Here are the questions you asked our panel of people who work in the medical devices sector in Ireland.
With many job functions required you can work in design, manufacturing, quality or finance to name a few. Biomedical engineering is not a necessity to work in this sector but is a very good course if you would like to work in the research and design of medical devices.
Other engineering courses such as mechanical engineering can also provide you with the knowledge required for designing parts. Science courses are also very relevant to the sector as many devices now involve the use of drugs, so companies now require more and more scientists when developing products.
The sector is constantly growing as more and more devices are being developed to help in the treatment and prevention of many diseases. It’s a very enjoyable and challenging environment to work in with the opportunity help people on a daily basis.
Cook Medical hires people from a diversity of backgrounds. Courses such as Mechanical Engineering, Product Design, Manufacturing/Industrial Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Science are courses to consider which may lead to a career in the medical device sector.
Alternatively, if you are not interested in engineering and science Cook Ireland also hire people with marketing, business, accounting and HR qualifications who work in various departments within the company structure.
John Burton (Vitalograph): The design and development of medical devices requires a multi-disciplined approach with a range of different but interconnected skill-sets being required to develop the devices. The type of device being developed will determine which skill-sets are required.
In Vitalograph we develop respiratory diagnostic medical devices. Within our R&D department, the majority of people have come from an engineering background.
For example, in Vitalograph’s R&D department the courses the majority of people studied include Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Software Engineering/Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering. Our team also includes a graphical designer and we work regularly with industrial designers.
Vitalograph also employs clinical respiratory experts to provide expert input/advise into our devices and to provide our customers with training and feedback.
Jenny Navan (CPL): To work within the medical device sector a wide range of backgrounds are desirable. Biomedical Engineering is a very good option, Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry and Analytical Science are also courses that are regularly sought.
The electives you chose in college, the thesis subject and the location of your work placement can all make it a little easier to secure work in this sector too.
John Burton: Firstly, assess where your current strengths lie and try to pick a course that complements your strengths.
If possible, try to pick a course where your final skill-set can be applied across a range of industries. This approach ensures that if there are pressures within a particular industry sector, your skills will be transferrable and an asset to companies in other industry sectors.
For example, I studied Computer Science and Information Systems. Software is now embedded in nearly everything we do today, so I have been able to work in industries and projects across a range of sectors including financial, telecom billing, eLearning, military, eCommerce and now the medical devices sector – where many medical devices are becoming increasingly reliant on software.
Alison Liddy: I would suggest you choose a course that incorporates the subjects that you were passionate about in secondary school.
Enquire about the types of career paths that graduates from these courses pursue. Meet with people who are working in the types careers you are interested in, find out about what their job entails on a day-to-day basis.
Jenny Navan: I would always recommend trying to find out what past pupils have done and where they are now working. Most college career guidance coaches will keep a database of what past pupils move into after college and that can give you a really good idea of how well regarded a course is.
If at all possible, try to get into a college course that has a very practical element to it, and ideally one that will help you obtain an industry placement, either during the summer months or as part of the degree itself.
This really gives you a better understanding for your studies, and gives you a better starting point when you finish college and start looking to get a job in the sector.
It’s also really important when you’re looking at college courses that there is a good support structure in place and that the lecturers are up to speed with current practices.
With the industry changing so quickly, a college course taught by people with industry experience is brilliant, or if you can see how often the course curriculum is revised, that is also a help. Go to as many open days as possible, and ask plenty of questions!
Paul Martin (Abbot Diabetes Care): Yes. Recently, our company went recruiting for our Graduate Development Programme, and we have discovered that some of the best and most driven candidates are coming from ITs.
Personally, when I am reviewing CVs, I concentrate on the award and how it is applicable to the role that is available – it is secondary to me whether the award came from a university or an IT.
If you are choosing whether to go to an IT or a university, concentrate on the quality of the course, and the reputation that credible courses gather as years go by. Also concentrate on the potential quality of your student experience before you choose between an IT and a university.
John Burton: The Level 8 degree regardless of whether it’s from a university or IT is a good first step in getting yourself recognised by an employer. Excellent candidates can come from either type of institution.
Both will help you get noticed but what will really matter to an employer is how well the candidate applied themselves in obtaining their degree, how strong the candidate is and what they have to offer the employer.
Jenny Navan: A lot of the ITs actually have a higher emphasis on practical learning and industry based projects which can be very attractive to employers for certain jobs, so in some cases an IT can even be more of an advantage.
The main thing to remember, regardless of where you study, is that the course is well taught and that you get a good grade, and that your skills – be they from a university or IT – are transferrable and relevant to the job you’re applying for.
No matter where you chose to study, work hard and aim for a 2.1 at a minimum to give you the best chance possible.