Year 12 students see how physics saves lives

19 April 2012

A GROUP of thirty five Year 12 students from schools and colleges in South West Wales is attending a residential course on the application of science, technology, engineering and maths in medicine at Swansea University today, Thursday 19, and, tomorrow, Friday 20 April.

Brain scan

The students are getting a taste of university life and hands-on experience, as well as access to medical equipment that their schools and colleges are not able to provide, in order to show them the potential of the subjects they are studying in a university and work setting.

Discussion of wavelengths, the electromagnetic spectrum, pulses and radiation in a physics classroom seems very far-removed from the daily life of a medical practitioner saving lives in your local hospital.

That however couldn’t be further from the truth. Physics underpins the technology used every day in hospitals to detect life-threatening diseases and to treat them.

On Friday, 20 April, the students are being joined by other pupils from south Wales to visit Singleton hospital and the Institute of Life Science at Swansea University to see how radiotherapy, nuclear medicine, X-rays, MRI and a range of other physics-based techniques are used in hospitals.

Reaching Wider South West Wales Partnership, an initiative funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), has organised the residential course in partnership with Swansea University, the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry and Careers Wales.

Professor Huw Griffiths, Director of Medical Physics & Clinical Engineering, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, said, "“This is a very important event that will help to encourage the next generation of NHS scientists. Even though many students might eventually choose not to enter a career in healthcare science, events like these help to raise public awareness of the vital role of scientists in modern medicine."

Angharad Thomas from the Institute of Physics in Wales, said, “The aims of the day are to enhance the A-level physics curriculum and to demonstrate what medical physics and clinical engineering are, and the range of careers available in the field.  We want to show students that studying STEM subjects at A-level opens doors to careers in a wide-range of fields.”

Del Thomas from Careers Wales added, “We believe it is important to demonstrate the diversity of career opportunities available to learners who intend to pursue higher level qualifications in physics.”

Heather Pudner, Reaching Wider South West Wales Partnership Manager, said, “We are delighted to be involved in developing an opportunity to open doors to a wide range of medical careers in the South Wales region. Collaboration is ensuring that a full range of exciting scientific developments are laid bare to A level science students from local schools and colleges.”

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