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Career Areas within Clinical Engineering and Medical Physics

Biomedical engineering

Healthcare science staff in this area are involved in designing artificial body parts such as hip and knee joints, and in measuring walking characteristics to improve the function of artificial limbs and surgical corrections of deformities. Modern techniques such as keyhole and robotic surgery have been achieved with the support of biomechanical engineering.

Clinical measurement

In this field, leading-edge electronic and other techniques are pushing forward medical practice. Healthcare science staff work with clinicians in some of the most highly specialised branches of medicine, e.g. heart surgery and intensive care, to develop innovative techniques for diagnosing and treating disease, and quantifying physiological function.

Diagnostic radiology and MRI

Diagnostic imaging continues to be one of the most rapidly expanding areas in the NHS. Staff monitor and optimise the performance of imaging equipment and give advice on the specification and acceptance of new equipment. They develop and assess new techniques to ensure the best images are obtained with minimum exposure to radiation, and to extract additional functional information from 3-D and 4-D medical images.

Medical equipment management

Healthcare science staff working in this field ensure medical equipment is specified, procured, installed, used and maintained correctly and safely. This may involve managing substantial budgets for capital equipment replacement and maintenance, as well as the accurate configuration and calibration of safety critical medical equipment.

Maxillofacial prosthetics and reconstruction

Healthcare science staff in this area, specialise in the reconstruction of jaws, faces and skulls of patients needing corrective treatment due to malformation, cancer or trauma.

Medical electronics and instrumentation

Using state-of-the-art electronic and computing techniques, healthcare science staff design, develop, build and adapt specialised medical equipment. Examples include new life support and monitoring systems in intensive care, special baby care units, and equipment for improved surgical and anaesthetic techniques.

Medical illustration and clinical photography

Photography, video, illustration and graphic design services to support patient care, teaching and research. Images are used to assist in patient diagnosis and treatment, as well as the design and production of patient information and other medical publications.

Nuclear medicine

The use of radioactive substances for diagnosis and therapy. Healthcare science staff may be engaged in manufacturing and administering radiolabelled pharmaceuticals to patients and then obtaining images and making measurements. They ensure that radioactive materials are purchased, used and disposed of safely and are involved in interpreting results and developing new procedures for both diagnosis and therapy.

Radiation protection and monitoring

Radiation protection practitioners play an essential role in the safe medical use of many different types of radiation, including X-rays, radioisotopes, lasers and ultraviolet radiation. They measure and calculate doses received by patients and staff, survey the working environment, and monitor equipment performance to ensure compliance with stringent regulations. They will often act as Radiation Protection Advisers to major NHS institutions, setting policy and implementing quality standards for the use of radiation.

Radiopharmacy

The manufacture and supply of radioactive medicinal products for use in nuclear medicine to support diagnosis and treatment.

Radiotherapy physics

The treatment of cancer with ionising radiation such as X-rays, electrons and protons. Healthcare science staff maintain the precision and accuracy of treatments by using advanced computer calculations of individual patient treatment plans. They also ensure that equipment is calibrated accurately and used safely. They develop new techniques to improve the effectiveness of radiotherapy treatments.

Rehabilitation engineering

Healthcare science staff work as part of the rehabilitation team to assess and respond to the individual needs of disabled people. They provide standard and custom-made assistive technology to help with communication and daily living, including special seating, wheelchairs, artificial limbs, electronic communicators and robotic aids.

Renal science and technology

Healthcare science staff are responsible for ensuring renal dialysis equipment is maintained, and that it works safely and efficiently. They work in hospitals and patients' homes, and train staff and patients in equipment use.