Emily Aveyard

BSc (Hons) Physics, 2017
Clinical Scientist (Nuclear Medicine), University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust

I work as a Nuclear Medicine physicist. In our department we administer radioactive tracers to patients and image the tracer uptake in the body using radiation detecting scanners known as gamma cameras. We diagnose various conditions, including heart disease, Parkinson’s, cancerous tumours, and kidney function. In my role I ensure that radiation is used safely to confirm doses received by both patients and staff are kept low. I advise and train radiographers, doctors and nurses on best practice.

I help to implement new imaging techniques and optimise existing practice – such that the best quality images can be achieved for the lowest radiation dose to the patients and staff. I assist with our radionuclide therapy service where we administer patients with radioactive iodine to treat both thyroid cancer and overactive thyroid. I also perform periodic routine quality assurance and safety testing on our imaging equipment, and routinely use and develop imaging analysis software.

emily aveyard

What is the best thing about what you are doing now?

I enjoy working in a multi-disciplinary team that includes scientists, technologists, nurses and doctors. It’s fantastic to work alongside others who are passionate about healthcare science. I really enjoy getting to use the knowledge and skills gained from my physics degree every day for patient and public benefit, knowing I am directly contributing to advancements in patient care. The opportunity to make a difference to patient’s lives every day makes it an incredibly rewarding role.

What made you interested in your current role?

I learned about the applications of physics in medicine and healthcare during my degree, and in my final year chose modules that really supported my knowledge and strengthened my interest in the area. For my final year project I investigated nuclear medicine technologies currently used in hospitals, while my dissertation explored potential advances in external beam radiotherapy and proton therapy.

How has your career developed since graduating?

I completed the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) in Medical Physics. I spent a year in clinical rotations covering radiotherapy, diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine, MRI and ultrasound, before specialising in nuclear medicine and diagnostic radiology. I studied for an MSc Clinical Science (Medical Physics) at the University of Liverpool as part of my training. Having completed my training in 2020, I am now a state-registered Clinical Scientist with the capacity and responsibility to make vital decisions about patient care and safety.

We Are (Third Width)

Why did you originally apply to the University of Birmingham?

I applied to the University of Birmingham after visiting the campus. Having been unable to visit on an Open Day, during my visit I was given a private tour of Chancellor’s Court and the Physics buildings by the School’s admissions tutor, Irina. I instantly fell in love with the beautiful campus and could picture myself studying at the University. Irina answered all my questions and made me feel very welcome. I was impressed by the University’s strong reputation and rankings for Physics, and by the wide range of module choices available.

What are your fondest memories of the University?

My fondest memories of the University are of times spent with friends. The School of Physics and Astronomy would organise a trip to Coniston in the Lake District every year and I enjoyed spending a weekend away with friends, other students and lecturers at the university-owned Raymond Priestly Centre. For me the highlight of the year would always be the annual Poynting Physical Society (PPS) Ball. I am still in close contact with people I met during my time Birmingham, and my course mates have become friends for life.

Did you get involved in any extracurricular activities as a student?

I’m passionate about science outreach and the University’s location in the UK’s second city provided a multitude of exciting opportunities for this throughout my degree – from working at the British Science Festival and The Big Bang Fair, to interning with the Learning and Outreach Team at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum. I took part in the University’s Personal Skills Award programme and was nominated for Student of the Year 2017. The support of the University’s Careers Network proved invaluable when making applications for these opportunities, and ultimately for my current role.

What advice would you give to current students?

My advice would be to strongly consider enrolling on the Personal Skills Award (PSA) programme. It’s likely you will already be involved in extra-curricular activities which will contribute PSA points, but the programme encourages you to think about what you have learnt and focus on the particular skills you have gained. The programme really helped me to better articulate my employability skills, by demonstrating how an employer would want to see that skill demonstrated both in an application form and in an interview. I found it to be invaluable when I was applying to the NHS Scientist Training Programme.

Key words from Emily

“My fondest memories of the University are of times spent with friends. I am still in close contact with people I met during my time Birmingham, and my course mates have become friends for life.”