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Clare Devery - Trainee Clinical Scientist - NHS Tayside

From Dublin to Aberdeen

After completing my degree, my next move was to Aberdeen, to study for an MSc in medical physics. This forms the first year of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) clinical scientist training scheme. IPEM is the professional organisation for physicists, clinical and biomedical engineers and technologists working in medicine in the UK. In Scotland the main way of achieving state registration as a clinical scientist is to complete the IPEM training scheme, which was made possible for me and all the other trainees through funding from NES.

Part I of the scheme involves graduating with the MSc degree in medical physics and a year’s hospital based training, broken into three separate placements in different areas. The masters itself was a great experience. The subjects we studied were both specifically tailored to cover the essentials for beginning a career in medical physics and refreshingly modern – a good reflection of how physics plays a role in current day medicine. The knowledge gained was a great base and I find myself referring back to my masters notes to help on the job all the time.

The year of hospital based training was certainly the best of my experience so far. I undertook placements in radiation protection, MRI and nuclear medicine. During my time with each group I got involved in ongoing projects and gained hands on experience by joining in the day-to-day tasks of a physicist. I found it particularly rewarding to see all the theory I’d spent years learning in university finally become relevant on a practical level.

Specialist placement as part of higher training

Having just completed my Part I, I am now moving on to begin my Part II which is a specialist placement in one area, lasting approximately two years. By the end of the two years I should have gained sufficient training to go and apply for state registration as a Clinical Scientist. I have chosen the field of MRI to specialise in - I guess it was the big magnet that attracted me.

I feel extremely lucky to have happened upon the relatively unknown field of medical physics. The training I am currently undertaking is well structured, thorough and rewarding. I feel that when I come to the end of the programme, I will be both competent and confident in my role as a clinical scientist. There is plenty of support available and my colleagues in Tayside have been generous with their knowledge and time in helping me complete my Part I.  I am now looking forward to getting stuck into the MRI world.

The thing I love most about my job is the dynamic environment a clinical setting provides. There are many people from various academic backgrounds approaching problems from different angles (doctors, radiographers, physicists etc), creating a unique environment filled with angled ideas and exciting plans for the future. As a scientist this is exactly the type of environment that promotes creativity and provides the opportunity to get involved and put physics into practice!