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What should a biomedical engineer know?


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John’s Answer

Biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with medical and biological sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software used in healthcare.

Duties
Biomedical engineers typically do the following:

Design biomedical equipment and devices, such as artificial internal organs, replacements for body parts, and machines for diagnosing medical problems
Install, adjust, maintain, repair, or provide technical support for biomedical equipment
Evaluate the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of biomedical equipment
Train clinicians and other personnel on the proper use of biomedical equipment
Research the engineering aspects of the biological systems of humans and animals with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists
Prepare procedures, write technical reports, publish research papers, and make recommendations based on their research findings
Present research findings to scientists, nonscientist executives, clinicians, hospital management, engineers, other colleagues, and the public
Biomedical engineers design instruments, devices, and software used in healthcare; develop new procedures using knowledge from many technical sources; or conduct research needed to solve clinical problems. They frequently work in research and development or quality assurance.

Biomedical engineers design electrical circuits, software to run medical equipment, or computer simulations to test new drug therapies. In addition, they design and build artificial body parts, such as hip and knee joints. In some cases, they develop the materials needed to make the replacement body parts. They also design rehabilitative exercise equipment.

The work of these engineers spans many professional fields. For example, although their expertise is based in engineering and biology, they often design computer software to run complicated instruments, such as three-dimensional x-ray machines. Alternatively, many of these engineers use their knowledge of chemistry and biology to develop new drug therapies. Others draw heavily on math and statistics to build models to understand the signals transmitted by the brain or heart. Some may be involved in sales.

The following are examples of specialty areas within the field of biomedical engineering:

Bioinstrumentation uses electronics, computer science, and measurement principles to develop instruments used in the diagnosis and treatment of medical problems.

Biomaterials is the study of naturally occurring or laboratory-designed materials that are used in medical devices or as implantation materials.

Biomechanics involves the study of mechanics, such as thermodynamics, to solve biological or medical problems.

Clinical engineering applies medical technology to optimize healthcare delivery.

Rehabilitation engineering is the study of engineering and computer science to develop devices that assist individuals recovering from or adapting to physical and cognitive impairments.

Systems physiology uses engineering tools to understand how systems within living organisms, from bacteria to humans, function and respond to changes in their environment.

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See more details at www.bls.gov/ooh

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Nish’s Answer

There are so many ways that we can answer this question! I'll take it with the approach of, what I felt I knew and all that I should have known once I graduated as a biomedical engineer.

1. TLDR; We need to be "Jack of all trades and master of ONE"
Being a Biomedical Engineer is so multi-faceted. Not only do you need to understand how things work in the outside world, but you also need to understand the human body. And we already know that there is SO MUCH there that it's hard to really be skilled at both. (Well that's why engineering and medicine are two different career paths!!) And that is why we have biomedical engineers. Understanding the mechanics and functioning of the human body and translating your understanding of Physics, chemistry, mathematics etc. to innovate for the human body is biomedical engineering.

2. TLDR; Your scope is not limited to medical device development
Being a biomedical engineer is a LOT more than just Medical devices. Because you don't have to box yourself up and limit your worldview to just medical devices design and development. You think like an engineer, which means you're probably great at problem solving. There are healthcare challenges everywhere in the world, not just with medical devices! So. You can use your knowledge of health and wellbeing, your understanding of the human body and your skills of being an engineer to solve problems outside the scope of medical device design. Yes, you can definitely create an absolutely breathtaking new design for a pacemaker by being in R&D. But. You can also go into Quality and make sure that faulty designs and concepts are not being manufactured and causing harm to the world. You can go into Regulatory and be the whistleblower of the industry. You can even go into manufacturing and find ways by which your company can create 1000s of devices/drugs/therapeutics in a way that is more efficient, less wasteful and maybe at the end of the day more affordable, so it really is available to the WHOLE world.


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