1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Nursing student- wants to work in biomedical engineering

  1. Jul 10, 2015 #1
    I have grown up planning on going into engineering. I loveeee science and math! However, once I became a mom I decided that an engineering career might be harder to start with a child. So, I decided to go to school for nursing since medical sciences really interest me and the schedule is really appealing. I am in nursing school (BSN) and I am starting to feel like bedside nursing isn't for me. The idea of being a nurse that works in research or with engineers really interests me.

    Do any engineers have experience working with nurses or medical personnel? Any engineers with experience in Biomedical engineering? Are you employed through a research institution or hospital? Or by a medical device manufacturer?

    Do the nurses collaborating/working with the engineers need any additional education? What can I do to be qualified? Are there any jobs or internships that would help while I am in school? I really don't know how to get into this field (I'm in CO).

    Biomedical engineering (BME) really interested me so I am considering going to get a minor in BME and if I decide to go the engineering route later I can always get my masters in BME. Would any other minors be useful? Chemistry? Engineering? Math? Physics? Biology? How helpful would a minor be? If it's not that helpful I would rather not have to cram in an extra 20-30 credits while I am in nursing school.

    Any other fields that work with nurses? Pharmacology and chemistry really interest me as well.
    Any one in research that works with nurses?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 10, 2015 #2
    Change degrees.

    The sole key selling point you have as a nurse is that you have people skills/experience about making a patient feel at home.
    I doubt anyone has any respect for the scientific or medical knowledge of a nurse and would hire you based on that.

    At best a minor is only going to help your major, in some cases. A minor in x is going to help you do nursing. It is never going to help you do x.

    Btw, you need a MSc in BME, anything less is not useful.

    Wait, you have a child? Why? That changes everything. Why would you get a child when you haven't even figured out your own life yet? It is all about the child now. What is best for the child? I don't know.
    Even in your 30's, unless you have a fulltime stay at home dad(mom?), it is hard to have a career in science though easier to have one in engineering.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
  4. Jul 10, 2015 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    Why not? What was your motivation for starting nursing, what changed,what still appeals to you?
  5. Jul 10, 2015 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    This is an inappropriate statement. The fact that a person has a child is just that, a fact. This person came here looking for assistance on educational decisions that face her or him. A child is part of the equation. Maybe this was a conscious decision. Maybe it wasn't. But we are in no position to issue judgement on that either way.
  6. Jul 10, 2015 #5
    For a second, I thought you were kidding, because no reasonably respectful person would ever say this.
  7. Jul 10, 2015 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    To address some of the original questions...

    A lot can really depend on how far along you are in your degree and how viable it is to change gears at this point. If you've just completed your first year then tansferring to a BME degree might be the best option for you. If you're in your third or fourth year, looming student loans and family responsibilities may not really make that a possibility at this point.

    Generally speaking a monor doesn't qualify you for much. It's unlikely you would be able to get into a BME master's program with a nursing degree and a minor in engineering (if that's even a possibility for you). And even if you did get it, you would likely be struggling to keep up because of your background wouldn't match up with those of others in the program.

    That said, nursing is an extremely broad field.

    You could, for example, become a clinical trials nurse. These are people specifcially hired to monitor, collect and analyze data in clinical trials. A clinical trials nurse needs to have that patient-care related experience, but also be able to handle the scientific aspects of the study. A lot of nurses shy away from this kind of work because it can involve a lot of math and tends to remove you from the direct patient care. It would help if you could get a minor in statistics.

    Another avenue to consider might be public health where you would answer questions from the public, often over the phone.

    Or what about academic nursing - either going into nursing education or nursing research (since you may have an interest in gradaute school)? There are PhD nurses out there. They often explore questions about public health, nursing practice, triage, clinical errors, etc.
  8. Jul 10, 2015 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Yeah, if you don't enjoy the patient contacts (even with difficult Pts), then nursing or a primarily medical career doesn't seem to be a good match.

