Warwick Smith, UWA Medical Physics graduate with great passion and bright future
In this page we are going to introduce Warwick Smith, one of our masters graduates. Warwick completed his degree in Physics & Nanotechnology in Murdoch University in 2017. He started a Master of Physics (Medical Physics) at UWA and received his degree in 2019.
Warwick’s research project title was: “Clinical implementation of 3D printed Brachytherapy surface-applicators for high dose rate Brachytherapy in Radiation Oncology”.
Warwick was offered a position at Genesis Cancer Care, WA as a scientific officer right after graduation. Then he worked in Radiation Oncology department at SCGH for two years.
Warwick started working as a ROMP TEAP registrar at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Bendigo in August-2022.
Here are some comments from Warwick’s program coordinator and principal supervisor, Dr Pejman Rowshan Farzad.
“Warwick was in contact with us since undergraduate, and soon after starting a masters he showed great interest in medical physics. Warwick started his project on 3D printing for superficial brachytherapy treatments, and the department of Radiation Oncology at SCGH started to treat patients using superficial brachytherapy based on his work.
Warwick had major contribution in research activities in our group during his time at SCGH in addition to his several clinical projects. He also helped a couple of masters students and was involved in the training of new students in 3D printing.
Warwick received an offer to enter the TEAP program as a ROMP registrar at Peter MacCallum which was a very competitive position.
His kind personality and caring nature makes Warwick an incredible medical physicist in any department. I wish him all the best in his future career.”
Warwick kindly accepted to answer a few questions about his experience in the UWA Medical Physics Research Group.
Introduction and your current position and role:
Hi, my name is Warwick Smith, I am a Master of Physics: Medical Physics graduate from the University of Western Australia in 2019. I previously completed a Bachelor of Science degree from Murdoch University in 2017 and went onto study the Master of Medical Physics degree offered by the University of Western Australia. My research topic was on the applications of 3D printing used in high dose rate Brachytherapy for personalized patient treatment outcomes. During this research I developed a novel method for contact brachytherapy (also known as superficial brachytherapy) which could reduce; treatment costs, planning time, treatment time, and increasing safety and treatment radiation prescription accuracy. The work in this research awarded me the research advisory committee research (RAC) grant from Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.
I am currently employed at Peter MacCallum as a TEAP Medical Physics Registrar at the Bendigo Health Hospital. The main component to my role here is quality assurance, research and commissioning new equipment and treatment techniques. I assist with many day-to-day clinical tasks and work closely with a multi-disciplinary team. My experience in Radiation Oncology has exposed me to many aspects of a Medical Physics. I have gained hands on experience and worked along side some of Australia’s most reputable Physicists. I have been so fortunate to be involved with projects relating to new radiotherapy equipment and the introduction to semi-automated quality assurance which is being implemented throughout many aspects of Radiation Oncology.
What did you enjoy most about UWA, and Medical Physics research group?
The Medical Physics programme was unique in that most of the classes were taught in the clinical setting, from radiotherapy clinics to hospitals. Additionally, the classes were tailored made to current industry standards. This is unique because the Master of Medical Physics programme at UWA is accredited by the Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM) which is the certification body of Australasia for Physics in Medicine.
The course is constructed by two of the world’s leading minds in Medical Physics. Dr Pejman Rowshanfarzad and Dr Martin Ebert with the emphasis on their lessons being taught in a practical sense alongside clinical Medical Physics Specialists whom are currently working in both the public and private sectors throughout Western Australia.
During my time in the Medical Physics programme I experienced a high degree of exposure to industry and formed many key networks. I gained insight into the most cutting-edge information of new medical equipment and spent many hours divulging through Medical Physics concepts.
The environment was nurturing but not to the point where you couldn’t grow yourself. You got to make choices of what you wanted to research and spend your time investigating. I spent my time researching uses for 3D printing in Radiation Oncology and discovered something I didn’t even think I could do. I would say the most enjoyable part of the Medical Physics course was learning and doing things you never thought you could while having the support and encouragement to pursue your newfound talents.
Can you give us your top three reasons to study Medical Physics?
1.) If you studied Physics, you probably like to challenge yourself mentally. For me it was one of the greatest challenges of my life. It pushed me to my mental limits. There is a certain level that is demanded of you and if you don’t meet that level you feel like you let yourself down, so for me it encouraged me to be better and do better. In this study there are no shortcuts but by the end you will really know what you’re capable of. Yes, it is challenging but it is also very rewarding as what you do effects the very patients going through treatment which is the most rewarding aspect of the job.
2.) You are at the cutting edge of the medical industry working with multi-million dollar state of the art equipment. In many ways the ball stops with you. It is your responsibility to ensure the safety of both employees and patients receiving treatment. You contribute and work alongside some of the most talented minds of the industry and collectively push the goal posts to further improve patient treatments and clinical outcomes.
3.) You gain an in-depth understanding of the inner workings of medical equipment and treatment methods. The training is not just in a classroom but within hospitals, clinics and sometimes in theatres. As a student you attend practicals that allow you to observe how the knowledge you have learnt applies into practice which is crucial to becoming a great medical physicist.
How do you feel you have made a difference in your field of research?
I found the research I was involved in was pushing the current standards of Brachytherapy treatments. The current standard for superficial Brachytherapy is expensive, time consuming, highly variable in quality and reproducibility. The method I created witnessed a significant reduction in expense, model creation time and was highly accurate and reproducible. The interest surrounding the research has expanded throughout the department and I was able to work alongside medical physics specialists to further develop this method for complex treatment sites with the aim to develop this as the new clinical standard. This research can drastically improve radiotherapy treatments for all types of superficial based cancers. The improved dose conformity boasters a higher quality of treatment and likely better treatment outcomes.
What is your best advice to current students and Medical Physics applicants?
The best piece of advice I could give you is, to be involved with as much as possible. I would spend as much time as I could in the hospital, working on my research in-between classes and on days I didn’t have classes. This resulted in unique opportunities to gain some experience with key personnel. When a machine would need a service, I was able to attend the QA and see what a clinical Medical Physicist would do and how they would problem solve. Other times I was asked to assist with side projects for the department where I gained hands on experience. These opportunities were presented to me because I was there. I recall often being involved with many aspects in the department and gaining more and more knowledge and important key connections to the people in the industry. This is essential for this industry, because of the number of Medical Physicists in Australia, you are likely going to meet people that know people from other centres in which you apply to. My advice is always be there, ready, willing and available to step up, help or be apart of whatever your supervisor insists you be apart of. This might mean you have to put your social life on hold. It might mean you have to re-schedule dinners with partners, but the time here is temporary and every aspect of how you perform is under observation. Show them the best part of yourself and you will stand out.
Here is Warwick’s recorded final research project presentation.
We wish Warwick all the best in his career and life.
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