Medical physicists are specialists in healthcare science, also known as clinical science.
1. Entry requirements
- an honours degree (2:1 or above) in physics
- paid or unpaid experience in a hospital medical physics or engineering department
- to have completed the 3-year NHS Healthcare Scientist Training Programme (STP)
If you don’t have a degree level qualification, you can apply for the NHS Practitioner Training Programme (PTP).
This consists of an undergraduate degree course like healthcare science, and work based training. To get onto the PTP you’ll need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including English language, maths and a science subject
- at least 2 A levels including maths or a science
- Health Careers and The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) have more information on becoming a medical physicist.
2. Skills required
- high levels of accuracy and attention to detail
- the ability to concentrate for long periods
- the confidence to take responsibility for decisions
- an enquiring mind and good problem solving skills
3. What you'll do
- developing and testing new systems to help investigate patients' conditions
- monitoring equipment to make sure it’s accurate, safe and well-maintained
- training hospital staff
- planning treatment programmes and explaining procedures to patients
- carrying out procedures and analysing test results
- using computer simulations and mathematical modelling in research and development work
You’ll develop new technology for diagnosis and treatment, covering areas like:
- imaging techniques – to track organ functioning and aid image-guided surgery
- radiation and radio therapies – calculating dosages for the treatment of cancers
- electronics – designing instruments to measure or support damaged organs
- laser technology – to reduce the need for invasive surgery, like breaking up kidney stones or treating eye disorders
You’ll work closely with medical professionals like doctors, radiographers and medical physics technicians.
Experienced: £31,250 to £82,500
Highly Experienced: Up to £99,500 (consultant)
Salaries in the private sector can be higher than NHS.
These figures are a guide.
5. Working hours, patterns and environmentYou’ll usually work around 37.5 hours a week.
You may have to work evenings or weekends as part of an on-call rota.
You’ll be based in a hospital, clinic or laboratory setting, and may need to travel to other hospitals to meet with other scientists.
You’ll wear protective clothing when working with hazardous substances and radiation.
6. Career path and progressionYou could go on to lead a department, work in higher education, research, or in the medical equipment manufacturing industry.
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Last updated: 18 August 2017