Medical Physics is an exciting profession combining physics and medicine.
The Medical Physicist receives specialized academic and internship training in the medical application of radiation physics.
Radiation Medical Physics involves the application of x-rays, gamma-rays, ultrasound, magnetic and electric fields in the diagnosis, management and treatment of patients. Most Medical Physicists work in Diagnostic Imaging Departments and Cancer Treatment Facilities in University Teaching Hospitals, Para-statal Institutions, or the commercial and private sectors. There is a critical shortage of qualified Medical Physicists in Africa.
In South Africa, Medical Physicists register at the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) www.hpcsa.co.za in order to practice. The HPCSA defines the scope of practice, ensures adherence to a professional code of ethics and reassures that the accredited training institutions have programs that comply with a minimum standard of training. The WITS Division of Medical Physics has full HPCSA-accreditation for their academic program, and for their internship program, which is run at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital www.johannesburghospital.org
Medical Physicists are involved primarily in the following areas:
Because of the wide variety of equipment and vendors used in these divisions, a specialist is needed to help with the purchase of new equipment. Because of their technical and clinical expertise, Medical Physicists can assist in writing tender specifications in order to facilitate the purchase of equipment best suited for the Hospital?s needs. After new equipment has been delivered, the Medical Physicist is responsible for the commissioning and doing acceptance tests to ensure that the equipment purchased complies with clinical and technical performance specifications. These acceptance tests are also important to use as a reference value for all future quality assurance.
Knowledge about radiation is essential. The Medical Physicists give continuous training and education to ensure that all hospital personnel involved with radiation have a fundamental understanding of it.