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Engineering careers

Medical & Pharmaceutical Engineering

Medical and pharmaceutical engineering summarized

When it comes down to it, nothing is more important than our health. There are so many opportunities to work in fields where you can have an impact on people’s lives, but nothing more than this particular area of work. Devising new methods, technologies and products to improve our health and fight against disease is a truly rewarding career to pursue.

The small matter of saving people’s lives makes this sector just that little bit important. When we’re talking about medical and pharmaceutical engineering, it’s all about designing, developing and manufacturing various medical products aimed at improving people’s lives.

What’s the difference between medical and pharmaceutical engineering?

Well, the medical side of things is more about surgical instruments, prosthetic limbs, crutches and general medical equipment.

Pharmaceutical engineers, by contrast, are more focused on medicinal products. Researching, testing and producing various drugs for public consumption is the order of the day in this line of work. However, when it comes to the day-to-day job of a medical engineer, it all depends on your area of specialism.

For example, if you’re involved in joint replacements, it’s all about ascertaining what the body’s limitations are, what material should be used and how it should be constructed. Once a working prototype is created, it then needs to be rigorously tested. If it meets all the necessary requirements, it’s then handed over to a surgeon to put it in place.

You could be designing new medical equipment for use in surgery or designing a life support machine. Basically, literally anything mechanical that’s used in healthcare settings will be a product of medical engineering.

If you become a pharmaceutical engineer, you will be researching and developing new medicines, drugs and pharmaceutical products. However, other types of engineer can commonly be involved in this field too. For example, chemical and biotechnology engineers will often work on the development of drugs and medicines. Essentially, your responsibility is to take that magic pill and scale it up massively. For example, when the bird flu epidemic seemed to be inevitable, the government requested huge volumes of medicine to curb a disaster.

How do you become a medical or pharmaceutical engineer?

Well, the most common route into one of these professions is by studying for a relevant engineering or science degree, such as chemical engineering, mechanical engineering or chemistry. It’s not exclusive though — there are various work-based learning routes, such as engineering apprenticeships, which provide you with both a salary and a rigorous training environment. It must be noted, though, that if you get a degree, your entry point into the profession will generally be higher.

Who hires medical and pharmaceutical engineers?

The big question, though, is: who will be employing you?! If it’s the pharmaceutical engineer route you’re looking to take, gigantic pharmaceutical companies are the most likely destination. You may also find yourself in a research institute, a university lab or a health service organisation. When it comes to the medical side of things, there are many of the latter out there, and they are always on the lookout for new talent.

We’re very sorry if we’ve crushed your dreams of turning Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader, or building a real Inspector Gadget. However, let’s keep it real – there are tons of incredible positions available in medical and pharmaceutical engineering, all of them equally important in transforming people’s lives for the better.