dcsimg

Career Story: State Radiological Safety Expert

State Radiological Safety Expert

Job Title: Health Physicist

Type of Company: I work for the state of North Carolina. Our primary goal is to protect the citizens and the environment from the harmful affects of ionizing radiation while promoting its safe use in industry, medicine, and research.

Education: BS, Biology, North Carolina State University •• ALM (Masters in Liberal Arts), Government, Harvard University

Previous Experience: I worked as a radiological safety technician for Harvard University.

Job Tasks: We are a regulatory agency. A typical day starts off with reviewing license applications or applications to amend current licenses for the use of radioactive materials or radiation-producing machines and returning telephone calls and e-mail messages responding to queries about the use of radioactive materials. Depending upon our luck (or lack thereof, depending upon your perspective) we may have to deal with incidents or alleged incidents involving the use or misuse of material. Most often these calls come from the scrap metal industry when an unknown radiation source in a load of scrap metal trips a monitor at the entrance to the scrap yard, but they can also be medical events where a patient receives an incorrect radiation dose, or involve the theft or loss of material from a field location.

When we receive an incident call from a licensee or a member of the public, or when someone makes an allegation against a licensee, we will conduct an investigation to determine what the facts of the situation are and respond accordingly. Most of the time the calls end up being benign. On rare occasions the call is due to the loss of radioactive material and on extremely rare occasions there is a radiation injury to investigate. We conduct health and safety inspections at facilities that use radioactive materials and radiation producing machines of all types: from accelerators to X-rays. With the current concern over terrorism and the diversion of radioactive materials for "dirty bombs" we also conduct security inspections.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Best part of my job: just when I'm bored to death with the job something unique and really cool happens, and I realize that no one else in the state does what I do.

the worst part: all the paperwork, phone calls, and tedious follow-up, followed by a continuous struggle against emotion-driven politicization and willful ignorance of radiation and radiation effects.

Job Tips: While you are in school focus on the 'hard' sciences: math, chemistry, engineering, physics. Sadly, majors in biology and computer science are considered 'soft' - although I daresay the difference is trivial, since everyone entering the field requires significant additional training in radiation protection concepts and instrumentation use. To be successful a Masters degree is highly suggested, though it does not need to be in physics.

Popular Schools offering Radiologic Technology Programs

quickinfoThese schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles).

Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.

Matching School Ads

You've found Ashford University, where school comes to you. Earn your bachelor's or master's degree online.

  • Programs: B/S Health Information Management
  • Degrees: Bachelor

As a student at South University, Online Programs, you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.

  • Programs: Specialization in Nursing Informatics (MSN)
  • Degrees: Master

Work toward your degree online with University of Cincinnati Online.

  • Programs: Bachelor of Radiation Science Technology
  • Degrees: Bachelor

San Joaquin Valley College - A Private Junior College.

  • Programs: Degree - Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Degrees: Associate
Platt College
Ontario, Riverside

Turn your talents into a career at nationally recognized and accredited Platt College.

  • Programs: Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Degrees: Associate
California College San Diego
National City, San Marcos

The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started

  • Programs: Health Information Management (BS)
  • Degrees: Bachelor

Study for your graduate education with University of Illinois at Chicago.

  • Programs: Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Degrees: Master
Matching School Ads
You are visiting:

Find a school near you

What are Career Stories?

Career Stories are concise, real-world career overviews written by people relating their personal career experiences and wisdom. They provide invaluable insights and mentoring advice to students and career changers.

Most stories include:

  • a typical day or project
  • tips and advice
  • best and worst parts
  • educational background
  • previous experience

Browse hundreds of Career Stories

More Details On This Career

Please also see our detailed information about Physicists And Astronomers, including:

Back to Top