What does a clinical support worker do?
A clinical support worker's duties could include a range of lab skills, such as:
- labelling, sorting and storing specimens
- assisting with the analysis of tissue and fluid samples
- putting together chemical solutions
- loading and operating machines
- using a computer to input and analyse data
- disposing of hazardous waste
- sterilising equipment
- maintaining stock levels
Part of the work may also include responding to telephone enquiries as well as the keeping and filing of records.
This role could involve working closely with scientists in a range of areas, such as:
- biochemistry – studying chemical reactions in the body, such as kidney failure
- histopathology – examining the structure of diseased tissue
- virology – analysing viruses, the diseases they cause, and vaccines
- cytology – studying the structure and function of cells, and screening for cancers
- haematology – analysing diseases of the blood and blood forming tissues
- immunology – examining how the immune system works, for example with allergies
- transfusion science – transferring blood and blood products from one person to another
This role could be combined with a role within a closely related area of work, such as phlebotomy.
What do I need to do to become a clinical support worker?
You would normally need a good general standard of education, such as GCSEs in English, maths and a science. An understanding of medical terminology and some experience of working in a healthcare or lab setting would be useful. Contact the voluntary services coordinator at your local NHS Trust for further advice about opportunities.
You could take a college course, for instance the Certificate/Diploma in Applied Science at Levels 2 or 3, to help improve your chances of finding work. Check with your local college for more details.
Another way to get into this type of work is through an apprenticeship. Schemes vary between NHS Trusts. They include clinical placements and study towards a relevant qualification, for example a Level 3 Diploma in Pathology Support.
You could also contact your local NHS Trust for details of schemes in your area.
- GCSEs in English, maths and a science subject
- Certificate or Diploma in Applied Science at Levels 2 or 3
Where could I be working?
You would be based in clean and sometimes sterile lab conditions. However, your work could involve dealing with unpleasant or challenging sights and smells from infectious materials, body fluids and biological samples. At times you may need to wear protective clothing, gloves, glasses and a mask to prevent contamination.
As well as the lab, you may work in a clinic and with patients on wards or in a GP practice. You could also have clerical duties and spend some time in an office.