# Medical Physics

by jonnylane
Tags: medical, physics
 P: 23 I can't speak for the USA, but here in the UK you can't work as a physicist without an MSc and accredited training. It's known as "grade A",and is run by IPEM (www.ipem.co.uk) I (being the only exception I know of), on the other hand, have a BSc and am a physicist, albeit a new one. I had some experience, and there is a staff shortage, so they made an exception. I am studying my MSc part time. I was put on a probationary 6 week period (on pretty poor pay) to see if I was up to the job. I was deemed to be, so they offered me a proper salary and a fully funded MSc and a training period after that. Basically, I have worked hard and have been very lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Experience and higher education are important, but the hospitals in this country mainly look for evidence of interest and committment to the field. Just try to get involved in things, read up on some medphys topics, learn the basics of how things work, and then you should be armed with knowledge and evidence of interest when it comes to approaching places about getting a job. I've only just joined that forum as well: take a look at my recent post to see what I'm working on at the moment. For any more advice, don't hesitate to ask. I'm glad to see people interested in what I consider to be a very worhwhile application of physics. Jonathan
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 Originally posted by jono I can't speak for the USA, but here in the UK you can't work as a physicist without an MSc and accredited training. It's known as "grade A",and is run by IPEM (www.ipem.co.uk)
I assume that you mean that you can't work in the medical-physics field with without an MSc right? It's not like you can't find a job in your country with just a BS right?

re - applications of physics to medicine

If I could do just one thing with physics in the medical field before I left this life then I'd like to find a way to do a bone marrow biopsy which does not give the patient such an enourmous amount of pain. That pain is one of the traumatizing things about fighting Leukemia. I never reached pain levels that high before this roller coaster started. And during a one year period I had to have 8 of them.

Any thoughts folks?

Pmb
P: 23
 Originally posted by pmb I assume that you mean that you can't work in the medical-physics field with without an MSc right? It's not like you can't find a job in your country with just a BS right?
You can work in the field with just a BSc or BA, but not as a physicist. You can be a technician or research assisstant. Most physicists are expected to to a PhD at some point, and are often encouraged to do post-doc research. Many are part time lecturers at universities as well.

Bone marrow biopsies are particularly unpleasant, as you mention. I also find lumbar punctures pretty awful.

Jonathan
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 Originally posted by jono You can work in the field with just a BSc or BA, but not as a physicist. You can be a technician or research assisstant. Most physicists are expected to to a PhD at some point, and are often encouraged to do post-doc research. Jonathan
That's interesting. It isn't like that in the US. But that's all titles. For example: To get a job as a dosimetrist here you need at least a BA/BS in physics. But the title of the job is not physicits but dosimetrist.

Did you know that Einstein didn't officially have his PhD when he published relativity and other stuff in 1905?

In fact the work which won him the Nobel prize is the work done before he had a PhD. Way to go Al!

Pete
 P: 23 A dosimetrist here is a specialist technician. Technicians are actualy known as MTO's, medical technical officers. You dont actaully need a BSc to be a MTO (although it helps); you can begin as an ATO (assisstant technical officer) and progress to MTO through experience. Jonathan
 P: 1 I am an Indian Student interested in pursuing my Masters in Medical Physics.Am a novice to this field since my undergraduation was in the field of computer science.Can anyone tell me the groundwork I should be doing to be on par with the science students?
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 Quote by pmb Thanks. That's awesome! I just joined. Tell me - is it possible to get in to the medical physics field with just a BA? Pete
It isn't easy to get a medical physics related job with a Bachelor's level degree. There just isn't very much demand for it aside from in the dosimetry and radiation therapy technician areas

Board certification in a medical physics field (diagnostic, therapy, nuclear medicine) by either the American Board of Radiology or American College of Medical Physics currently requires a minimum of a Master's degree in one of the physical sciences (preferably Physics or some related Engineering discipline) and 3 years of experience in the field. In the near future it will also require completion of a CAMPEP accredited medical physics residency program. Then you will be able to call yourself a medical physicist. As of 2001, certifications by either board have a 10 year limit, during which you are expected to obtain a certain number of continuing education credits of various forms in order to maintain certification.

