Roles in the NHS in Scotland

At a recent “Working in the NHS” event, two speakers gave a flavour of their roles. The Medical Physicist role demands a background in physics and a physics degree is a very relevant background for the Information Analyst role .

Michelle Rooney, Trainee Clinical Scientist (Medical Physics), NHS Lothian

A degree in Physics is normal starting point followed by a 3.5 year traineeship with NHS. There are several areas of specialism, the most common being Radiology as this is cancer treatment and receives most focus. At end of training, you get allocated to one of several cities, (you must move where you are allocated and relocate there).

She advises patients and staff of risks surrounding Ionising Radiation (MRIs, Ultrasounds, Brachytherapy radiation implants) and plans layout of labs and equipment to minimise these risks. The job is enjoyable as it is practical and patient facing as opposed to her physics degree which was theoretical. Many applicants can expect to apply twice or more. There are only 5-6 places and 200 applicants each year. The training is accredited by the Academy for Healthcare Science.

Ciara Gribben, Senior Information Analyst – Services Access, NHS

She did a statistics Degree which had a student placement, then went into employment followed by sideways move then promotion with supervisory responsibility. New role as Scrum Master. Her job involves providing stats to Scottish Government, often at very short notice and under pressure to verify accuracy. Main adaption was that real world is a lot more messy than the type within stats degree in an academic setting. There is huge variety to work and plenty of chances to move to different departments within this field. She finds it more enjoyable than degree as it is practical and not theoretical. Software used includes “R”.

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Space weather funding boost

British satellites will be better protected through a £20m boost to predict severe space weather events, the PM has announced whilst at the UN General Assembly today.

Space weather, such as flares or winds from the Sun’s surface or geomagnetic storms, can damage our satellites and cause power disruptions, issues to air transportation, and problems across communications systems, such as GPS and mobile phone networks.

The £20m announced today nearly quadruples investment from government into research that can improve systems at the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre. This will build the UK’s knowledge on how to forecast and better prepare for these space weather events.

More detail here

You can find out more about data opportunities in satellites here:

Working for The Princes Trust

Physics grad Naomi Hyde currently works as Supporter Services Coordinator at the Prince’s Trust supporting young people in the United Kingdom to transform their lives. Through training programmes, practical and financial support and other tools, the organisation helps young people who are facing issues such as homelessness or mental health issues. In over forty years the Prince’s Trust has supported over 870,000 clients, with three in four moving onto employment, education, volunteering, or training.

She also shares her decision-making process

Why did you decide to apply for this role? 

“When I graduated, I decided to take some time to myself and rather than starting in a new role, increased my hours at a supermarket where I was familiar with the environment. Later, there were various reasons I chose to avoid applying for graduate schemes.

Firstly, during final year, I was faced with so many demands that I simply did not have the time to apply. For me, it was impossible to dedicate the time to both my degree and the extensive application processes. By the time I had finished my degree, the charity graduate schemes which appealed to me had closed. The schemes in this sector are also limited, where the roles may not fit your skill-set or interests. Personally, it was best to go straight into a role that I knew I would enjoy and add value.

Find out more about Naomi’s role here

Conference for UG Women in Physics

Sara Evers shares her experience at the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics

When a friend told me about the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, I decided to apply without knowing very much about it. The first surprise came when I got invited and shortly after found out that two other girls from my year were attending. We decided to book tickets for the same trains, and we ended up on a six-hour train journey to Oxford together.

Since our train left Edinburgh very early in the morning, we had a few hours in Oxford before the conference started and decided to visit some sights, including the History of Science museum, which fittingly included an exhibition of remarkable women in science. That evening, the conference started with a welcome reception and buffet. There we got to meet many of the other girls attending from all over the UK and Ireland.

The first full day of the conference started with a visit of Rutherford Appleton Laboratories (RAL), a national research facility, with a range of different departments and areas of research. The most exciting part for me was the particle accelerator ISIS, the onsite muon and neutron source. Apart from that, the facilities host a central laser facility, a space research and engineering department and many other interesting facilities. Apart from the tours, we also got a series of talks from several female engineers working at RAL, who told us about their work, how they got where they are today and also about internship and graduate opportunities at RAL.

In the afternoon, we got a talk from Professor Alexandra Olaya-Castro from UCL, who told us about her research and her inspiring career path and the challenges she faced along the way. After that we got to attend different workshop. I took part of a medical physics workshop. As someone who has always been interested in medicine and biology, being able to meet and talk to three medical physicists and getting lots of information about the different career options and training schemes was very insightful.

