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Biomedical Technology - Overview


Biomedical technology programs prepare people to help engineers who design and build medical systems. Students learn to install and test products. They also learn to calibrate, maintain, and repair medical instruments.

Hospitals and even doctor's offices are now high-tech environments. Many wonderful devices have been invented to improve people's health. Some of these devices diagnose diseases, and others (such as pacemakers) help people's bodies to function.

These devices have very demanding requirements. First, they must do no harm. They can't be toxic or provoke the immune system. Second, they have to be extremely reliable, because people's lives depend on them. Also, if they are implanted into bodies, they have to be very small, light, and quiet. And finally, they can't be outrageously expensive.

In a biomedical technology program, you learn how this technology works. You start with a foundation of biology, chemistry, and physics. You also study the math that supports these sciences. Then, you focus on electronic circuits and microprocessors.

You study how biomedical instruments and other devices are used. You may even have an internship in a medical setting. This lets you get real experience working with these devices.

Academic programs in this field vary greatly. About 65 colleges offer two-year programs leading to an associate degree. Most of these prepare you to be a technician who installs, calibrates, and repairs these devices. You can find work in hospitals and other healthcare settings.

A small number of these two-year programs prepare you to be an engineering technician who works in research and development. In this kind of job, you are part of the engineering team. You help engineers make their designs work. You construct prototypes and test them. You gather data on the performance of new parts and procedures.

About 25 colleges offer four-year programs in this field. These programs cover mostly the same subjects in greater depth and lead to a bachelor's degree. They are more likely to teach engineering technology and prepare you for research and development. Often they are a specialization within the department of electrical engineering. You may want to use this degree as a stepping-stone to medical school.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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