Medical physics training
Teaching within the School of Medicine and Population Health has many benefits, not only for us – the ‘experts’ - to exercise our expertise, but also as an opportunity for us to benefit from the enquiring minds of our students.
Our student cohorts range from first year undergraduate level up to postgraduate and beyond. Medical Physics is a fascinating discipline that fundamentally applies the principles of physics to the real-life medical world. We strive to inject enthusiasm and incorporate interesting methods with our teaching with intriguing exercises for students not only to pique curiosity, but also to cement understanding. The opportunities presented by online learning have introduced a whole new set of challenges for effective teaching/learning and new approaches are being explored. Our simulation tools open interesting avenues for learning, offering insight about structures/fluids and imaging, mediated by both interactive computer simulations and virtual reality.
Medical Physics is a broad discipline that crosses many boundaries. Although based in the School of Medicine and Population Health, we also have strong connections with the University’s Engineering and Physics departments. Our emphasis is always the physics in medicine, with objectives relating to an appreciation of rigour, the value of approximation and the power of modelling. This sits well with our position within the Faculty of Health, since academic Medical Physics is part of the Mathematical Modelling in Medicine (MMM) group which itself has a cardiovascular focus. This is an interesting domain that matches the breadth of our interests since it invokes vascular dynamics/biomechanics and imaging as well as seeking predictive outputs based on simulation. Fundamentally we are a simulation group, and this influences all of our teaching.
Medical Physics supports the MBChB and BMedSci undergraduate programmes within the Faculty of Health, and offers 6 modules at undergraduate level as core material contributing to the Physics with Medical Physics degrees:
Our taught material is also core for several Bioengineering courses hosted by the Faculty of Engineering. Undergraduate research projects are integral to these degrees and every year we supervise 10 to 15 students addressing clinically facing problems. The clinically relevant topics are valued by the students and the research is valuable for proof of concept studies; numerous examples have progressed to become funded PhDs. Increasingly we also host undergraduate summer projects for periods of 6 to 10 weeks.
In contrast to our long established involvement in undergraduate teaching, our involvement with postgraduate courses is a new and emerging area. Our expertise in simulation comes to the fore here, and supports several postgraduate modules.
- In silico mini-project
- Simulation and virtual reality
- X-rays and imaging
It is our conviction that the PhD is as much an exercise in training as it is an exercise in research. Important skills to be developed as part of this approach are critical analysis, rigour and communication. Development of a training skills portfolio strengthens the student’s CV and helps to prepare him/her for employment at the end of the period of study.
Expertise in developing structured training programmes to support PhD research stems from participation in collaborations both at local level, including strong links with the Insigneo Institute for In Silico Medicine (situated within the Faculty of Engineering), and internationally through European Training Networks (MeDDiCA and VPH-CaSE) and more recently the Sano Centre, Krakow, Poland.
Numerous clinical professional groups require domain specific teaching for purposes of professional accreditation. Examples include clinical scientist training and radiology (FRCR); we have a long history of training in such areas. Contact with such professionals keeps our material clinically relevant and up-to-date, and often poses challenges as we try to communicate technical topics to non-domain experts in an informative manner. Our simulation expertise can produce models that have much to contribute here. Recent examples include development of a smartphone app for teaching the value of DRLs in radiology, and a virtual reality teaching environment that consolidates understanding of X-ray physics.
Medical physics teaching at Sheffield is rooted in simulation applied to biomechanics, imaging and cardiovascular medicine. It is deployed at all levels of study and supports students from undergraduate to professional accreditation. We pride ourselves on effective and innovative methods for teaching, which most often emerge from our capabilities with simulation.
- Key Publications
- Warriner DR, Bayley M, Shi Y, Lawford PV, Narracott A, Fenner J. Computer model for the cardiovascular system: development of an e-learning tool for teaching of medical students. BMC Med Educ. 2017 Nov 21;17(1):220. doi: 10.1186/s12909-017-1058-1.
- Recent Publications
- Ferrari S, Ambrogio S, Narracott A, Walker A, Morris P, Fenner J. An Encounter with a GPU-accelerated Solver for Biomedical Applications: interactive simulation to support clinical and design decisions. ASME Journal of Engineering and Science in Medical Diagnostics and Therapy. 2021 Aug;4(3):031002.
- Randall D, Fox S, Fenner J, Arblaster G, Bjerre A, Griffiths H. Using VR to Investigate the Relationship between Visual Acuity and Severity of Simulated Oscillopsia. Current Eye Research, 2020 Jun 17;45(120:1611-1618.
- Ferraiuoli P, Kappler B, van Tuijl S, Stijnen M, de Mol BAJM, Fenner JW, Narracott AJ. Full-field analysis of epicardial strain in an in vitro porcine heart platform. J Mech Behav Biomed Mater. 2019 Mar;91:294-300.
- Randall D, Griffiths H, Arblaster G, Bjerre A, Fenner J. Simulation of oscillopsia in virtual reality. British and Irish Orthoptic Journal, 2018 14(1):45-49.
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