"Physics isn’t just about how things work and why; if you can achieve an A-Level in Physics, you demonstrate many more skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking and the ability to apply logic to any situation."
19 August 2016
Dr Charlotte Kemp, Clinical Scientist, Chartered Engineer and WISE Fellow, working in the Medical Physics Department at the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough. She is one of four recipients of the first Chief Scientific Officer’s WISE Fellowship Programme for NHS England
I am a Clinical Scientist working in the Medical Physics department at the James Cook University Hospital (JCUH) Middlesbrough. I head up the Clinical Measurement Section and we are responsible for delivering and developing specialist services (e.g. sleep, critical care, intraoperative monitoring) in the Trust. In addition to routine clinical work, we carry out clinically driven research and innovation projects with the aim of improving patient care. These projects often involve modifying equipment specific software, streamlining services, optimizing data analysis techniques or the design and construction of medical device/systems for use in the hospital, sometimes with the potential for commercial exploitation.
Without an A-level in Physics I would not have been able to go on to university to do a degree in Physics with Medical Physics and then on to do the job that I do today. Physics isn’t just about how things work and why; if you can achieve an A-Level in Physics, you demonstrate many more skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking and the ability to apply logic to any situation. The added value that a qualification in Physics brings opens the doors to so many different careers and makes you attractive to employees in scientific and academic disciplines, banking and accountancy, teaching, management consultancy, engineering to name just a few.
Schools can encourage more young females to take up physics by spotting those with a talent for it early on and connecting them with others with a similar interest, so that they don’t feel like the only one who isn’t pursuing alternatives such as English or the Arts. It takes courage to be the only female in a class, but it can also be incredibly enjoyable to work as the minority group and is character building; I think this experience helped to shape my views and make my working relationships with others more effective throughout my career after leaving school and university.
Schools could be more active in contacting their local STEM network with a view to promoting physics and getting successful women in physics and other STEM areas to come and visit the school to help engage the students. Nothing beats meeting someone face to face and hearing first-hand about their career choices, failures and successes!