Internationally on 7 November, we commemorate medical physics around the world and raise awareness about the role medical physicists play for the benefit of our patients.
At the RCH, we are fortunate to have Amanda and Sam looking after all the radiation across the hospital. Keep reading to find out what this unique role involves!
Hi Amanda and Sam!
Can you tell us a bit about your role and your team? How does it all work?
Amanda: Working as the RCH’s Radiation Safety Officer, I am part of a very small team which includes the Medical Physics Registrar, Sam, and myself. This role is incredibly exciting as we look after all the radiation across the RCH, this includes both ionising and non-ionising radiation.
Sam: I am currently working as a Medical Physics Registrar in the medical imaging department. My role involves developing my knowledge in radiology medical physics and assisting Amanda in caretaking for the radiation here at the RCH.
Both: We ensure that all radiological procedures are performed with the best imaging quality and at the lowest radiation dose possible, an aspect that is crucial for the young patients we provide care to at the RCH. This includes imaging procedures such as X-ray, CT, fluoroscopy, nuclear medicine, and more. We also provide safety advice for non-ionising work areas such as surgical lasers.
What does a typical day at the RCH look like for you?
Amanda: Every day is so different. Some common tasks that Sam and I perform include quality assurance testing of medical imaging equipment, monitoring of radiation doses to staff and patients, performing radiation risk assessments for research trials and assessing the radiation shielding to ensure that there is enough lead in the walls of imaging rooms so that staff and patients outside the room are safe, just to name a few. Another big part of our role is being a resource for staff, patients, and visitors who have questions or concerns relating to radiation. This means we do a lot of communication to all stakeholders at the RCH in the form of presentations, information sheets, or answering questions in the morning coffee line.
Sam: Being new in an amazing organisation has offered me so many opportunities to develop my skills and knowledge, and to work with experts in paediatric radiology. These opportunities have ranged from observing nuclear medicine studies to learning the ins and outs of MRI. The facilities and staff at the RCH have allowed me to expand my knowledge in such a short time.
How do you manage to monitor every child undergoing medical imaging at the RCH?
Both: We were fortunate enough to receive a grant from The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation to purchase a software MyXrayDose which tracks the dose received by every patient for every exam. This software automatically tracks and trends the radiation doses used at our hospital. It also alerts us of procedures completed that register outside ‘normal’ dosage, so we can investigate further. This technology allows us to keep a keen eye on our clinical practices and ensures that our practice is optimal for all our patients for their medical needs, while helping us provide a pathway for sustainable healthcare into the future.
Are there any common misconceptions about your work?
Both: For starters, most people don’t know medical physicists exist! For those that do know about us, we can be seen as the ‘radiation police’ because we tend to turn up when things go wrong. However, we do a lot of work in the background to make sure that the radiation is being used not only safely, but also optimally. This includes providing advice on equipment purchases and refining protocols to ensure we have the best image quality possible. This is always completed with other members of the medical imaging team, particularly the radiologists (doctors) and radiographers (technologists). People may not know about us, but we are a key part of a medical imaging service provision!
What is something you love doing when not on the clock?
Amanda: I love food but don’t enjoy cooking, so I like going out and trying all different types of food or a delicious home cooked meal that someone else makes – I love eating everything except olives and blue cheese (yuck!). I am a huge animal lover and am the proud mum of two fur babies (cats) that love to sit on my lap while watching terrible reality TV, my guilty pleasure! I also like walking along the river and asking strangers if I can pat their puppy.
Sam: I moved to Melbourne for this position from NSW, so most of my weekends are spent exploring Melbourne with my partner. We enjoy spending our weekends finding new restaurants, bars, and places to discover. If we’re not exploring, you can find us spending time with our puppy, Louie, who loves a play down at our local park. I’m a massive sports head, so I love getting out to kick the footy or practicing at the driving range. I’m still in the process of teaching Louie to fetch my golf balls – he’s gotten pretty good at collecting the ones that go just past my toes!