Starting a career in medical physics – Sasha’s path to healthcare

Medical Physics

Sasha tells us all about her training in the exciting world of Medical Physics.

“I knew when I was in sixth form that I wanted to work in healthcare – but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to be a doctor. Medical Physics (working with the sophisticated machinery which does everything from producing images from inside the body, to delivering radiation to help kill cancer cells) seemed like the perfect mix of medicine, maths and physics, which were my main areas of interest.

I studied Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Human Biology at A level (sucker for punishment) and after doing a week’s work experience at King’s aged 18 in the Medical Physics department, I decided this was the area for me, and took a Medical Physics degree at UCL.

Then I decided I wanted to get on the 3 years NHS Scientist Training Programme. It’s for science and engineering graduates who want to work in a healthcare science role. As well as medical physics, there are all sorts of other specialities you can work on – from biomedical engineering to genetics, from bioinformatics to critical care science.

It’s competitive to get in – so I was really proud to get a place on the scheme – which allows me to work towards an MSc in Medical Physics at King’s College.

The first 3 months consist of lectures – to get everyone up to the same level. Then it’s onto hands on work, with four rotations of four months each in Radiotherapy, Radiation safety, Imaging with ionizing radiation (nuclear medicine) and imaging with non-ionising radiation (ultrasounds, MRI scanners and so on.)

Once you’ve passed the assessments in these 4 areas, you can move on to a placement in an area of your choice.

One of the great things about doing the Training Programme whilst working at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals, is that you can get involved in working on trials for new treatment methods.

Whilst I’ve been here we’ve been helping with a trial started in Australia, to use P32 isotopes to help destroy early stage pancreatic tumours. We’ve also been using an innovative imaging technique called CLI (Cerencov Luminesence Imaging) in conjunction with Fluorine 18 radioisotopes, to improve breast cancer surgery. The technique allows surgeons to identify precisely where the cancerous tissue begins and ends, so they can save healthy tissue.”

If you’re interested in Medical Physics, you can also hear Marium’s, Michaella’s, and Victoria’s stories in our profile videos.