Marie Culliton MSc MBA FACSLM
President, European Association for Professions in Biomedical Science
More than 70% clinical decisions are based on a diagnostic test; however, the biomedical scientists who provide this essential service remain invisible. Throughout Europe, biomedical scientists are a group of educated and professionally trained scientists who are dedicated to the provision of a quality laboratory service for the diagnosis and monitoring of disease.
The practice of biomedical science covers the diverse areas of clinical biochemistry, haematology, microbiology, pathology, immunology, transfusion science and molecular biology, with many subspecialties in each area. These professionals are at the heart of healthcare, providing the vital scientific information that allows doctors and nurses to do their job.
They measure vital blood chemicals, provide blood for transfusions, detect the bacteria or virus causing infection and detect the presence of genes causing disease. They are also involved in cancer diagnosis. Patient safety requires that the scientists undertaking complex molecular diagnostics have a thorough understanding of the methodology and the factors that influence the quality of result.
The role of the biomedical scientist is not finished when the correct result is produced. The value-added contribution is made by ensuring that the results of analysis are interpreted in the correct context with the appropriate inferences being made for optimal patient care. These are the hidden diagnostic partners.
The European Association for Professions in Biomedical Science (EPBS) is committed to promoting best practice and ethics for biomedical scientists throughout Europe representing 21 countries. Membership is open to national organisations representing Biomedical Scientists. EPBS has an agreed policy on education for Biomedical Scientists and has published a guide for educators.
It is EPBS policy that all Biomedical Scientists should have access to Masters Programmes that meet their specific needs. We are working with four higher institutes of education in Coimbra, Dublin, Gothenburg and Vienna to provide a two year full time Joint Masters in Biomedical Science (JMD Marble). In addition, EPBS has formed an Academic Network for colleges offering courses in Biomedical Science.
The EPBS holds its annual meeting in one of the member countries. This meeting acts as a forum for exchange of ideas, discusses models of good practice and agrees positions on European initiatives pertaining to the practice of biomedical science. The Martin Nicholson Award is presented to the best student poster at this meeting. A new innovation has been the introduction of a one day conference. The inaugural conference, in Dublin, was on the vision for the profession, and last year we considered the topic of point-of-care testing where the patient is the point.
The EPBS embraces the concept of lifelong learning. Our conference this year will focus on continuous professional development (CPD) and its contribution to patient safety, building on the EucoLABS project, a credit transfer system for CPD, which reported in 2012.
Looking at the contents of this publication we see that modern molecular methods are being translated into the clinical laboratory setting. The scientists undertaking this work must have the knowledge, skills and competence to do so. EPBS is working with the professional associations and European colleges to ensure that our biomedical scientists are prepared for the future.