Since the turn of the 20th century, radiation has been a part of medicine. The medical applications of x-rays and radioactivity have given rise to the discipline of Medical Physics. Its primary focus is physics as applied to radiation therapy, medical imaging, radiation biology and radiation protection.
Medical Physics is one of the fastest growing areas of employment for physicists. They play crucial roles in radiology, nuclear medicine and radiation oncology. These fields use very sophisticated and expensive equipment, and physicists are responsible for much of its design, testing and quality assurance. Medical Physicists can be found in universities doing basic research into topics such as how radiation affects tissues; in industry, using these results to build new imaging and therapy systems; and finally in hospitals, maintaining equipment and planning radiation treatments.
At the moment, around 80% of Medical Physicists are working in radiation oncology sectors, while around 20% are involved in diagnostic imaging and nuclear medicine.
Radiation Oncology Medical Physics
Radiation oncology is a branch of medicine that uses various types of radiation to treat cancer. Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists (ROMPs) have an important role in the radiation oncology team. The primary role of the ROMP is to ensure that patients receive the dose prescribed by the oncologist while also ensuring a safe working environment for staff and members of the public. They are also responsible for selecting and specifying the types of equipment that are used in radiation therapy and implementing new treatment techniques. ROMPs may also be involved in research and development and teaching activities.
Watch this video to learn more about the role of medical physicists in radiation oncology.
Diagnostic Imaging Medical Physics
Images of the human body can be formed from the interaction of energy with human tissue. The energy can be in the form of electromagnetic radiation, or acoustic energy. Diagnostic Imaging Medical Physicists (DIMPs) are involved with commissioning and routine periodical Quality Assurance of imaging facilities and relevant developments. DIMPs are employed in diagnostic imaging and Nuclear medicine departments.