Why did you decide you wanted to be a Medical Physicist?
To be honest, I never thought of becoming a physicist. But when I was selecting a suitable course for my tertiary education, my friend told me about the field of medical physics. I did some research and there was a voice in my heart telling me that this is an interesting and cool field. Looking back, I am glad I followed the little voice in my heart.
What is your role as a Medical Physicist?
A medical physicist plays a multidisciplinary role depending on which department they are in, but primarily, they are radiation safety officers who ensure the safe use of radiation in the department. In radiotherapy, the medical physicist plan the radiation treatment for patients, maintain quality assurance of treatment plan and perform scheduled quality assurance check for the radiotherapy facility.
What is your typical day like?
The role of a physicist in the private sector is totally different from the role of a physicist in the public sector. A typical day of a physicist in the private sector can be divided into two parts. During clinical hours, a physicist plans radiation treatment which includes performing image fusion, organ-at-risk contouring, computer planning, radiation treatment plan processing and verification. After clinical hours, the physicist performs quality assurance checks for the patient’s treatment plan, machine, and dosimetry.
What do you think are the most important traits a Physicist need to have?
Meticulousness is the most important trait of a physicist. Radiotherapy is a complex field because each component is important in the production of quality radiation treatment. A physicist needs to work through the entire process to identify problems, solve problems, and verify the solutions.
What is one thing you learned from working as a Physicist?
As a physicist, we translate the theoretical knowledge of physics into a practical application of physics in a clinical setting. And we must be able to discern the right thing to do at the right time. For example, we know that while ionising radiation can be beneficial, it can also be damaging. So we must ensure that we give the accurate dose for radiotherapy and ensure that the machine is performing well so that we can optimise the results for our patients.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
One of the most rewarding part of my job is to know that I played a role in helping the patients recover well. As a medical physicist, my responsibilities are to ensure that the patient’s radiation treatment plan is of the highest standard, and also to test and calibrate our machines daily to maintain optimal performance for radiation delivery. Seeing patients recover well brings a smile to my face.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is adapting to the rapid changes and advancement of radiation technology. These changes require us to continuously learn new skills and knowledge, develop new clinical technique and integrate them into the clinical workflow.
Tell us about one incident as a Physicist that left a deep impression on you
There were many incidents that left a deep impression on me as physicist. Each and every incident made me a better physicist and a better person. I am grateful and appreciate all the experiences I gained along my career. I recall one of my unforgettable experiences as physicist in my former workplace. There was a part replacement for the linear accelerator (radiotherapy treatment unit) over the weekend. The project started on Saturday late morning after patients finished their treatment. The complexity of the machine took more time than expected for engineers to clear all errors when changing the parts. Engineers handed over the machine to physicists for quality assurance check on Sunday afternoon. We spent about 14 hours to perform quality assurance check in order to get the machine ready for service for patient treatment on Monday by 8am. I remembered that I went home at 5 am and then back to work at 9 am. All members of the physics team returned back to the clinic for a full day of work that Monday.
What do you like to do most when you have time away from your job?
All kinds of me-time to destress. I enjoy reading most of the time and recently started practicing yoga. The slight pain after stretching makes me feel great and satisfying.
What makes AARO a special place to work in?
A place where you can rapidly develop both soft skills and technical skills.