Friday, 19th April 2019


Clinical support workers are assistants that work to support doctors and medical scientists, providing technical and administrative support in many types of situations. Clinical support workers can either work in pathology laboratories or hospital wards.

Duties will vary depending on the area of work that the clinical support worker is involved in, but generally the term ‘clinical’ refers work within a healthcare setting, such as a hospital or medical research centre.

Most clinical support workers will specialise in one particular area of pathology-related clinical science, including:

  • Biochemistry - studying human body chemical reactions
  • Immunology - examining the immune system and viruses
  • Haematology - focusing on blood and related diseases
  • Cytology - studying the structure of cells and screening for cancer
  • Histology - studying anatomy of cell tissue

However, some may choose to work in a range of disciplines, allowing themselves opportunities to work in different places. General tasks of clinical support workers are likely to include the following:

  • Making up chemical solutions
  • Preparing appropriate laboratory equipment
  • Analysing data using computers and machines
  • Collecting human fluid samples (in a health care setting)
  • Sorting and labelling samples for storage
  • Disposing of chemical and biological waste safely
  • Replenishing stocks and supplies
  • Monitoring machines and data

In pathology labs, clinical support workers will usually have more general lab duties, assisting research scientist with sorting samples, recording data and monitoring machines. In a hospital ward, clinical support workers will work alongside doctors and nurses, taking blood samples (known as phlebotomy) from patients, and operating screening machines.

The position of clinical support worker is not an obvious stepping stone to becoming a biomedical scientist, as there are little to no higher education qualifications required for entry. Most job vacancies are likely to be advertised through the NHS website.