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Embedding Industry

into the Curriculum:

Medical Physics

The York WRIPA Team has been working with Medical Physics Module co-ordinator Dr Mikhail Bashkanov in the School for Physics Engineering and Technology (PET) at the University of York to embed industry and employability into the curriculum. A record number of York physicists taking this module have secured places on the NHS Scientist Training Programme

WRIPA embedded alumni into the module from across 5 different hospitals. The alumni talk about their journey on the NHS Scientist Training Programme, what they studied, why they took this path and where it has taken them. The alumni also talk to the students about the latest technologies in the medical arena.  “I found the guest lecturers really interesting as it was a great opportunity to hear from experts in the field.” Caitlin Brentnall Scientist Training Programme.

“Working with the WRIPA Team and their industry and alumni contacts has been invaluable in developing the links to enable these industry focussed elements of the module, helping students to translate rather abstract knowledge into employable skills.”  Dr Mikhail Bashkanov Medical Physics Module co-ordinator

This year, a record number of 10 physics students from the School of PET applied for the Scientist Training Programme (STP) and 6, who had an average medical physics module mark of 77%, have been successful! It is extremely challenging to secure a place on the STP which is is a three-year programme of work-based learning, supported by a university accredited master’s degree.

For the academic year 2023/24 the medical physics module will give students direct access to industry experience and employability information through the re-designed structure of the module. This includes:

  • Visits to MRI/PET, medical isotopes production, accelerator cancer treatment and other medical facilities
  • Real examples of Geant4 simulations
  • Industry lead ‘everyday’ medical physics
  • Course content delivered by GPs

Embedding alumni in the curriculum and industry experience such as the opportunities provided in this module are not only a great way to see if this type of industry is something students want to pursue but also provides great experience and skills development to showcase in recruitment application processes. Importantly, embedded industry in this way gives all students access to this learning experience as part of their studies. “Seeing the application of the physics I’d spent the previous two years learning in a medical context helped me to understand how I could use my skills in a career outside of academia.” Caitlin Brentnall

“We are looking forward to working with other Physics module leads to embed industry and employability elements directly into their module content to widen the opportunity for physics students to understand how their learning is applied in the workplace” Beth Medley WRIPA Student and Business Relationship Manager

James Bowler has been accepted on the Clinical Scientific Computing Scientist Training Programme. This follows his role directly after graduation at a company called Gamma, where he worked as a software engineer and as a business analyst in the telecommunications industry. James shares his experience of the medical physics module:
“This module significantly deepened my interest in medical physics and illuminated it as an incredibly appealing career path. Learning how all the physics I had learnt in the previous 2 years can be applied to improve and save lives was nothing short of amazing!

The module provided me with a core foundation of medical physics knowledge, which played a pivotal role in creating a competitive application and excelling in the interview process. It covered such a great variety of topics such as ultrasound scans, PET scans and ion beam therapy. I would not have been sufficiently prepared for the tough application process if I hadn’t have taken the module.

The Geant4 simulations were by far the most interesting and useful thing that I did in the module. We had to do a project that investigated a variety of different beam treatments, and it was fascinating to see the contrast between the different treatment options.”

Sarah Dignam has been accepted on the Scientist Training Programme and shares her experience of the medical physics module:

“Having already had an interest in Medical Physics before the third year module, the module allowed me to gain a better understanding of the specialisations of Medical Physics within the STP.
The module helped give me a much better general understanding of medical physics which allowed me to elaborate beyond the standard when answering interview questions. It also gave me the knowledge I needed to make my application essay stand out. 
The GEANT project provided the opportunity to learn vital skills in modelling which is used throughout the STP. Also the guest lectures helped give a more detailed picture about what it’s really like to work in health care.”