There are similar requirements to become board certified to call yourself a health physicist too.
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 Quote by Tiro I am an Indian Student interested in pursuing my Masters in Medical Physics.Am a novice to this field since my undergraduation was in the field of computer science.Can anyone tell me the groundwork I should be doing to be on par with the science students?
you should at least have most of the physics courses taken at the undergraduate level (mechanics, EM, thermo, modern physics, nuclear physics). You will need a good background in EM and circuitry. Plenty of math. Calculus (at least 2 years), linear algebra, statistics, differential equations.

Medical physicists typically end up being something of a jack of all trades, so they need to know a little bit about everything, and be able to quickly learn how to use lots of things.

That is my perspective on some of the things you will need.
 P: 1 what are my chances of getting into a medical phyics masters program with a BS in Physics and Math minor???
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 Quote by jonnylane Having been an occasional member of this forum for a while, I find myself dissapointed by the lack of discussion about medical physics. Am I the only person on the forum interested? Does anyone want to know more about medical physics as a career?
hey i'm interested in possibly pursuing a career in medical physics.... but was wondering about a few things:
1. what jobs are available for someone with a masters in medical physics? (just name a few)
2. what are the actual job titles that i would be researching?
3. what are some schools around the north east where i can study?
4. do i have to be licensed/certified to work in NJ?

anyone that can help, it is greatly appreciated
thanks michael
PF Gold
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 Quote by mikemarino87 hey i'm interested in possibly pursuing a career in medical physics.... but was wondering about a few things: 1. what jobs are available for someone with a masters in medical physics? (just name a few) 2. what are the actual job titles that i would be researching? 3. what are some schools around the north east where i can study? 4. do i have to be licensed/certified to work in NJ? anyone that can help, it is greatly appreciated thanks michael
I used to work for an ophthalmic practice as a network administrator, and for some reason the doctors managing the practice took the attitude that if they had a problem with something that was high-tech (or beyond them anyway) they would pass it off to me. There are a lot of really pricey non-invasive surgical procedures that are done with lasers and when those lasers would start to drift out of calibration, sometimes they would ask me to re-calibrate them instead of getting a pro to come up from Boston. In the case of the big surgical lasers used for retinal procedures, I would just perform checks on the power draw, cycle time, etc. In the case of the smaller lasers that were used to zap stuff in the anterior portion of the eye, I would calibrate the converging aiming beams and ensure that the laser's power was directed at the aim-point. I'd make a target out of copy paper to track the calibration. Every actuation of the laser (at high enough power levels) resulted in a "snap" and a neat little hole in the target.

There are valuable positions in the medical field for engineers/technicians. You have to do some research to figure out where you might want to work. I gave my examples because laser surgery is a really high-billing field in ophthalmology and if the lasers crap out, the doctors running the practice freak out. They don't mind paying you  to fix the machines, because they are losing much more in receivables if they don't have their machines. Just a thought.

Edit: If you want to do this kind of stuff full-time, you'll have to hook up with the companies that manufacture and/or service surgical lasers, get very equipment-dependent training, and be prepared to be deployed (within reason) anywhere there is equipment that is malfunctioning. Working in support of ophthalmic surgery is a pretty secure field and pretty high-paying, in large part because maintaining a patient's vision is seen (by the insurance companies and by the general populace) as a very high priority.
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 Quote by mikemarino87 1. what jobs are available for someone with a masters in medical physics? (just name a few) 2. what are the actual job titles that i would be researching? 3. what are some schools around the north east where i can study? 4. do i have to be licensed/certified to work in NJ?
1. There are lots of jobs available in medical physics to qualified personnel. Generally speaking a master's degree is the minimum needed to get into the field these days. Ideally, you want a Ph.D. from a CAMPEP-accredited program followed by a CAMPEP-accredited residency to be competative for the most desirable jobs. There is some talk about moving towards a "Doctor of Medical Physics" degree, but to my knowledge it has not yet been invoked.

