Bridging the medical and engineering disciplines, biomedical engineering provides an overall enhancement of health care. Aside from innovative devices such as artificial limbs and organs, new generation imaging machines, and advanced prosthetics, biomedical engineers apply their knowledge of biology, biomechanical, and engineering principles to the design, development, and evaluation of medical information systems, biological and health systems and instrumentation, and health management and care delivery systems.
With the goal of improving the quality and effectiveness of patient care, biomedical engineers are responsible for the design of devices, instruments and software, as well as conduct research needed to solve clinical problems. In addition to working in quality assurance, they are capable of designing electrical circuits, as well as operating computer simulations or software to run medical equipment to test new drug therapies. In some cases, they develop the materials necessary to make the replacement body parts. They also design rehabilitative exercise equipment. Biomedical engineers work with medical scientists, other medical researchers, and manufacturers to address a wide range of injuries and physical disabilities.
Although the expertise of biomedical engineers focuses on biology and engineering, their work spans on many professional fields. Other engineers design computer software to operate complicated instruments such as three-dimensional x-ray machines. Alternatively, many biomedical engineers use their understanding of biology and chemistry to develop innovative drug therapies while other engineers rely heavily on statistics and mathematics to create models to understand the signals transmitted by the heart or brain. Some people with training in biomedical engineering further their knowledge to become professors.
Why Become a Biomedical Engineer
To enter the occupation, most companies accommodate entry-level biomedical engineers with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program. Aside from its focus on engineering and biological sciences, many of these programs include laboratory-based courses as well as internships or co-ops with hospitals to provide its students practical applications as part of their curriculum.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a growth of twenty-seven percent for the overall employment of biomedical engineers from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. With the public becoming more aware of advances in medical technology, and the aging baby-boom generation living longer, the demands for biomedical devices and procedures such as hip and knee replacements would definitely increase leading to more job opportunities for biomedical engineers. Salary reports indicate that the mean annual wage for employed biomedical engineers would be about $91,760 as of May 2014.
Biomedical Engineer Work Environment
Depending on what they do, biomedical engineers may work in a variety of settings. Some work in manufacturing settings where they design biomedical engineering products while others work in hospitals where therapy occurs. Other biomedical engineers report in laboratories to perform research and some work in commercial offices where their support would be vital in making business decisions. Biomedical engineers generally work full time on a normal schedule. However, similar to employees in almost any engineering occupation, biomedical engineers may sometimes have to work additional hours to meet the needs of clients, patients, colleagues, and managers.