Radiation Protection Today Winter 2021 - Page 15

Building My Nuclear Future : Making the journey from Health Physics Monitor to Radiation Protection Adviser

Kerry Crossingham MSRP took the longer route to become a Radiation Protection Adviser , and now works for Babcock International in Rosyth . To others who may be considering a career in radiation protection , she offers the following advice : “ Not having a degree doesn ' t mean you ' re not academic – it may just be that you didn ' t have the time or opportunity to study full time . But if you ' re prepared to work hard and make the most of opportunities that come along , you can reach the same destination by another route . You will also gain valuable experience which will set you apart in the workplace .”

My journey from Health Physics monitor took fifteen years . I had done well at school , with nine GCSEs , but due to the need to provide carer support to an elderly family member , I was not able to leave my home town in Cumbria to go to University . Instead , I attended a local college and obtained a National Diploma in secretarial studies . My first placement was at Sellafield where I noticed the job as a Health Physics monitor , applied , and qualified within two years . I eventually moved to Harwell , where I obtained my City & Guilds I and II in Radiation Safety Practices and rose through promotions to become a Health Physics Supervisor . By that time I was writing health physics procedures which were used by health physicists , and I realised the work I was doing was good enough to become a health physicist . I was thankfully encouraged and mentored by another RPA to start the journey .
I began to apply for jobs as a health physicist , and worked first at Aldermaston and then for Atkins in Cumbria . I managed this despite not having a degree , but based on my
Radiation Protection Today Winter 2021 experience . I enjoyed the job , and was even advising on work I used to undertake myself when employed as a monitor at Sellafield ! Atkins supported my development , encouraging me to obtain a foundation degree in Nuclear Decommissioning whilst working . This was quite difficult , as I had a very young family and had to balance everything . Within five years of becoming a health physicist , however , I submitted my portfolio and became an RPA .
I have worked as a consultant RPA for nine years , and have also obtained a BSc ( Hons ) in Radiation Protection in my own time . I am now working as an RPA decommissioning nuclear submarines ; a role I really enjoy .
My advice to someone wanting to undertake this journey is to go for it , but you have to really want to do it because it ' s really hard work . I am very proud of the journey I have been on . I feel I have an advantage as an RPA because I know how to do the job on the shop floor , and get a lot of respect for that . Being an RPA is a totally different mindset from being an HP monitor , as you learn why you do the job , and the legislation . It ' s a journey because when you are a monitor , you are told to do things , and you want to know why . It got to the point where it could even feel taboo to ask questions , because people couldn ' t always give the answers . Being an RPA makes everything click , and helps you to understand why you did what you did to start with .