Healthcare scientists work to diagnose, monitor, prevent, manage and treat illnesses and conditions using their understanding of human sciences, including biology, chemistry and physics. They use their expertise to improve patient care and save lives, or to help people live independent lives through rehabilitation, either with direct patient contact or in a supporting role.
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What do healthcare scientists do?
Healthcare Science Practitioners play a vital role in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a huge number of medical conditions, working alongside doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
- Audiologists identify and assess hearing capacity and balance function using the latest diagnostic equipment and software applications, working with patients of all ages as part of a team, recommending and providing appropriate therapeutic rehabilitation and management.
- Cardiac Physiologists diagnose and treat patients with heart or cardiovascular disease. They carry out ECGs, blood pressure measurements, tilt-table tests, exercise tolerance testing and echocardiograms. They assist in cardiac catheterisation as part of a multidisciplinary team who perform angiograms and interventions such as stents. They are also part of the multidisciplinary team that implant and programme devices to treat heart rhythm abnormalities such as pacemakers.
- Medical Engineers have a hands-on role in patient safety working with the introduction, testing, service, repair and decommissioning of Electro-Medical Equipment and Devices. These devices are used in all types of patient treatment from anaesthesia in operating theatres to life support and monitoring in critical care units to general monitoring and diagnostics in all kinds of general patient settings.
- Neurophysiologists investigate the functioning of the nervous system and the conditions that affect it, such as stroke, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, dementia, and nerve and muscle dysfunction, carrying out investigations in dedicated environments or departments, such as intensive care settings and operating theatres, working with patients of all ages
- Nuclear Medicine Technologists use isotopes and various forms of radioactive pharmaceuticals to diagnose and treat many diseases, including different types of cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal, endocrine and neurological disorders.
- Radiotherapy Physics dosimetrists plan patients’ radiotherapy treatments using advanced concepts and methodologies. Dosimetrists can also work to produce immobilisation devices for use during radiotherapy, perform quality control on the equipment used to deliver radiotherapy, or work in brachytherapy.
- Rehabilitation Engineers build and test a range of both custom-made and standard assistive technologies including wheelchairs, artificial limbs, robotic aids, and specialist seating. They use mapping systems, goniometers, inclinometer, joystick controllers and programmers and work with prosthetics.
- Respiratory and Sleep Physiologists diagnose and treat people with respiratory disease and sleep-related breathing disorders, such as asthma and cystic fibrosis. They contribute to the assessment of patients’ fitness for surgery and other treatments and see patients from other specialities like cardiology, surgery and oncology.
How do I become a healthcare scientist?
You can become a healthcare scientist by studying the undergraduate NHS Practitioner Training Programme (PTP) here at Swansea University. Our PTP degrees are full-time, 3-year programmes, which lead to an approved and accredited degree in cardiovascular or respiratory and sleep sciences, audiology or neurophysiology, radiotherapy physics or nuclear medicine, or medical engineering or rehabilitation engineering.
"...this course allows me to delve into the world of the brain and nervous system whilst having an active communication with patients.
Work experience helped me blend lectures into real life clinical experience while in a safe and helpful environment. I was able to travel Wales for free by working hard in the week and exploring each new area on the weekends."
Find out more about Harriet Wesson's Student Story
What makes Healthcare Sciences at Swansea stand out from the crowd?
We are ranked Top 10 in the UK for Anatomy and Physiology (Guardian 2023) and our courses are fully accredited by professional industry bodies. Our excellent facilities provide realistic workplace simulations and many of our academic staff in Health Sciences are practising clinicians, providing invaluable professional insight and expertise.
We train across the breadth of allied clinical roles, which gives you access to a wealth of clinical experience from our teaching staff where our commitment to evidence-informed teaching will put you at the forefront of your chosen healthcare sciences discipline and prepare you to make a difference as part of a clinical team.
How long does it take to become a healthcare scientist?
The Practitioner Training Programme programmes at Swansea University are full-time programmes and take three years to complete. The programmes combine theoretical, practical and simulated teaching and learning with roughly 50 weeks of workplace-based training in the NHS. In the first year, training is broad, and in the second and third years you specialise in the areas of interest to you.
What is a healthcare science degree?
The Practitioner Training Programmes aim to provide undergraduate degrees that; are science-based, develop patient-centred skills and knowledge in an area of healthcare science; and enable learners to fulfil the function of a Healthcare Science Practitioner.
What subjects do you need for healthcare science?
Entry requirements for our healthcare science degree courses can be found on our healthcare science course pages and depends on the specialism you are interested in will change the subject mix we need to ensure you will be successful whilst studying with us.
You can find each course entry requirements here:
- Healthcare Science (Audiology), BSc (Hons)
- Healthcare Science (Cardiac Physiology), BSc (Hons)
- Healthcare Science (Medical Engineering), BSc (Hons)
- Healthcare Science (Neurophysiology), BSc (Hons)
- Healthcare Science (Nuclear Medicine), BSc (Hons)
- Healthcare Science (Radiation Physics), BSc (Hons)
- Healthcare Science (Radiotherapy Physics), BSc (Hons)
- Healthcare Science (Rehabilitation Engineering), BSc (Hons)
- Healthcare Science (Respiratory and Sleep Physiology), BSc (Hons)
What can I do with a healthcare science degree?
Once you have graduated from the programme you will be a qualified Healthcare Science Practitioner and you will be eligible to apply for professional registration:
Graduates will be eligible to apply for Professional Standards Authority (PSA) Accredited Voluntary Registration via the Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS), as well as the Registration Council for Clinical Physiologists (RCCP), or Register for Clinical Technologists (RCT)
By successfully completing an accredited healthcare science degree, you will have proven the knowledge, skills and behaviours in applied scientific techniques within a discipline or related disciplines, to work in a range of healthcare settings as a Healthcare Science Practitioner. You will have a clearly defined role in the delivery of investigations and interventions for patients and technical reporting of quality-assured tests on patients, patient samples and medical equipment. In a number of disciplines, Healthcare Science Practitioners provide therapeutic interventions, some of which are specialist.
You can find more information about the Practitioner Training Programme from the National School of Healthcare Science.
Fully Funded Degree
Choosing to follow your passion for healthcare could pay. This range of degrees is fully funded via the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme.
What this could mean for you is, if you commit to working for NHS Wales for a period after you graduate your tuition will be fully covered by the NHS Wales Bursary, as well as maintenance funding of up to £4,491 and a reduced rate loan from Student Finance.Find out about the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme
Our Healthcare Sciences Degrees
Our Audiology degree will give you a full and holistic understanding of how to assess hearing capacity and balance function using the latest diagnostic equipment and software applications. Throughout your course you will observe clinics in our purpose built Health and Wellbeing Academy gain experience in commercial settings and build your skills and confidence in clinical work placements at hospitals.
Course Page: Healthcare Science (Audiology), BSc (Hons)
Studying Audiology you will have the choice as to whether they receive funding from the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme, and therefore commit to working in NHS Wales for a number of years, or via Student Loans and Grants.
Want to find out More about Swansea
Feeling inspired to train for a career in the NHS? Take the time to explore our campus from the comfort of your own home using our virtual tour, talk to some of our current students about what it is like studying at Swansea and make sure you register for our next Open Day where you can experience Swansea, our community and our courses in person.