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Work Shadowing (Medical Physics Department/Biophotonics Research Unit)
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I am currently in the third year of my PhD and so I have started thinking more intensively about my post-PhD career. Becoming a medical physicist is a potential career path for me and the sub-modality of diagnosis and radiation protection is the one I find most interesting. I, therefore, decided to visit a Medical Physics department (and more specifically the diagnosis and radiation protection group) and the associated with them research unit in order to gain insight into various aspects of working and undertaking research in the NHS and thus appreciate better if I would be interested in undertaking such a role.

How did you find your placement/internship?

Opportunity: I approached Dr Catherine Kendall (consultant medical physicist and head of biophotonics research unit at the Gloucester Royal Hopsital) and asked if I could shadow her for a week in order to explore both the clinical and research aspects of her work. Funding: This opportunity was funded by the PREP scheme. I found out about the PREP scheme from university emails about funding opportunities and their website.

Main responsibilities

Being at the medical physics department (Gloucester or Cheltenham site depending on the day and work undertaken) or at the research biophotonics unit from 9.00 to 5.00. Working with Dr. Kendall at any given task. Engaging with members of the diagnostics and radiation protection and/or biophotonics research groups for specific tasks and networking.

Typical day

This placement was for a week and all 5 days I was at the hospital from 9.00am until about 5.30pm. The first three and a half days I was based at the Medical Physics department and was working within the Diagnostic Radiology and Radiation Protection Group. Example of the tasks I was involved in during these days include: quality controls of diagnostic equipment (CT scanners) and subsequent report completion, attendance of radiology clinical governance meetings, evaluation and update of radiation protection risk assessment forms, creation of resources (posters in this instance) that inform the public about the different types of examinations (CT scan, MRI scan etc.) diagnostic radiology offers and the benefits and risks they involve. The rest of the days I was placed at the Biophotonics research unit and was working within the research team. There I familiarized myself with using a Raman microscope. I also got an insight on the research projects they undertake.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

I really enjoyed working within the Medical Physics Department and gaining hands on experience on the daily tasks undertaken by physicists working in diagnostics and radiation protection area. The collaboration with Dr Kendall went particularly well. She showed me various aspects of her work and involved me in all the meetings and tasks she was undertaking. Moreover, I got the chance to talk and work with other medical physicists from the department on specific tasks and thus gained a better insight of different tasks and responsibilities they have.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

Yes, it definitely did. During the placement I gained a much better understanding of the everyday work undertaken by medical physicists alongside with the responsibilities, the opportunities and the challenges that this profession entails. I also understood much better how research is conducted at the clinical setting and its benefits and difficulties. After this experience I believe that I can make a much more informed decision on whether this would be an interesting career path for me.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

What I understood from this placement is that it is much easier to understand if you are interested in a career path/job after you have experienced it for a while and discussed about it with people from the field so I would definitely recommend undertaking a similar experience (work shadowing, placement etc). The everyday tasks and responsibilities of a role can be quite different from what you have in mind and experiencing the work environment even for a few days can also be very enlightening on understanding if you are interested in a job.

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Form completed: 08 Aug 2019

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