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We asked Brian Macken from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:
I would strongly advise you to do the Masters in Science Communication in DCU. It really gives you a feel for the different kinds of media and ways of explaining things. And it's a good place to make contacts, which is also useful.
I would also recommend that you read science books. Not textbooks, good popular science books are just as useful for this kind of work, as it's already been broken down into simpler language for you. And only read the ones that you're interested in - it shouldn't be a chore to read them.
But I would recommend reading outside your subject area, so if you're into physics, then read some books on biology and vice versa (everyone should read Stephen J. Gould). However, the more knowledge you have, the more questions you'll be able to answer.
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Most of these occupations require post-graduate qualifications. For example, they may require a masters degree, and some require a Ph.D., or M.D.
Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialised medical training to be able to do their job.
Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
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These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organisational skills are required. Examples include librarians, lawyers, aerospace engineers, wildlife biologists, school psychologists, surgeons, treasurers, and most scientists.
(thousands per year)*
24 - 97
Graduate Trainee: 24 - 25
Entrant: 35 - 61
Senior medical physicist: 60 - 80
Principal: 72 - 97
Last Updated: March, 2017
|* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.|
Medical physicists apply scientific knowledge, engineering and technological skills to help prevent, diagnose and treat many kinds of disease and health conditions.
Medical Physicists research, develop and test specialist equipment used by medical staff in many areas including radiotherapy, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, laser technology and physiological monitoring.
Many medical physicists are heavily involved with responsibilities in areas of diagnosis and treatment, often with specific patients. These activities take the form of consultations with physician colleagues. Medical physicists play a vital and often leading role on the medical research team.
Their activities cover wide frontiers, including such key areas as cancer, heart disease, and mental illness. In cancer, work would focus primarily on issues involving radiation, such as the basic mechanisms of biological change after irradiation.
Medical physicists are also concerned with research of general medical significance, including the applications of digital computers in medicine and applications of information theory to diagnostic problems; processing, storing and retrieving medical images.
Often medical physicists have faculty appointments at universities and colleges, where they help train future medical physicists, resident physicians, medical students, and technologists who operate the various types of equipment used to perform diagnosis and treatment. They also conduct courses in medical physics and aspects of biophysics and radiobiology for a variety of graduate and undergraduate students.
Their education and training are different from doctors’, but they are heavily involved in assessing and treating illness, and doctors and other healthcare professionals rely on close collaboration with them.
Tasks and Activities
Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications. English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
You must be good at maths and physics. You must also have an interest in biology and a concern for people's health and well-being. You need to enjoy solving problems and have a responsible and mature attitude.
It is important for medical physicists to be able to communicate their findings to other professionals, who do not have a background in physics. You will also need the social skills to work closely with patients and medical staff.
The following key skills are identified:
Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
All new entrants to this field are graduates. Both an undergraduate degree and a postgraduate qualification are required.
An undergraduate degree in an area such as: physical sciences, engineering or computer sciences.
Degrees in Physics and/or medical physics, engineering and computer sciences are available from a range of universities and ITs which will provide a good foundation to progress on further toward becoming a medical physicist.
A postgraduate qualification in medical physics, bioengineering or health informatics.A Ph.D. involving intensive research in the area of medical physics may be necessary to reach a high level position in this field. Relevant course are offered at the universities countrywide.
A background in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is necessary for work in this area.
Last Updated: October, 2014
A detailed description of this occupation can be found on a number of online databases. Follow the link(s) below to access this information:
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|Medical Physicist - from: N.C.S. [UK]|
|Address:||Discover Science & Engineering, Wilton Park House, Wilton Place, Dublin, 2|
|Tel:||(01) 607 3171|
|Organisation:||Institute of Physics in Ireland|
|Address:||Department of Physics, University of Limerick, Limerick|
|Tel:||(061) 202 290/ (01) 708 3953|
|Organisation:||Irish Association of Physicists in Medicine|
|A day in the life of a Medical Physicist|
|This occupation is popular with people who have the following Career Interests... |
...and for people who like working in the following Career Sectors:
|Physical & Mathematical Sciences|
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