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Biomedical Science Education and Practice in Ireland. Dr Tom Scott School of Biological Sciences Dublin Institute of Technology. Developments 1950s. IBMS qualifying professional body. Intermediate examination. multi-disciplinary Final examination. Specialist subject.

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Biomedical Science Education and Practice in Ireland

  • Dr Tom Scott

  • School of Biological Sciences

  • Dublin Institute of Technology

Developments 1950s

  • IBMS qualifying professional body.

  • Intermediate examination.

    • multi-disciplinary

  • Final examination.

    • Specialist subject.

    • Associateship of IBMS.

    • Fellowship of IBMS- final examination in second subject.

Developments in UK

  • The IBMS adopted the ONC/OND and HNC/HND system for qualification in 1965.

  • An Irish equivalent, specifically for MLS, was established in 1966.

  • IBMS introduced the Special Fellowship examination.

Course Structure in Ireland

  • Certificate course-.

    • Multi-disciplinary.

  • One year full –time.

  • Two years block release.

    • Two blocks each of six weeks duration.

  • Diploma course.

    • Major in one MLS discipline.

  • Two years block release.

    • Two blocks each of twelve weeks duration.

Revised Certificate Course

  • In 1979 the course was restructured.

  • Two year full-time College course.

  • One year Clinical Laboratory Placement:

    • Approved training laboratories

    • Log-book

    • Assessment

    • Multi-disciplinary Training

      Students paid a training grant.

Fellowship of IBMS

  • IBMS modified the requirements for Fellowship in 1980’s.

    • Mandatory course attendance

    • Project component

  • In 1987 the IBMS introduced the new Part I and Part II Fellowship course.

Employment grades

  • Basic Grade Medical Laboratory Technician.

    • Certificate in MLS

  • Senior Medical Laboratory Technician.

    • Diploma in MLS

  • Medical Laboratory Technologist or a Chief Technologist.

    • Fellowship of IBMS

Degree Course Development

  • First Degree courses in Biomedical Science appeared in the UK in the late 1970’s.

  • The University of Ulster introduced a Degree course in the early 1980’s.

  • In the Republic of Ireland the DIT introduced a degree course in 1989 and a joint UCC/ CIT degree course commenced in 1990.

Degree course structure and content

  • Five year course inclusive of clinical laboratory placement year.


  • Initial years: multi-disciplinary

  • Final years: Major and minor in MLS and Biology of Disease


  • Initial years: multi-disciplinary

  • Final years: multi-disciplinary

Requirements for Employment

  • The Department of Health and Children altered the requirements for employment in 1997.

  • Applicants must possess:

    • BSc in Biomedical Science

      Or possess a recognised equivalent qualification,

      and be a member or be eligible for membership of the Academy of Medical Laboratory Science.

Post-Graduate Development

  • During the 1980’s an increasing number of staff sought to attain post-graduate qualifications both through taught MSc courses and attaining MSc or PhD by research.

  • Interest in attaining qualification by Fellowship examination declined.

Post-Graduate courses

MSc in Biomedical Science commenced in University of Ulster in late 1980s.

MSc in Molecular Pathology, jointly taught by the Faculty of Health Sciences , Trinity College and the School of Biological Sciences, DIT, commenced in 1997.

Professional Developments

  • The Medical Laboratory Technologists Association was founded in 1960.

  • Significant improvement in the salary scales and promotional grade structures.

  • Medical Laboratory Science became an attractive career.

Academy of Medical Laboratory Science

  • Formed in 1970 to promote the academic development of Medical Laboratory Science.

  • The Academy gradually became more intimately involved in professional and educational developments and is now the major force in this area.

  • In 1996 the Academy was appointed by the Minister of Health as the Designated Authority.

Impact of Educational Developments

  • The thrust for degree course development was driven by a recognition of the increasingly scientific nature of Medical Laboratory Science.

  • The profession sought the formal recognition of this by a change in title for medical laboratory science staff and the introduction of a unified career structure.

Staffing Structure 2001

  • Pathologists-Laboratory Directors.

  • Medical Laboratory Technician / Senior MLT/Medical Technologists/Chief Technologists.

  • Biochemists, Basic/ Senior/ Principal/Top Grade.

Expert Group Report

  • Recently Expert Groups were established, by the Department of Health and Children, to examine: the changing role of the health care professions, the impact of educational changes, career structures and designated title.

Expert Group Report

  • Change in title to Medical Scientist.

    • Staff grade Medical Scientist

    • Senior Medical Scientist

    • New grade, Specialist Medical Scientist

    • Chief Medical Scientist

  • Salary scales for Biochemists and Medical Scientists be equalised, supporting the concept of a unified career structure.

    Potential for Consultant level Scientist posts in all disciplines to be evaluated.

Current Perspectives

  • While the primary function is for service provision and development, there is a also a complementary research function.

  • In Ireland, because of the educational developments at undergraduate and post-graduate level, both of these functions can be addressed.

  • The move towards a more unified career structure will ensure that progression can reflect the aspirations and abilities of staff.

Back to the Future

  • Major educational and professional changes have occurred over a forty year span.

  • Entrants to the profession can now realistically aspire to achieve the highest level of professional /scientific appointments.

  • The Academy has a significant role to play, in securing the future development of the profession and in reinforcing our ability to contribute to the development of the Science of Pathology.

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