IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – An early career professional is recruiting college graduates to work in EM’s cleanup at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site as a growing number of employees reach retirement age.
Britt Edquist began work at the Idaho Cleanup Project four years ago and is now a senior health physicist and radiation protection technical specialist for EM cleanup contractor Fluor Idaho.
“Health physics is a specialized field that requires a person to be a problem solver and adaptable to changing conditions,” Edquist said. “Since it’s so specialized, we need to start reaching out to the next generation to replace those who are retiring.”
Edquist enjoys the technical challenges of her job and believes the health physics field is a good fit for students interested in science and engineering fields. Health physicists at the INL Site provide technical expertise to ensure workers, the public, and the environment are protected from contamination from EM’s environmental cleanup, including decontamination and demolition (D&D) projects.
Every January, Edquist works with the faculty at Colorado State University (CSU), her alma mater, to bring health physics graduate students to the INL Site for a tour and meetings to discuss potential careers. She also encourages the students to apply for summer internships and positions at the site.
In discussions with students, Edquist promotes the profession’s job security.
“If you’re willing to move, there’s always a D&D project somewhere that will need a qualified health physics professional,” she said.
Edquist has also worked with Idaho State University (ISU) to encourage graduate students to seek careers at Fluor Idaho. She plans to revitalize the society's eastern Idaho chapter to promote professional development and educate the public about radiation. That too, she hopes, will raise the public’s awareness of her profession and its contribution to the EM program.
Edquist's advocacy for her profession is working. Last year, Fluor Idaho hired a health physics graduate student from ISU, first as an intern, then full time as a radiological engineer. A recent CSU health physics graduate has begun working as a radiological engineer and an ISU student working towards a master’s degree will begin a summer position in radiation protection.