Yorkshire and Humber regional open day for prospective medical physics Scientist Training Programme (STP) trainees

Scientist with microscope

13 / 06 / 2013

A review of STP applications in 2012 showed that there were very few applicants choosing the Yorkshire and Humber region. 

To address this, the region organised an open day to promote clinical science careers in medical physics.

What we did and why

Since the implementation of Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC), recruitment of trainee clinical scientists has moved from a local to a national process, facilitated by the National School of Healthcare Science.

This national Scientist Training Programme recruitment has altered the demographic profile of graduate applicants to the training centre and as a result local recruitment and retention rates have fallen.

The trust decided to combine resources at a regional level to promote the high calibre of research and development in the region providing a resourceful way of encouraging candidates to choose Yorkshire and Humber to train and work.

The aim was to create a regional 'pool' of clinical scientists from which the whole region could benefit.

How we did it

Holding a regional open day was discussed and approved at SHA Workforce Implementation Groups. Leeds was chosen as a central location with good transport links and event space with no cost implication.

Local universities (Manchester, Leeds, Hull, Durham, Sheffield) were sent an advert electronically to display in their physics department and were asked to cascade to their 3rd/4th year BSc physics and PhD students.  The advert stated the venue, date and how to register. The National School of Healthcare Science included it on their national calendar.

Registration for the open day was managed via the NHS Leeds Medical Physics website, who also advertised details of the programme with a summary of the training scheme, in order to catch other students who may be searching the internet for open days. This online registration method reduced administration overheads.

The region contacted the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine, and asked if they would sponsor lunch. They agreed, and also provided promotional material on Medical Physics and IPEM membership.

The open day programme was developed so that the prospective trainee would gain knowledge of what medical physics is and where it fits in to clinical science (including some explanation of the specialist areas). It also gave each of the three regional training centres an opportunity to highlight the research and development that was being carried out within their trust.

The open day included a long lunch break to allow the prospective trainees to network and participate in the various hands-on demonstrations. These were designed to emphasise what medical physics involves, some of the equipment used and to showcase the research and development from the different trusts in the region. 

Lunch also gave the prospective trainees time to ask questions and find out more about medical physics, STP and the recruitment process. To give the candidates further information on the day to day working environment, there were two talks on medical physics in practice, from a patient facing and non-patient facing physicist. Finally there was an open question and answer session. 

Results and next steps

Key to the success of this initiative was providing prospective trainees with information about medical physics and the clinical scientist training programme from scientists who work in the area and deliver training themselves.

The open day was held on 18 January 2013 and was attended by 29 people.  Feedback on the range of research and development happening across the region and the information on STP was very positive.

The plan is to repeat the open day in 2014, possibly combining it with life sciences and physiological sciences, including breakout sessions to allow more specific information for the different themes and/or laboratory tours.

Expansion into other themes will also require further interaction with colleagues, and possibly a different structure to the open day.

Tips for other trusts

  • Plan ahead.
  • Reduce your administration overheads by sending an automatic confirmation at the time of registration (this avoids candidates sending emails to ask if they have a place).
  • Try to secure funding for lunch. If possible engage with charitable/education funds. This avoids logistics around costs being split between trusts.
  • Ensure there is enough time for the trainees to speak to the experts on a one-to-one basis.

The organisation

The department of medical physics and engineering at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (Yorkshire and Humber Region)employs approximately 220 medical physics scientists and technologists covering a full range of medical physics and engineering services.

Contact details

Alexis Moore, Training Officer for Medical Physics, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

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