Clinical or medical technologist in medical physics

Healthcare increasingly uses sophisticated equipment and instruments to diagnose illness and to treat patients.

Healthcare scientists working medical or clinical engineering are responsible for maintaining and servicing complex, specialised equipment used in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

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Overview

As a healthcare scientist working in medical physics or clinical engineering, you’ll usually be known as a clinical or medical technologist.

Hospitals use an increasingly wide range of cutting-edge technology in various areas, such as radiotherapy, bioengineering and laser procedures. There is an increasing demand for people with the correct medical physics knowledge to service, check the performance of, and gauge any environmental effects of this equipment.

As a clinical or medical technologist, you will often liaise with scientists and doctors, and have direct contact with patients.

Working life

You are likely to specialise in one of two areas:

Some of the specific roles you could work in as a medical technologist include:

Critical care technologist - providing operational and technical support to general and specialist intensive care or high dependency units, especially with equipment to maintain circulation, respiration and renal support function. You’ll often operate as part of a multidisciplinary clinical team. Read more about critical care science.

Medical physics technologist - assisting clinical and scientific staff in the construction of medical devices - this can involve mechanical, electronic and computing design procedures. You may also carry out calibration and quality assurance tests of x-ray and other electro-medical equipment.

Nuclear medicine technologist - using radioactive pharmaceuticals in diagnosis and therapy. You would administer radioactive agents, and image their distribution using gamma cameras. You’d also perform laboratory tests and administer routine therapeutic doses of radioactive iodine and monitor the safe handling of radioactive materials. Read more about healthcare scientists working in nuclear medicine.

Radiotherapy technologist - performing quality control on radiotherapy dosimetry equipment and treatment units, such as linear accelerators and brachytherapy equipment, and computing radiation treatment plans. You may also maintain and service radiation therapy equipment and construct patient fixation devices. Read more about radiation safety physics.

Rehabilitation engineer - working with the rehabilitation team to provide bio-mechanical assessment, monitoring of patient recovery and the custom manufacture of aids such as wheelchairs and speech synthesisers for individual patients. Read more about rehabilitation engineering.

Renal dialysis technologist - responsible for the safe and efficient working of renal dialysis equipment (haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and water treatment) both in hospital and at the patient’s home. The training for these positions is on the job and you’d usually need a background in electronics. Read more about renal technology.

Technologist in equipment management - maintaining and servicing electro-medical equipment, ensuring both performance and safety. While the more sophisticated equipment is installed in acute hospitals, you’d also support equipment in primary care. Read more about medical device risk management and governance.

Vascular technologist - performing and interpreting non-invasive diagnostic studies on patients with arterial and venous disease. These studies include ultrasound imaging and blood-flow waveform analysis, and blood pressure measurement at rest and after exercise. You’d also carry out vascular measurement during surgery. Read more about vascular science.

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