Here are the questions you asked our panel of people who work in the medical devices sector in Ireland.
Alison Liddy (Cook Medical): There are various career options if you study two different science subjects for your Leaving Cert. I would suggest you choose a third-level course that incorporates the areas of biology and chemistry that are of particular interest to you.
Your career path will be determined by what course you study at third level. If you are interested in Chemistry and Biology then a third-level course such as: Chemical Engineering, Biochemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Medical Science or Science may be good options for you.
Jenny Navan (CPL): There are a huge amount of options for Chemistry and Biology students, depending on how far you progressed with your education.
If you were to complete the Leaving Cert with a strong honours grade in Chemistry and Biology and wanted to go straight into the workforce, you could look to take on a position like a Sampling and Dispensing Technician or Lab Assistant in one of the large multinationals.
You would be responsible for helping the lab analysts prepare their samples, wash the glassware, prepare the vials and ensure the stock of raw materials was available for testing.
Or if you were looking for something more hands on you could look into a career as a Process Technician, where you would be responsible for manufacturing the actual drug products in a highly regulated clean room environment.
If you decided to go on and study further, at all levels of the education system there are job opportunities.
These could either be based within a laboratory setting (Quality Control, Analytical Scientist, R&D), in more of an office environment such as jobs in regulatory affairs, quality assurance, pharmacovigilance or in production, such as Production Chemist or Biochemist, Process Technician, Production Technologist, Manufacturing Technologist etc or sales.
The variety of choices is vast, but the amount of options definitely varies depending on the level of education you attain.
Sarah Jane Lye (Creganna-Tactx Medical): Studying any of the science subjects in secondary school can provide you with many career options, particularly in teaching, science and engineering areas.
Students who have completed a science subject may gain entry to many courses such as life sciences, health sciences, animal science, even medicine, veterinary and the medical device sector.
Also, science subjects can be very beneficial to you if you are interested in engineering as most engineering courses require completion of at least one science subject.
If you have an interest in working in the medical device sector, any science subject is relevant as there are many areas you can work in such as the design of devices which would incorporate some biology and physics, or drug design which would incorporate chemistry. For further information on career options available to you, you can view the Careers Portal website.
Jenny Navan: Mathematics at an honours level would definitely be advisable; each college course has different requirements so you’d need to look into your CAO choices in detail.
Physics and Biology are a definite advantage too, and would make the learning curve a little less steep once you get to college, but they wouldn’t be critical to most courses as far as I’m aware.
Alison Liddy: If you are thinking of studying Biomedical Engineering then it would be a good to study Physics and Biology for your Leaving Cert and honours Mathematics. Having a basic understanding of these subjects will make it easier to excel in engineering and science courses at third level.
Jenny Navan: The sector probably doesn’t get as much publicity as some of the “more glamorous” sectors.
Medical devices are typically less well known to the general public than some of the blockbuster pharmaceuticals and biotech products that are manufactured in the country too; so with a general lack of awareness, there is more of an uphill struggle to promote the industry.
The partnerships between the medical devices companies and their local communities is a brilliant way to get to know more about the sector, but on a wider level there could definitely be more promotion of the sector, given how large an employer it is in the state, and the amount of revenue it creates.