It’s tough to know where to start when describing medical physics – it’s a wide-ranging subject that covers everything from health and safety to diagnostic imaging, physiological measurement, and even cancer treatment. The broad scope means that it’s difficult to concisely describe the role of a medical physicist, but I’ll do my best!
Clinical Engineering is effectively all engineering in healthcare. It is very broad and has 4 sub-specialisms which you can train in as part of the STP.
If you’re interested in managing medical devices in a hospital…
As an STP trainee, I work in the genetics laboratory, where we carry out tests on patient’s genetic material to try and diagnose genetic disease. This can involve looking down the microscope at peoples’ chromosomes (cytogenetics) or testing DNA for mutations (molecular genetics). Molecular and Cytogenetics are becoming more and more intertwined, so as an STP in genetics/genomics you train in both. This can be quite a challenge as in many departments they are still very much separate, so you’ll have to manage your time well between the two! Clinical scientists in genetics are more like analysts, we don’t see patients face-to-face and hardly spend any time in the lab- our main role is to interpret the results that come out of the lab and write reports to the doctors and genetic counsellors, who then give the result to the patient.
Furthering knowledge and improving the health service through the commissioning and development of hardware, software, and algorithms that process clinical, biomedical and associated business data.
It is difficult to imagine modern healthcare without the many medical devices, diagnostic machines and clinical ICT systems that are deeply embedded within it. From an MRI machine that generates diagnostic images to a clinical information system that stores ICU measurements; these complex pieces of engineering and technology are vital to ensuring healthcare data can be robustly captured and patient information sent to those who need it. Who ensures that this technology is appropriate and that data from it is used in the best way possible? If you’re from a physical sciences background and want to use technology to improve healthcare, then it could be you!
Emily Plimmer, 1st year Clinical Pharmaceutical Science trainee in Staffordshire talks about her role.
Clinical Pharmaceutical Science (CPS) is one of those specialisms that always seem to make trainees in other areas pull a confused face – they’ve often never even heard of us! Yet the work we do is absolutely vital for patients. In simple terms, we make medicines. However, that really doesn’t do it justice; we are involved in not only making medicines, but ensuring standards of safety, efficacy and quality are met for all patients, and that is no mean feat!
Genetic counsellors see individuals and families to discuss genetic conditions that are present, or are thought to be present, in their family. Information about an individual’s personal medical history and their family history is taken into account when determining the likelihood of a genetic condition running in a family.
We’ve all met new people where the first question is, “So what do you do?”. When I reply, I usually get a blank face in response. How do you explain it in plain words? I usually say we are the people in between biology and computer science and it does the trick. Otherwise, you have to explain what is DNA, what is DNA sequencing, what is a mutation, things that are “coded” in us. What is the usual jargon to us might be someone else’s rocket science.