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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering

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Clinical scientist training

A placement in radiotherapy physics makes up one of the three placements required during the IPEM Part I training in clinical science.

Pre-registration training overview

Minimum entry requirement

  • Undergraduate Physics degree 2:2

    Part 1 training: fixed term contract
    - One year MSc
    - One year placement

    Part 2 pre-registration: permanent contract
    - Pre-registration period: minimum two years

  • IPEM accredited MSc

    Part 1 training: fixed term contract
    - 16 month placement

    Part 2 pre-registration: permanent contract
    - Pre-registration period: minimum two year

There are various competencies to be met whilst on placement, which come under the following headings:

Dosimetry and quality control

Learning how the machines such as linear accelerators (linacs) work and how to operate them, as well as how to perform routine measurements to ensure they are functioning correctly.

Treatment planning

The understanding of the 'path' of a treatment from diagnosis to delivery, and being able to use the software to generate acceptable plans that could be used on the linacs for certain types of treatment.

Brachytherapy

The centre has a pulsed dose rate (PDR) afterloader, so this involves understanding both the treatment delivery and how to check the machine is functioning.

Quality assurance and safety

Working with radiation has inherent risks, so there is a need to learn general safe practice, as well as understand the laws that govern this area and how to put them into practice.

This is all assessed in an ongoing manner, but a portfolio of evidence (of 60-80 pages) must also be submitted, which is examined by viva at the end of the Part I training.

Although there is a definite need to provide evidence of what you did, an understanding of the physics behind what you are doing is essential as well. This is reflected in the need for a good honours degree in physics to get on the scheme, as well as completing an IPEM accredited Master's degree in medical physics during training (unless you already possess one). At Oxford, this can be done full-time at Birmingham or part-time at UCL. The former means all three placements must be completed within about year whilst the latter means you get around 18 months and attend UCL once a week on a day-release basis.

The scheme generally is very enjoyable; a good mix of practical work and theoretical understanding, and undertaking it in the brand new facilities in Oxford is a definite plus.

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