Find out how to become a MLA, BMS or Clinical Scientist

Staff member looking in a microscope

Start or progress your career by joining the team at NHS East and South East London Pathology Partnership. You will have a direct effect on a large part of the the community and the patients staying within eight hospitals.

If you would like to know more about a career in Pathology, we invite you to visit these pages as they will give you an incite into our world. and


The three main scientific staff groups within pathology are Medical Laboratory Assistants (MLA), Biomedical Scientists (BMS) and Clinical Scientists. These groups work together as a team to produce laboratory results from clinical samples, which can be used directly in the treatment of patients.

Find out more about these different exciting roles below:




Medical Laboratory Assistant

MLAs are responsible for the receipting and sorting of diagnostic samples received in the laboratories for processing. They are also responsible for the transfer of patient identification information from these samples into the laboratory computer system. In certain disciplines they are also responsible for the processing of samples and a number of diagnostic tests.

The MLA post offers a good grounding in pathology for those wishing to advance within the profession whilst offering secure employment to those who wish to remain as an integral part of a wider team.

Training will be offered and you will be competency assessed to give you the confidence that you have the necessary skills to carry out your particular role. It should be remembered, however, that this is not a formal training route toward Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) registration.

Biomedical Scientist

Biomedical Scientists (BMS) are at the centre of the pathology laboratory and provide the results needed for the doctors to initiate treatment. The BMS works in a specific discipline within pathology and ensures that sample processing is completed to a high standard, within a clinically relevant timeframe. To have the title BMS you must be registered with the HCPC.

Registration ensures that all BMS work to a high level of competency and are up to date with current thinking within their profession. The quickest way to register as a BMS is to gain either an Institute of Biomedical Scientists (IBMS) accredited degree or an HCPC approved degree and complete an IBMS Registration Portfolio. You will then be awarded a Certificate of Competence which allows you to apply for HCPC registration. The registration portfolio can be completed at the end of your under-graduate course or during a laboratory placement year within your degree depending on the type of course studied.

If your degree is neither IBMS accredited or HCPC approved you may be asked to complete a series of “top up modules” which, when you have finished you registration portfolio, will enable you to apply for HCPC registration.

Once you are HCPC registered, we will support you in obtaining your IBMS Specialist Portfolio that will allow you to apply for band 6 roles. You may also wish to obtain further qualifications such as a MSc which will enable you further specialise within your chosen discipline and potentially move up the promotional ladder.

Clinical Scientist

Clinical scientists work alongside BMS and Clinicians in a wide range of specialisms, which can be split into three themes: life sciences, including clinical biochemistry, genomic counselling, haematology and transfusion science; physical sciences including, clinical engineering, medical physics and reconstructive science and physiological sciences, including audiology, critical care science and respiratory and sleep science. Their work is wide ranging and includes patient-facing roles, laboratory work, exercising clinical judgement, research, management and teaching.

Training to be a Clinical Scientist is done via a three year Scientist training programme (STP) which is a work-based learning programme, run by the National School of Healthcare Sciences (NSHCS) and includes a University accredited master’s degree. Trainees also complete an online portfolio of evidence. During their first two years of training, trainees rotate into different departments and specialise in their final two years. At the end of their STP and after a completion assessment, successful trainees gain a certificate of competence enabling them to be registered with the HCPC.

Healthcare scientists who have relevant experience, which is equivalent to STP training, but who have not been formally trained on the STP, can apply for equivalence through the Academy of Healthcare Scientists: Equivalence Guidance - The Academy For Healthcare Science (

Senior Clinical Scientists and Biomedical Scientists can further their training on the Higher Scientist Specialist Training (HSST) programme, a five year work-based learning programme, underpinned by a Doctoral award. It includes a PGDip Leadership and Management in the Healthcare Sciences, on-line portfolio of evidence, specialist exams and a research project. On successful completion of the programme, scientists are able to join the Higher Specialist Scientist Register and are eligible to apply for consultant level roles.

Recruitment to STP and HSST posts is done nationally by the NSHCS by direct entry to accredited departments or by an in-service route.

More information can be found on STP and HSST on the NSHCS webste: National School of Healthcare Science | Health Education England | NHS (