In Summary - Medical Physicist
Medical Physicists typically work in the following Career Sectors:
Videos on the Web
- Medical Physicist- from: Youtube Search
- Graduate Medic - from: icould [UK] Video
- Medical Physicist - from: N.C.S. [UK]
The Work - Medical Physicist
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
- Developing and testing new systems to help investigate patients' conditions, for example; Imaging techniques – to track how organs are functioning and to aid image-guided surgery Radiation and radio therapies – calculating dosages for beams and radioactive implants used in the treatment of cancers Electronics – designing instruments which take measurements or support damaged organs Laser technology – to reduce the need for invasive surgery, for example breaking up kidney stones or treating eye disorders.
- Monitoring equipment (like x-rays and ultrasound) to make sure it is accurate, safe and well-maintained
- Training hospital staff in the use of new equipment and complex procedures
- Planning treatment programmes and explaining procedures to patients • Carrying out certain procedures and analysing test results
- Research and Development work including using computer simulations and mathematical modelling in research and development work.
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.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Perform complex calculations as part of the analysis and evaluation of data, using computers.
- Describe and express observations and conclusions in mathematical terms.
- Analyze data from research conducted to detect and measure physical phenomena.
- Report experimental results by writing papers for scientific journals or by presenting information at scientific conferences.
- Design computer simulations to model physical data so that it can be better understood.
- Collaborate with other scientists in the design, development, and testing of experimental, industrial, or medical equipment, instrumentation, and procedures.
- Direct testing and monitoring of contamination of radioactive equipment, and recording of personnel and plant area radiation exposure data.
- Observe the structure and properties of matter, and the transformation and propagation of energy, using equipment such as masers, lasers, and telescopes to explore and identify the basic principles governing these phenomena.
- Develop theories and laws on the basis of observation and experiments, and apply these theories and laws to problems in areas such as nuclear energy, optics, and aerospace technology.
- Teach physics to students.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
Interests - Medical Physicist
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Creative people are drawn to careers and activities that enable them to take responsibility for the design, layout or sensory impact of something (visual, auditory etc). They may be atrracted to the traditional artistic pursuits such as painting, sculpture, singing, or music. Or they may show more interest in design activities, such as architecture, animation, or craft areas, such as pottery and ceramics.
Creative people use their personal understanding of people and the world they live in to guide their work. Creative people like to work in unstructured workplaces, enjoy taking risks and prefer a minimum of routine.
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.
Entry Requirements - Medical Physicist
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
Pay & Salary - Medical Physicist
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 24k - 97k
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.
Labour Market Updates - Medical Physicist
While the supply of graduates appears to be sufficient to meet the annual recruitment requirement (5,500 graduates in 2017), the demand is arising for roles for those with a high level of experience and/or in niche areas. The demand is for a small number of people given the relatively small size of this occupation (approx. 1% of total employment) and in the areas associated with pharmaceuticals, biopharma and food development.
National Skills Bulletin 2018