The field of study of medical physics did not exist when I chose a major at the university. That’s why I started working on a ‘normal’ physics major. It was only during my Ph.D. studies that I came into contact with medical physics due to a disease in my family environment. As a result, I became familiar with radiation therapy and learned that physicists are also employed in this area. This was the starting point of my personal interest in medical physics, because this application fascinated me right from the start. Parallel to my Ph.D. studies, I then began a correspondence course in “Medical Physics and Technology” at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern.
During my Ph.D. studies, I already received an offer to get training as a medical physics expert in radiation therapy at Frankfurt University Hospital. I worked in hospitals for a total of 15 years, the last nine years until 2012 as a senior medical physicist in radiation therapy in Hanau City Hospital. Then came a time when I wanted to leave the hospital to apply my clinical experience to the development of measuring equipment for quality assurance. Since I had worked with PTW products throughout my entire medical physicist career, I already knew them very well and was pleased to be offered a job at PTW.
I started at PTW as a product specialist. After three years, I took over as a sales manager for the USA and Canada. During that time, I discovered that I actually cared much more about the clinical application and explaining our products. I had already taught radiographers and medical technologists (“MTRA”) at the university hospital, so the idea crossed my mind to set up an application team at PTW to support our customers and provide internal training for our sales team as well as our application specialists in our branch offices worldwide. Management considered it a good idea, and now I've been in charge of the “Education and Training” Department since the beginning of 2020. Responsibilities not only include developing educational and training content, but also optimizing technical implementation. Both on-site training events as well as online demos and training sessions, webinars, tutorials and podcasts are now part of our repertoire. The work is very varied, since organizing events is also part of the tasks.
Above all, I like the fact that I am very free in my decisions and that I can contribute many of my own ideas and also implement ideas from co-workers. I have few restrictions in this context. I still appreciate contact with customers. I enjoy working with and helping colleagues from hospitals, most of whom I still know well from my time working there. I like the connection between everyday hospital life and the use of our products at a high level.
In a hospital, I was always fascinated by applied physics and the fact that you can help to optimize the treatment of the patients together with doctors. On the other hand, individual confrontation with patients can be very stressful in the long term, especially when you don’t succeed in helping them.
The motivation of a medical device manufacturer is to optimize their products so they are much easier to use and actually fulfill the requirements and tasks in a hospital. This requires not only technical and physical knowledge and understanding, but also constant feedback from hospitals. A very nice aspect of this is to work in a group in which all parties collaborate and do not work against each other because there are different interests.
I greatly appreciate the flat hierarchies as well as the strong communication and the short decision paths. In addition, I like my co-workers. We are a very good team at PTW, and it is a great pleasure to work there.
You need hospital experience first. Therefore, I would definitely recommend working in a hospital for a few years before embarking on a career in industry. Hospital experience is an essential aspect of a medical physicist. If you have not been able to breathe this air, you cannot really sense what the actual needs and necessities in a hospital are. You have to understand the language of a hospital to find out where the problems are.