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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Career in Radiation Physics


Physics is a branch of science concerned with the study of properties and interactions of space, time, matter and energy. Energy is required in one form or other and is very important for the survival of life on earth and its study attracts lot of attention. Radiation is also energy and is defined as energy (in the form of light, heat or sound) which travels through any medium or space and ultimately absorbed by another body. Radiation physics is a branch of Physics which deals with the interaction of the radiation with matter in general and involves calculation of doses for radiation therapy in medical field in particular. The radiations could be ionizing or non-ionizing depending on the energy carried by the photon. Since the ionizing radiations could be harmful, an important ethical question is the safe extent of exposure of the radiations to humans in the industry, research institutions or for medical diagnostics. From this very property of radiations to harm the human tissues, it is imperative to have trained personnel in the field who can provide the safety measures and expert handling of all such issues. In order to moniter the establishments dealing with radiations, Atomic Energy Regulatory board (AERB) was established on November 15, 1983. Its responsibility is to monitor the establishments using radiations and give them acredition to use radiation facilities after fulfilling crieteria laid by the board. One of the mandatory requirement is to have radiation safety officer(RSO) in the organisation to monitor the usage of radiation and to curtail the extent of damage caused in case of any uneventful accident.

It is hoped that 25,000 MW of nuclear power capacity will be added through imports of nuclear reactors and fuel by 2020. With the increase of nuclear power plants in future , the human resourse for radiation safety measures will increase tremendously. Another area where the Radiation Physicist or Medical Physcist  plays important role is the calculation of safe radiation doses in medical treatment with radiations. Here also crucial role of Radiation Physcist comes into play for calculation of doses.   Thus radiation physics could not only be an alluring career option but also a challenging career with an aim for providing safety to the humans engaged in welfare of mankind by making constructive use of radiations.
Due to its tremendous scope for research besides application in medical diagnostics this  has been a very active field. The field garners lots of interest because it has provided some of the path breaking inventions and  has been instrumental in providing improved manufacturing processes, nuclear energy, and advanced medical diagnostic and treatment options. Further the field involves rich physics and generates interest from all, either physicist , biologist, chemists or medical fraternity. It is highly multidisciplinary in nature and is now backbone of the nuclear medical diagnostics.

Radiation physics is an active field of research and persons taking it as a career option can also go for the advance research as well in the field. Another point which makes it a lucrative career option is the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board’s (AERB) mandatory regulations of trained people in institutions dealing with the radiations. These institutions need to have trained radiation safety personnel for their routine work. Since hitherto it is less known field few people have ventured in this area, and the field is facing acute shortage of trained people available for organizations dealing with radiations, thus demand is high and excellent paid jobs are available. 

With the increase and better prospects of trained radiation safety personnels, many universities like Osmania University, Anna University, Manipal University, Panjab University etc. have started diploma and degree courses in radiation Physics or medical physics besides the pioneering work done by BARC, Mumbai. Under AERB regulations all medical imaging and radiation therapy machines have to be evaluated by a Qualified Medical Physicist. The medical physicist oversees quality assurance programs and is a resource for ensuring the safe use of radiation in the medical setting.

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