At Suffolk

  • Radiation Science Major
  • Internship, Medical Health Physics, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston

Since Suffolk

  • Most Recently Medical Health Physics Specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston

Why did you choose to study Radiation Science?

I originally decided to study radiation science because I was interested in getting into the clinical side - Radiation Therapy. A friend of mine was studying it at that time and she just made it out to sound like the perfect match. I started out at Suffolk University as a transfer student which meant that I had a majority of the core credits complete. This meant I got to really dive right into the Radiation Science classes. I immediately felt like “this is it, this is what I was meant to do”. I believe it was my second year at Suffolk where I took one of the classes that had a hands-on requirement.  Radiation Physics allowed me to see firsthand the types of things I would be doing as a Radiation Therapist. It was this class where I came to the conclusion that becoming a Radiation Therapist just wasn’t for me. I loved being more in the background. I loved the science behind it all, the physics, and the calculations. I loved the idea of helping people, interacting with them and being a part of their treatment but for some reason I just didn’t get that “at home” feeling. So, I decided to stick with where I was happy. I was always told that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life! And that’s the type of life I was looking for! I started to do some research and try to find where I think I might fit in. Little did I know I would soon be offered an incredible opportunity for an internship.

How did your Suffolk internship prepare you for your career after graduation?

I remember getting the email from Program Director Jessica Mak’s office saying that all students in Radiation Science had the opportunity at an internship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. My eyes lit up and I thought this was it! This is what I had been waiting for.  I had been accepted into a round of telephone interviews. This is how I met Jennifer [O’Riorden, a Suffolk alumna who teaches Radiation Biology for the Radiation Therapy program]. After a few rounds of interviews I was given an incredible opportunity to be a part of the BIDMC family. I quickly, almost instantly got that “at home” feeling I had been searching for. My role as an intern at first was to observe all functions of the office.  The role of a Medical Health Physicist is so diverse! There are two main aspects to the office. One being the clinical side, and the other being research. On the clinical side I observed iodinations, brachytherapy, and the functions of the dosimetrist. On the research side I was able to see how radiation was used in the labs. How to control it, protect yourself from unnecessary exposure and how to use it safely are just a few to name! On an average day I could be seen in any one of those areas. The internship showed me a different side of Radiation Science I didn’t even know existed.  The internship prepared me by strengthening my skills in many areas of the Medical Health Physics world. It taught me the social skills I needed to interact with many different groups of people, for example the President of the hospital, doctors, patients and environmental staff. It also taught me really how to be a team player. Everyone helped each other and everyone played a part. One of the most important things the internship taught me was how important it is to keep learning. Everyone makes mistakes but the key is to learn from them. Do the research and ask the questions!

What does a typical day in your job look like?

As a Medical Health Physics specialist, my role was more geared towards the research side of things. I was responsible for surveying all the research labs and clinical areas for contamination.  I was responsible for radioactive waste collection and management.  I spent time speaking with and getting to know any and all lab members and ensuring they were using safe practices and comfortable using the materials they were working with. But thanks to the internship I was also able to assist on the clinical side of things as well! Another exciting part of my role allowed me to be a part of an emergency response team. This prepared me for actual response in an emergency situation as well as training others. A typical day for me, put me in any one of those places! That is my favorite part of this field. It is truly so diverse! I could be anywhere at any given time.