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Surprising careers in biomedical science

Your career path is packed with unexpected opportunities when you study biomedical science. So much more than a stepping stone to a profession in research or medicine, biomedical science can surprise you with the choice of careers available. Genetic counsellor, occupational therapist and patent lawyer are just a few options you might not have even thought of.

While quite a few students start biomedical science on a path to medicine, many have a change of heart as they progress through the degree. It’s not unusual for students to harness the analytical skills they gained in studying biomedicine to explore career opportunities in logistics, auditing, or even analytics in business, marketing, or intelligence.

Hands-on lab work could even spark your interest in researching chronic disease or you could pursue an alternative career in something like speech pathology. An overseas placement, on the other hand, could spark your interest in public health.

Calling all analytical minds

The skills and knowledge you learn in biomedical science are transferable to almost any industry.

Dr Lambert Brau is the Associate Head of School (Development and International) at Deakin University’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences. He explains that in addition to good communication skills and an eye for detail, utilising analytical thinking skills also helps to lay the perfect foundation for further study in master’s programs. According to Dr Brau, analytical thinking involves exploring questions such as ‘Where is the evidence? How good is that evidence? Is this a good argument? Is it biased? Is it verifiable? What are the alternative explanations?’

‘Many biomed graduates go on to master’s programs in the allied health sector,’ Dr Brau adds.

Ignited by the unexpected

Dr Brau explains how diverse career options open up for students in their final year through placements, lab work and university-led career guidance.

‘Most placements for biomed students are in Victoria. However, increasing numbers of students are taking the opportunity to undertake overseas placements such as at research hospitals in China or community health programs in Africa or Asia,’ explains Dr Brau. ‘This then ignites their interest to pursue unexpected career paths.’

Students who prefer to stay here in Victoria can complete placements in clinical labs, GP medical clinics, secondary colleges, pharmacies or local councils.

The bulk of graduates discover careers outside a path in medicine and instead move into roles and sectors such as:

  • Medical research
  • Biotechnology
  • Laboratory medical scientist
  • Healthcare technician
  • Regulatory affairs
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Biomedical sales
  • Pharmaceutical sales
  • Science writer
  • Physiotherapy
  • Dietetics
  • Public health
  • Health promotion
  • Chiropractic
  • Veterinary science
  • Genetic counselling
  • Patent law.
'Increasing numbers of students are taking the opportunity to undertake overseas placements... This then ignites their interest to pursue unexpected career paths.'

Dr Lambert Brau,
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University

Here’s a spotlight on just a few of the surprising careers in allied health, from the springboard of biomedical science:

Occupational therapy

Biomedical science lays the foundation for Masters study and a future in allied health, where working closely with patients is key.

Make a lasting impact on the lives of patients in the client-centred career of occupational therapy. Use your passion for people to work one-on-one with children, young adults or the elderly to help them recover from life-changing physical or mental illness.

As an occupational therapist you’ll ‘help clients with activities they want to do but may struggle with, due to disability, illness or injury’, Dr Brau explains. These activities could range from helping people to do their grocery shopping to supporting them to return to work.

Genetic counsellor

Picture yourself in a quiet consulting room of a hospital in your hometown. You’re about to deliver the good news to a young woman sitting nervously before you that, unlike her mother, she doesn’t carry the BRCA1 gene mutation. As a genetic counsellor you’ll combine empathy and communication skills with the latest genetics research to help families identify and manage inherited disorders.

Dr Brau says you’ll work with patients and their relatives to understand ‘the consequences and nature of the disorder and the probability of developing or transmitting it, as well as the options open to them in management and family planning.’

Speech pathologist

Passionate about working with kids? Channel your energy as a speech pathologist. You can choose to specialise in early childhood and focus on intervention programs. Set kids on a better path for learning by diagnosing and treating developmental delay and difficulties with language and literacy.

Dr Brau says speech pathology work can vary ‘from babies struggling with breastfeeding to people who need to re-learn how to speak after suffering a head injury or stroke.’

Pursue a career you’re passionate about. Find out more about studying biomedical science at Deakin.

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Dr Lambert Brau
Dr Lambert Brau

Associate Head of School (Development and International), School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University

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