2. The job title is "medical physicist."

4. Certification requirements vary and even if you don not require certification now, there is a good chance this could change of the next few years (ie. while you're getting your degree) so it's best to aim for certification with an organisation like the American Board of Radiology (ABR).
 P: 1 Does anyone here know anything about transitioning into medical physics from nuclear physics? I am finishing a PhD in experimental nuclear physics and recently became very interested in medical physics, specifically radiation oncology.
 P: 4 I'm currently in my third year of undergrad in the US looking to go on to grad school, but I'm not exactly sure what direction to go in. I've read this entire thread and found it very interesting. Is there a place to read articles about medical physics so that I could get a better idea of what medical physics entails? Also, I looked for programs in the US and noticed that some are CAMPEP accredited and others aren't. If I go to a program that's not accredited will I not be able to find a job after I graduate?
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 Quote by jonnylane Having been an occasional member of this forum for a while, I find myself dissapointed by the lack of discussion about medical physics. It really is an exciting field (I would say that...) and is usually totally shadowed by all of the other applications to physics. Space science and astronomy are great, but medical phyiscs is very down to earth (forgive the pun) subject, and is a fascinating and rewarding career path. I personally work in Radiotherapy, but many other applications are available, and there is much research to be done in this importnat and fast expanding field. Am I the only person on the forum interested? Does anyone want to know more about medical physics as a career?
hello sir,
i am c.p.bhatt, from india also working as medical physicist.
medical physics is a challenging field.
radiation treatment is name and game of precise and accuracy.
so medical physics has a important role in radiation treatment.
as this field is depending on advance treatment procedure so we also have to do more work on this so that we can be confident on our work.
nice to see you in this.
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 Quote by lars30 Does anyone here know anything about transitioning into medical physics from nuclear physics? I am finishing a PhD in experimental nuclear physics and recently became very interested in medical physics, specifically radiation oncology.
One of my colleagues did an M.Sc. in nuclear physics before pursuing a Ph.D. in medical physics and did quite well with the transition. These days it's becomming more and more difficult to get into the field if you don't have a graduate education that's specific to medical physics. The physics isn't so far different as is the context of application. I know of multiple cases where people with PhDs in other areas of physics have done a 2 year M.Sc. and then moved into residency positions. In some cases it is possible to get directly into a residency, but the bottom line is you are less competative compared to those with graduate degrees in medical physics.

 Quote by alexofander I'm currently in my third year of undergrad in the US looking to go on to grad school, but I'm not exactly sure what direction to go in. I've read this entire thread and found it very interesting. Is there a place to read articles about medical physics so that I could get a better idea of what medical physics entails? Also, I looked for programs in the US and noticed that some are CAMPEP accredited and others aren't. If I go to a program that's not accredited will I not be able to find a job after I graduate?
You might want to check out:
http://medicalphysicsweb.org/cws/home

With respect to CAMPEP accreditation, there is a move to make it so that in the near future you will need to come through a CAMPEP program in order to write your board exams. I don't know when or if this is going to come into effect. Essentially coming from a CAMPEP program makes you that much more competative in residency/job hunting, but you can still get a job if you graduate from a non-accredited program. Different employers place different weights on this.
 P: 28 So am I correct in this order of the education track for medical physics? BS MS/PhD 2-year residency Employment Also, does lack of college level chem or bio put a medical physics grad applicant at a significant disadvantage? I have a BS in physics but did not take any chem/bio in college. And finally, I've read that this is a field that is fairly reliable for employment. Will most new medical physicists have to relocate, or is there a decent chance that you could find employment in this field in your given area (assuming you live in a major city)?