Sixth formers get measure of career in medical physicsGeraint Williams, EBME Site Lead with Patrick Hill and sixth form learners Darci Tyler, Jack Huang, Simon Rogers and Rowan Boardman
High-flying sixth formers have been getting the measure of a career in medical physics.
Science learners from Emrys ap Iwan were given an insight into the world of medical physics. They attended an event at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan which was organised by Julian MacDonald, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s head of radioisotope physics and clinical engineering.
Healthcare scientists working in medical physics apply physics and technical skills to the practice of medicine to help prevent, diagnose and treat many kinds of diseases and health conditions.
Sixth former Darci Tyler said: “The visit to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd has really opened my mind to new career opportunities. It’s definitely given me something to think about.”
Fellow sixth former, Jack Huang added: “There are real career opportunities within medical physics and, once I’ve been to university and hopefully got my degree, medical physics is something I’m going to have to carefully consider as a career option.”
Julian MacDonald was delighted by the enthusiastic response from the sixth formers.
He said: “I’m thrilled with how the visit went. It is the first time we have done this. The students were so switched on, mature and asked many pertinent and well thought questions. I certainly hope to be inviting schools along again in the future. Medical physics isn’t widely known about, or advertised as a career option, so we wanted to raise awareness of it and showcase its many facets.”
The event began with a short introduction and a brief careers video before learners were split into groups for a tour around various departments so they could see various aspects of medical physics.
The learners had the opportunity to visit radiotherapy and see how a linear accelerator works and the processes and planning behind the delivery of treatments to patients.
They also had the opportunity to see diagnostic imaging equipment such as CT scanners and learn how they are used. There was also a demonstration of biomedical equipment used by the NHS, such as mechanical ventilators and pulse oximetry, as well as seeing how ultrasound is used to assess arterial blood flood.
Finally, there was the opportunity to see a gamma camera in action and see some of the scans and information that can be obtained and how radioactive substances are used to treat disease.
Patrick Hill, the deputy director of medical physics at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, told learners that the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board covered the whole of North Wales which has a population of more than 700,000 people.
He said: “The health board employs 17,000 staff in many different roles across the region, while medical physics has just 65 employees. Of those 65 around half are involved in radiation for diagnosis and treatment and half in clinical engineering and technology. Within medical physics we do a range of different things bringing together physics, information technology, mathematics and medicine. In effect we need to speak both languages.”
He added: “While we have lots of technologies at our disposal we are constantly looking at how we can do better, what we do well but importantly how to keep people safe. I’m delighted to be able to welcome learners to the department and give them the opportunity to learn and see for themselves the work we do and the career opportunities available within medical physics.”