Advisable/Possible to get a Master's in Physics during MedPhys PhD?

  • #1
Is it advisable or possible to get a Master's in physics or astrophysics while doing a PhD in medical physics? I chose to pursue a medical physics PhD over physics. I love the rigorous coursework of physics, however, and my medical physics program is separate from the physics program and is strongly focused on medical physics as a standalone subject as opposed to a subfield of applied physics.

Has anyone heard of or know anyone that's done it concurrently? In your opinion, would it even be advisable if it can be done? I can always try to get it after my PhD, but if I can get it done during it it'd save a few years. The practical reason is so that I can be more competitive for CC level teaching/adjunct positions in case I have medical physics residency matching difficulties.
 

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  • #2
Choppy
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Generally I would say this is not advisable, if it is possible (which in most cases it probably is not).

Not sure about how your program is set up, but in my experience (which is with Canadian programs) medical physics PhD students will often take courses through the physics department, even if the PhD program doesn't technically fall under its umbrella. Sometimes it's mandatory. Sometimes, it's optional. In the latter case, if you're qualified and your committee is okay with it, you can take any course you're interested in. So you should be able to get in a few core physics courses regardless.

One issue that you'll run into though is that the didactic coursework tends to be rather demanding, just because of the sheer volume. On top of that, you've got your research project to worry about. And committee meetings, comprehensive exam, candidacy exam, conferences, papers, etc. And most PhD students will likely have some kind of clinical QA work as well. So that doesn't leave much time to seriously pursue something else academic.

And if not getting a residency is your primary motivation for considering this, it's important to bear in mind that the probability of getting a residency is a lot higher for a medical physics PhD than is the probability of obtaining an academic teaching position. So you'd be a lot better off putting that extra time into your research project, or gaining clinical experience. And even if you don't get the residency, you have other options. Lots of places still hire junior medical physicists (depending on where you are), there are post-doctoral research positions, positions with the major and minor vendors, radiation safety positions, etc.
 
  • #3
And if not getting a residency is your primary motivation for considering this, it's important to bear in mind that the probability of getting a residency is a lot higher for a medical physics PhD than is the probability of obtaining an academic teaching position. So you'd be a lot better off putting that extra time into your research project, or gaining clinical experience. And even if you don't get the residency, you have other options. Lots of places still hire junior medical physicists (depending on where you are), there are post-doctoral research positions, positions with the major and minor vendors, radiation safety positions, etc.
Ah, I did forget about vendors and post-docs. I know that CAMPEP residencies are pretty competitive, so I was developing contingency plans just in case. I'm starting the program this Fall so this is a bit premature, but developing those plans now is better than flailing around later.
 

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