For the National School of Healthcare Science
I wrote this to summarise my area of specialty at work, to aid the NSHCS in reviewing their training curriculum. I hope it is a good reflection of what I do, as well including the activities of others in my field.
Imaging with ionising radiation (IIR) uses high-energy X-rays and gamma rays to produce pictures of the internal structure and function of the human body. Because this radiation can travel all the way through the body, it can be detected from the outside to form images – in the same way that a camera detects visible light radiation to form photographs.
In radiology, X-rays are projected straight through the body to visualise anatomy. In nuclear medicine, bodily functions are studied by imaging the ways in which a small amount of radioactive tracer moves around the body. These images are used by doctors to diagnose and monitor patients, and inform decisions about treatment.
Though this is highly beneficial, ionising radiation can also damage cells and increase the risk of further complications including cancer. Healthcare Scientists in IIR work to make sure it is used optimally, ensuring that the best, most clinically useful images are produced with the smallest possible amount of radiation. They work to keep people safe; managing and testing equipment, training clinical staff and advising others in line with relevant safety legislation.
Typical work may include:
– Testing equipment regularly to make sure it is safe
– Developing new imaging protocols to improve visualisation/reduce radiation
– Developing image processing techniques
– Training clinical staff in radiation safety
– Procuring and commissioning new equipment
– Advising patients about radiation risks and benefits
– Researching new techniques and ideas
– Working to support radiographers, technologists and radiologists
Some IIR Healthcare Scientists will also become involved in reporting and interpreting clinical images, or teaching medical physics.