From MRI scans to nuclear medicine: local pupils get behind-the-scenes look at medical physics

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From MRI scanning and radiotherapy to medical engineering and nuclear medicine, modern healthcare needs more than just doctors and nurses. Around 30 Year 12 students from schools in the surrounding area were able to learn about some of these careers – and try out some of the technology - during a Medical Physics visit to Swansea University.

The pupils were from four schools: Ystalyfera, Bishop Vaughan, St. Joseph’s Port Talbot, and Morriston.   During their visit they learned about different areas of medical physics, getting hands-on demonstrations from clinical scientists and other hospital staff from Singleton Hospital, which is right next to the University campus.

The visit was organised by the South West Wales Reaching Wider Partnership, based at Swansea University, which works with colleges and other partners to help widen access into higher education.  The team worked closely with Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board.

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Picture:  students with a CT scanner machine

Khudeza Siddika, More Able and Talented Co-ordinator at Bishop Vaughan Catholic School, said:

"The Medical Physics day is a fantastic opportunity for our students.  Many of our students are keen to work in the health profession but assume that being a doctor or a nurse are the only options available.

It provides valuable careers information to our students, both by showing the range of jobs available in the health sector, as well as offering a behind the scenes look at what those jobs entail.   This experience is hugely important to our students as it allows them to access career-specific information from specialists and start making informed choices about their future." 

Artjoms Smakovs, Trainee Clinical Scientist in Radiotherapy Physics at Singleton Hospital, described what the pupils saw:

"Our team was really excited to be able to provide access to the Radiotherapy department where we work and to explain how radiation is used to destroy tumours and treat cancer.

In other workshops, providers showed how diseases are diagnosed in Nuclear Medicine. MRI physicists talked about the bright future of MR imaging. Clinical Engineers explained how modern medical devices are used for diagnosing, aiding or treating patients. Rehabilitation engineers showed how technology helps people with disabilities. I believe that an event like this can inspire future generations of engineers and scientists to consider a career in healthcare."

Ruth Harding, a Clinical Scientist from the same team, added:

"It is a great opportunity to inspire local students to consider careers in the medical field they may not be aware of. I have found Medical Physics to be a very rewarding career and vocation and I want to share my enthusiasm for this job."

Rebecca Griffiths, Senior Programme Development Officer from the Reaching Wider Partnership, said:

"Students get the opportunity in talk directly to health professionals based at both Singleton and Morriston Hospital and they get to see facilities which are not normally open to the general public.

It’s been brilliant to see over 30 pupils on the visit today from four different schools in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot. We hope we’ve helped to inspire the next generation of health professionals."

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Picture:  students test out how to take a temperature

The South West Wales Reaching Wider Partnership

Reaching Wider is a programme aiming to widen access into higher education across the whole student age range through learning and aspiration-raising activities. 

Funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the South West Wales Reaching Wider partnership includes Swansea University; University of Wales Trinity Saint David; Coleg Sir Gâr; Gower College Swansea; Neath Port Talbot College Group; Pembrokeshire College; Careers Wales; The Open University in Wales, and schools across participating unitary authorities.

The programme aims to extend educational participation to previously excluded and under-represented groups of people in south west Wales.