    I'm an EE full time, and work in EMS part time. I have a couple good friends who are biomedical engineers, and they love their work. Can you switch back to the engineering track, now that you know you don't really like Pt contacts? It does sound like BME would be a good fit for your interests... :smile:
  9. Jul 10, 2015 #8
    BME grad student here--we're just glorified biologists that know how to solve a few differential equations. Our job prospects are OK, but not amazing like some of the other engineering disciplines. IMO, you're in for a difficult job search with just a BME BS. A lot of our undergrads either go straight to medical school, consulting, business, or something completely unrelated to BME like medical device sales (which you can do with other degrees). There are many other fields that are already well established that employers, to put it simply, 'know better'. For example, if you are interested in bioinformatics and biostatistics, you could just pursue a computer science degree, which is much more sought after and employable. There is a massive, massive amount of bioinformatic information out there, more than anyone knows what to do with, and people that know how to do bioinformatics/biostats/programming will probably be in large demand for the foreseeable future with all of the new high-throughput, large data techniques out right now and all of the newer ones that are yet to come. It takes a highly trained specialist to sort through all of the data.
  10. Jul 10, 2015 #9


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    One of my good friends is an expert in imaging -- holding a very high post at Kaiser. My other BME friend is a very talented EE who transitioned to BME and has helped several startups to bring their products to market. I helped in a consulting role on one of those products. Great stuff.
  11. Jul 11, 2015 #10


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    I would like to clarify that bioinformatics and biostatistics are distinct job fields (although there can be considerable overlap) -- the former involves using computational methods in complex biological/medical problems (e.g. gene expression data, proteomics, gene regulatory networks; some people also lump applications of computational methods in epidemiological or hospital-related data into "bioinformatics" although this should really fall under "health informatics") while biostatistics is the application of statistical methods in medical related problems (in particular, in the design and analysis of clinical trials or health outcomes data) in places like hospitals, pharma/biotech companies, or consulting firms for the pharma/biotech industries.

    For the former, what you state about a computer science degree may suffice (although many bioinformatics workers have degrees in math, physics, applied math, engineering, etc) -- in particular, a combination of a nursing or another medical (or biology) degree with computer science is an especially powerful combination for bioinformatics. For biostatistics, I would recommend pursuing a statistics degree (either as a double-major or as a minor), and then pursue at least a MS in biostatistics or a related field like epidemiology (which many nursing BS students often pursue anyways).
  12. Jul 12, 2015 #11
    what do you mean why would she get a child...she didn't go buy it on a whim...life happens and she can still persue anything she wants as a mom itll just be a little more difficult, everyone doesn't have their lives figured out when their children come
  13. Jul 13, 2015 #12
    I work in biomedical engineering and I work with nurses. I am employed by a medical device manufacturer.

    Here are some thoughts for you. Nursing experience is a valuable addition to the kind of work I do. People with nursing backgrounds can fill roles in clinical research and clinical support. Where I work, these are two very different things. Clinical research roles primarily involve the clinical studies that are needed to demonstrate safety and efficacy of medical devices. Some nurses do very traditional things like assist in surgery, and some do other things like manage the clinical trials. Clinical support in my context means supporting our customers and patients in the field, providing appropriate information so that our users are properly trained to perform cases, and also being in the OR or cath lab when a case is in progress.

    It would be easier to get in to this kind of work if you have an advanced degree. An MSN would work, as would a BSN with perhaps a MS in whichever field of biology gets you done most quickly. In my opinion, a masters degree of 30 credits would be of greater value than a minor of thirty credits.

    On a slightly different tack, have you considered being a scrub nurse or a surgical tech? As Choppy says, nursing is an extremely broad field. Many nurses are involved in bedside care, but not all by any means.
  14. Dec 1, 2015 #13
    I currently work night shifts as a nurse while simultaneously in school for a degree in biomedical engineering. I am not saying this to brag but to let you know that is possible to do both, do not be afraid to keep your doors open. There is a huge overlap especially when it comes to developing products or improving on an idea. I love my biomedical engineer classmates but they lack clinical insight as to what is actually functional at the bedside. You will also get a diverse education as nursing and engineering are both focused on problem solving yet the approaches and personalities you encounter are very different.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook