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National Prize for Medical Physicist’s Short Stories

Katharine Thomson

Principal Medical Physicist at University Hospitals Plymouth (UHP), Katharine Thomson, has won a short story competition for the Institute of Physics in Engineering and Medicine (IPEM). Her two short stories for children set in the world of medical physics, help to shine a light on the real-life work of the Clinical and Radiation Physics team. Katharine won the prize in two categories for her stories drawing on her professional experiences.

Katharine, who has worked for UHP since 2017, said: “The competition seemed like an interesting challenge. I had to include aspects of medical physics in a way that was interesting and not too much like a textbook, as well as being a good story. It was also fun thinking up a scenario in which physicists can save the day!”

Clinical and Radiation Physics, part of Healthcare Science and Technology, is a group of scientists, technologists and other staff supporting the use of radiation in medicine. Many people are unaware of the work they carry out, and IPEM is always looking at ways of promoting careers in medical physics.

Katharine said: “When I was at school I had no idea how wide-ranging the situations are in which physics can have a real, practical impact on people's lives. The sciences can seem quite dry and theoretical, but I think more people might choose to study them, and to consider working in healthcare, if they knew that there were so many interesting applications.”

Peter Forbes, competition judge and the Royal Literary Fund Project Fellow at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Engaging young people in science and medicine is an urgent task. Short stories are a very effective way of bringing medical matters into the natural orbit of young people. The best short stories highlight a single theme and create a world it is easy to step into. I was impressed by how well the stories on offer did this and believe it’s an initiative that could be tried on a larger scale.”

To read Katharine’s stories, visit:

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