Medical Physics

Share this item

You’ve probably never heard of us, but we’re always there…

Medical Physics can be traced back to two basic ideas:

  • Taking images of your insides
  • Treating diseases like cancer

Medical Physicists are generally in the background on any imaging or treatment system using ionising or non-ionisingradiation.  Lots of us are not in patient-facing roles, so most people never know about what we do.

While it may not seem like it, there’s loads of physics involved in medicine.

Let’s find out more…

Watch Daniel’s video

See Daniel’s Presentation

Follow this link to download the above presentation
Daniel’s Presentation

Q&A with Daniel

What qualifications did you come out of school with?
I had 3 A-levels (physics, chemistry and maths) and one AS level (computer studies).

Did you intend to become a biomedical scientist or how did you get into your career?
I had no idea what I wanted to do after university, but I had developed an interest in medical physics from one of my university modules, I just wasn’t sure how to get into it.  As you can see from the next question it was a long and windy route to get to where I am now.

What was your career pathway?
After university I became a qualified secondary school science teacher, but I decided to retrain by doing a Medical Physics MSc course at university.  After that it took a bit of time but I got an entry level position into the Radiation Protection department at RMH, before progressing to the Practitioner Training Programme (PTP) in Radiotherapy Physics.  I’m a registered Healthcare Science Practitioner now and I’m working towards registration as a Clinical Scientist, which is the next step up.  I am also doing some work in the Diagnostic Radiology department.  My route is not exactly typical, though quite a few people have done physics or science related courses prior to shifting their focus to medical physics.

What qualifications do you have and how many years has it taken you in study?
I spent 3 years on my BSc in Maths and Physics (2005-8), 1 year on my Medical Physics MSc (2011-12), and 2 years on a graduate diploma programme as part of the fast track PTP scheme (2016-18).  As you can see they’re well spread out! I also spent a year on a university course in teacher training in 2008-9.

Why did you choose to be a biomedical scientist?
I developed the interest in medical physics at university, however didn’t really know how to get into it.  After deciding to move on from teaching I chased my dream with further study.

What professional bodies are you affiliated to?
I am a member of the Institute of Physics (IoP) and the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM).  I am also a registered Healthcare Science Practitioner with the Academy for Health Care Science (AHCS) and on the Register of Clinical Technologists (RCT).

What do you like best about your job?
I particularly enjoy doing the quality control checks on the treatment and imaging machines, making sure they’re working as accurately as possible.  I also like going into operating theatres to support brachytherapy work.
Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy used to treat cancer. It places radioactive sources inside the patient to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This allows your doctor to use a higher total dose of radiation to treat a smaller area in less time.

What do you like least?
I don’t really like being stuck at my desk for too long but it happens, some of the paperwork isn’t that interesting but it has to be done!

Do you make a good living out of being a Biomedical Scientist?
I think I do, qualifying from the main training schemes will bring you out at either band 6 or 7 depending on which route you took, and it’s a reasonable wage with room to progress in the future.  Working in Central London does also help as there is extra money in working in the London area.

What fun things/interests do you do in your spare time?
I spend a lot of time volunteering with my local football club, as well as following them home and away.  I’m also a Beaver Scout Leader.

Could you have become a biomedical scientist without going to University?
I’m not sure, as both of the main routes require some kind of university course (they both contain hospital placements, and the Scientist Training Programme does actually pay a wage to train) but there are direct entry routes, though they are rare and would probably require some kind of background in the subject.  There are also equivalent training schemes for other areas of medical scientists.

Please give us your feedback

There is a short Quiz incorporated into the Feedback form and the students providing the highest number of correct answers will be entered into a prize draw for a £50 Amazon voucher. Why not try your luck?

Share this item