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Biomedical Engineer
Biomedical engineers use engineering and scientific principles and techniques to solve medical and health-related problems in biology, medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science.

Biomedical engineers design and develop medical instruments and devices such as heart-lung machines, iron lungs, artificial kidney machines, realistic artificial limbs and organs such as heart valves and hips, pacemakers and monitoring devices. They also adapt computers to be of service to medicine.

Research ranges from the study of the engineering aspects of human biological systems to the improvement of existing medical devices. They design and develop equipment for medical imaging to display anatomical detail or physiological function. They may arrange testing to ensure the continuing safety of electronic, electrical and mechanical equipment used for diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of patients.

Some biomedical engineers advise and recommend the purchase of new equipment to administrators. They are also often involved with the training and supervision of technicians.

Biomedical engineers plan data processing services and the development of associated computing programs. They also analyze new medical procedures to forecast likely outcomes. They diagnose and interpret bioelectric data using signal processing techniques and provide computer analyzes of patient-related data.

They are concerned with the safety and effectiveness of instruments and devices and also advise on patient management. Engineers in this field often consult their medical and paramedical colleagues to find solutions to problems in the treatment of patients. This leads to the design, construction and development of instruments and devices that may help to relieve suffering and improve the quality of the patient's life. They analyze and design prosthetic and orthotic devices particularly for those with disabilities.

Biomedical engineers must have a good theoretical and practical knowledge of engineering, a sound understanding of medical sciences and the ability to combine the two. They usually work in multidisciplinary teams with other professionals including nurses, surgeons, anaesthetists, other medical specialists, physiotherapists, and occupational and speech therapists.

Specializations include:
- Bio-engineering whereby engineering principles are applied to the study of biological systems and processes
- Clinical Engineers research, develop and maintain instruments and equipment to aid clinical staff
- Rehabilitation Engineers deal with systems and devices that improve the quality of life of people with disabilities

Satisfying Aspects
- the satisfaction of knowing that one's work may help others and the medical field in general
- working with people
- the variety of one's work tasks
- working in the medical field

Demanding aspects
- the frustration, which may be involved in doing research
- not being able to find an ideal solution to a patient's problem

A biomedical engineer should:
- work well with others
- have effective communication skills
- have precise observation and measurement skills
- be able to work independently and in a team
- be persevering and flexible
- have patience and imagination
- have analytical, problem-solving and designing skills
- have mechanical ability
- have manual dexterity and good eye-hand coordination

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences

Degree: UKZN, UNISA and Wits offer degree courses in Biomedical Engineering. The Department of Biomedical Engineering forms part of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Cape Town and the Groote Schuur group of teaching hospitals.

Postgraduate study: Since undergraduate training in Engineering or physical sciences is an entry requirement, courses in Biomedical Engineering consist of post-graduate programmes leading to the following degrees:

BSc (Med)(Hons) Biomedical Science.
MSc (Med) Biomedical Engineering or Biomedical Science
MPhil and PhD

A Biomedical Engineer who wants to practise in a clinical setting must register with the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as a Biomedical Engineer. An MSc (Med) degree in Biomedical Engineering is recognized by the Engineering Council of South Africa and by the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as partial credit towards registration as a Professional Engineer and a Biomedical Engineer respectively.

- The Centre for Engineering and Health Care, University of Cape Town
- Hospitals and other health care facilities
- Medical research institutes
- Universities
- Medical electronics industry
- Self-employment, with the necessary experience - set up a private firm to develop, design, manufacture and market medical instruments and devices, as well as to offer consulting services.

Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA)    
Private Bag X 691
Bruma, 2026
Tel: (011) 607-9500 Fax: (011) 622-9295

School of Electrical and Information Engineering
University of the Witwatersrand
Private Bag 3
Wits, 2050

Department of Biomedical Engineering
Faculty of Medicine
University of Cape Town
Observatory, 7925

Department of Electronic Engineering
University of Pretoria
Brooklyn, 0181