On the second day, we started off with two talks. The first speaker was Doctor Francesca Day, who is both a theoretical particle physicist at Cambridge University and a stand-up comedian. She gave a talk about Science, Creativity and Stereotypes, talking both about her personal story and research and about general gender and inequality issues in Physics. The second speaker was Ms Carole Kenrick, a resident scientist working in primary schools in London, where she is trying to get young children invested and interested in science.

After the talks in the morning, we got a tour through some of the laboratories at Oxford University. I got to see a particle physics lab, where they worked on detectors for ATLAS, the particle accelerator and detector in Switzerland. We also saw a group working on producing solar cells out of biomaterials and some groups working on telescopes in the Astronomy department.

In the afternoon we got another talk from Dr Rain Irshad, who was talking about her career in space science, starting with her aim to become an astronaut and the many setbacks and changes in life, and how she ended up working at RAL space. Following her talk, there was a career panel, with six physicists who are now pursuing careers outside physics (e.g. Patent law, data science, government adviser). To me, this showcased the many opportunities I will have with a physics degree. The day ended with an informal chat with different scientists and PhD students at Oxford University, where we got to ask questions in a very relaxed atmosphere.

The conference ended on Sunday with a talk from Dr Suchitra Sebastian, talking about combining a career in physics with having a personal life and an academic panel. Attending this conference benefitted me in many different ways. Hearing from all the physicists about their work and their career path inspired me a lot. At the same time, I got to realise how many different career options there are with a degree in physics and how one can get into these different areas. On top of that, it was very motivating to hear about all the setbacks people had to overcome but still made it to where they are today. I now have a better understanding of what it means to do physics research both in academia and industry and what alternatives there are.

On a more practical level, I got to hear about several internship programmes, some of which I will definitely apply for next year, as well as information on postgraduate studies and funding, which will be very helpful in a few years’ time.

But the most inspiring aspect of the conference wasn’t even the great programme, but that I got to meet so many female physicists and physics students, all very passionate about this subject. Being used to usually having a male majority in every single lecture and workshop, sitting in a lecture theatre full of female physicists is quite an empowering feeling. Over the weekend, I got to meet so many great and inspiring people and made many great connections and friendships that will hopefully last for a long time. I’m very grateful to both the organisers of the conference, especially the main organiser Professor Daniela Bortoletto, and the School of Physics and Astronomy at Edinburgh University, who enabled us to attend the conference by covering our travel costs to Oxford.

Prosper – a student-run socially responsible finance fund – and how physics helps

Thanks to Duncan Harris, 4th year Physics & Music student for sharing his experience with Prosper

“Going into the third year of my Physics and Music degree I began to look for ways to use the skills I had been learning on my course for something beyond the realm of quantum mechanics. A friend pointed me in the direction of Prosper Social Finance, I applied to join and have been involved ever since.

Prosper is the UK’s first student run social finance fund, started by some students here at Edinburgh a couple of years ago. We take on student analysts and train them in the fundamentals of financial analysis, stock markets and sustainability assessment methods whilst they research companies who might be suitable for our fund. This culminates in a stock pitch to our panel of industry experts who select the best stocks to invest in with money from the University. We invest with a longer term view, holding our investments for 5 years after which we sell and take any of the profits and distribute them to social enterprises and charities in Edinburgh.

I joined with no investment experience, and one of the great strengths of Prosper is that it brings voices from all degree backgrounds to the table. I found the maths from my degree put me in a good position to understand all of the financial analysis, and the complex systems, analytical thinking helped me pull apart the messiness behind the sustainability issues facing companies today. I of course learned a lot as well, not least that there is far more complexity to sustainability than just net zero carbon targets and tote bags. What’s best is the programme and collaborative nature of the research allowed me to actually develop all of those skills that look great on a CV in a way that I feel I will definitely be able to apply in the future.

It has given me some great experience in an industry I would not have otherwise considered, and though I don’t think I will pursue a career in asset management specifically my time at Prosper has given me such a good foundation in finance, sustainable business practice and a broader approach to social issues that I feel well placed to pursue my interests in any of those areas.

We run the course each semester so if you’re looking to get involved in a project outside your degree within which you can build and apply your skillset, meet likeminded people and be involved in something that makes a difference I can’t recommend Prosper enough. I hope to see you there.”

To get involved with Prosper Social Finance follow the link to the website and apply there, or find us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

www.prospersocialfinance.co.uk