular Pathology

A day in the life of a Biomedical Scientist - Cellular Pathology

Biomedical Scientists prepare tissue samples for diagnosis, such as specimens removed from the body suspected as cancerous. They are occasionally used during operations to examine tissue, whereby a surgeon removes some tissue for a histopathologist to diagnose and a decision is made on how to proceed. 


NameSarah Oliver

Sarah Oliver

Job title

Biomedical Scientist



Career to date

2009 – 2012
Anglia Ruskin University – BSc Hons Accredited Biomedical Science

2012 - 2013
MLA Volunteer (Gaining Registration for HCPC ) – Salisbury District Hospital Histopathology

2013 – 2017 
Band 5 Biomedical Scientist - Salisbury District Hospital Histopathology

2017 - present
Band 6 Biomedical Scientist - Salisbury District Hospital Histopathology
Completed Cellular Pathology Specialist Portfolio


The start of my shift 

A typical day starts at 8am, the biomedical scientist will come in and set the laboratory up for the day (The biomedical science staff are rotated through the early shift). Duties include switching on all equipment such as the auto-staining machine, ovens, Bond Max and filling up the water baths. Then the biomedical scientist will filter the Haematoxylin and Eosin stains for our staining machine, once complete; a control section is run on the machine to assess the staining quality prior to use. During this time, we also drain our processors of wax and move the baskets of cassettes to our embedding centres. Once the lab has been set up, the biomedical scientist begins embedding the tissue samples.

At 8.30, the early medical laboratory assistant will arrive to begin the process of setting up the dissection room, laying out the work for the consultants prior to the morning dissection which begins around 9.30am.

At 9am, when the rest of the team have arrived, the senior biomedical scientists will have a discussion about the rota for the day. This brief discussion involves the seniors familiarising themselves with who is doing what throughout the day and to make changes if necessary e.g. section cover if a member of staff is absent and we re-arrange the team to encompass that. Once this has been done, the whole team will have a brief get together to discuss what everyone is allocated and what the workflow situation is like e.g. is there a lot of consultant cut up? Is there an area that requires extra support? And we prioritise accordingly.


During the shift

The main task in the morning is to embed and cut the priority 1 specimen cases.  these include urgent specimens needed for a rapid diagnosis, cases for MDT meetings, all diagnostic biopsies and resection cases.

It is also a priority to cut and stain all immunocytochemistry (ICC) requests, by doing this in the morning it allows for continuous loading of our Bond Max machine until the afternoon, ensuring that all received requests are completed.  As the requests come in throughout the day these are prioritised by the biomedical scientist who has been assigned to ICC.

Certain tasks such as special stains and non-gynae cytology are performed in the afternoon only, occasionally this is adjusted depending on the needs of the lab. Cases that are deemed urgent are prepped and stained as soon as possible in order to achieve a rapid result for the patient. Once these cases have completed, the member of staff will return to their morning duties.

There are also other duties that a biomedical scientist is required to complete besides the core sections. These duties include sensitive disposal of foetal tissue and regular checks of decalcification specimens. These tasks are allocated to a biomedical scientist in the morning, however, if that person is unable to complete the tasks it will be delegated to another biomedical scientist.


At the end of my shift

Nearing the end of the shift, the main priority is to ensure the daily work duties have been completed and to begin shutting down the laboratory. These duties include ensuring that maintenance of our machines has been completed, decalcification specimens have been checked, non-gynae cytology has been prepped and the cabinets shut down, it also includes making sure that all specimens are on the processors and they have completed their bottle checks. We have an end of day checklist which highlights the areas the biomedical science staff must check and sign off as completed before the team leaves for the evening. At 5.30pm, it's lights out in the Laboratory until the next morning where we do it all again!


My team

Histopathology at Salisbury District Hospital

Salisbury Histopathology Team