Amongst the activities in Medical Physics are:
Medical Physicists and Biomedical Engineers are able to bring attitudes of intellectual rigour and quantitative precision to develop innovative technology that can offer improvements throughout the entire healthcare system. When such developments become commercially available, it is through a process known as technology transfer. This process ensures that the advantages of medical devices newly developed within a local environment are propagated throughout the healthcare field, to the benefit of all patients.
These services interface with doctors and nurses to ensure that they can use their equipment with confidence - providing safe and fully functional equipment in the right location at the right time.
When patients come to a hospital for an X-ray or a hearing test, for example, they want to be assured that the equipment is safe and operating correctly. Ensuring this is called quality assurance.
A team of Medical Physicists and/or Biomedical Engineers provides a range of activities such as acceptance inspections for new equipment (e.g. X-ray sets, CT scanners) followed by on-going regular checks on performance factors such as radiation dose and image quality.
Quality assurance is carried out on diagnostic ultrasound machines, especially with regard to image quality and acoustic output. The latter is particularly important for ultrasound machines used to image babies in the womb.
Newly developed medical devices are evaluated, such as patient monitors, sometimes on behalf of commercial companies or governmental agencies.
Medical Physicists play a vital role in hospitals in ensuring that patients and staff are protected against unnecessary exposure to radiation. Ways in which this is done include environmental surveys in departments where X-rays and radioactive materials are used, in monitoring the radiation doses received by patients, who come for radiological examination or treatment, and by staff who work in these departments.
Research & Development is a broad term that describes fundamental studies and development of practical applications carried out by Medical Physicists and Biomedical Engineers often in collaboration with clinical colleagues from a wide range of disciplines based in hospitals, academic institutions and industry. The results of successful research are published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international conferences.
Medical Physicists and Biomedical Engineers are often involved in teaching and training a wide range of other healthcare workers. These include not only physicians but also other professional staff, such as radiographers, speech therapists, technicians and nurses.