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Any Medical Dosimetrist in here by chance?

  1. Aug 18, 2007 #1
    Is anyone in here or knows a Medical Dosimetrist by chance?

    I just like to ask your opinion on the quality of the work and any comments as a past student and current worker that you may have.

    I will be applying to a Medical Dosimetry program next year, thanks!

    ... the basic questions ...

    How hard were your studies?

    Do you find your work fulfilling?

    Salary potential right out of school?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 20, 2007 #2
    I work as a heath physicist, so part of my duties involve dosimetry (as well as a host of otehr functions). To answer your questions, my background was math/physics, so i didn't get the degree in health physics. However, I can say that physics and math were harder than it would have been for straight health physics. The salary potential is dependent on whether you get work at a hospital, what type of work you're doing, etc. Working under a medical phsyicist to determine appropriate treatment plans for cancer patients can be vaulable, especially if you plan to pursue a medical physics degree later. also, most of the dosimetry in the real world is computerized, with the exception of dose reconstruction, which is usually handled by health physicist rather than dosimetrists.
  4. Aug 20, 2007 #3
    thanks for your reply. what are the biggest difference b/w math/physics vs health physics?

    are you by chance considering a PhD in Medical Physics?
  5. Aug 21, 2007 #4
    With applied health physics you rarely use any calculus, differential equations, etc. The extent of math used is algebraic manipulation of exponential and logarithmic equations. This is all true unless you do research, of course. As for the physics, I have yet to use most physics principles in my job. It's unnecessary for me to know why yttrium-90 is a pure beta emitter and cesium-137 is a mixed beta/gamma emitter, only that I know this is the case. In physics, you pretty much need to know the "why". Hoever, in physics, you don't really need to know biology and cellular function (except in biophysics).

    Currently I'm in a nuclear engineering masters program. I'm a bit to old and financially committed to other things to pursue a PhD in anything.
  6. Aug 27, 2007 #5
    Wow. Daveb and Rocophysis: thanks for this thread and your contributions. I'm in my Junior year pursuing my undergrad physics degree. No one else in my classes are planning on anything in the health field, let alone medical physics/medical dosimetry. My physics department and instructors aren't much of a resource (and don't show much support, either) for this field. Basically, I am now lying to them that I am planning on grad school just to earn enough respect from them to be taken seriously. It seems in my school that unless students are planning on grad school or research, they are not really shown much support by many of our professors.

    I've been lurking around the board for a while now, but my plan (since reentering school) has also been to become a medical dosimetrist. I'm leaving the door open, so to speak, for grad school for medical physics. However, I also am a bit too old and have some real world factors that may preclude the PhD path. I do plan, however, to further my own education whether it be formally or otherwise.

    In addition to the standard physics curriculum I've been advised to take a basic anatomy/physiology class (completed) and biochemistry class (I've completed general chemistry and organic chemistry, but plan to take bio within the next year). Any other advice?
  7. Aug 27, 2007 #6
    you definitely need to take Anatomy/Physiology & Chemistry; however, Biochemistry isn't a pre-req where i'm applying to

    i'm taking Organic Chemistry for the hell of it tho, i doubt anything one-step up the pre-req wil hurt
  8. Aug 27, 2007 #7
    I don't know your situation, but there are online Health Physics graduate degrees available. Oregon State has a good program from what I've been told. I know Georgia Tech and Purdue had online programs as well, but was told that they are no longer going to continue that. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of programs available for normal grad school, let alone online.
  9. Aug 27, 2007 #8
    i'm very lucky that MD Anderson has a program, i prefer not to do online classes.

    so what caught your interest in Medical Dosimetry?
  10. Aug 27, 2007 #9
    Well, I found out about it the hard way: I had to undergo radiation therapy for Stage II testicular cancer in 2002. While on the table, I started blabbing with my therapists. Lo and behold, I realized that I needed to give a little back to the community that helped me in my time of need. So there you go! One dosimetrist on the way!

    What about you?
  11. Aug 28, 2007 #10
    I'm not a medical dosimetrist, I'm a health physicist. I know about medical dosimetry and what it entails because it's part of my job, but I am unfamiliar with the specifics of medical dosimetry (such as methodologies, other than it's computerized). I'm taking a medical physics class for my graduate degree this fall so I'll learn quite a bit more about it then.
  12. Aug 28, 2007 #11
    I'm glad to see that you are still around and hopefully everything is ok now. I found out about Dosimetry through my teacher and a recruiter from MDA. I also volunteered there for a semester, I'm bummed that I "thought" I was going to be able to work from Fri-Sun (I already work Mon/Wed) and so I told the volunteer coordinator that I couldn't do it this semester ... I will probably volunteer at my Mom's hospital though, it's always a plus to give back.
  13. Nov 1, 2008 #12
    I am a medical dosimetrist that was searching for dosimetry forums and ended up here. Is this thread totally dead at this point?
  14. Nov 2, 2008 #13


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    Well, since it's been bumped I should probably note the following:

    The most common path to becoming a certified medical dosimetrist is first being trained as a radiation therapist and then gaining some exeperience at that level. Then through further training (about a year including practical training rosters) you can become a dosimetrist. Technically you don't need a university degree for this field. The RT program is a community college level thing (although some universities are making it into a degree).

    Dosimetry is a good career. It pays well. It's a valuable service. And it's a reasonably low stress position that you can leave at 5:00 pm. There's a certain art to it as well, that I'm not sure we'll ever be able to mimic computationally.

    I would stay away from online degrees in health or medical physics. You'd have a hard time convincing me to hire you if you've never used an ion chamber.
  15. Nov 2, 2008 #14
    I am a Medical Dosimetrist and I can tell you that this job is NOT! low stress. As a dosimetrist, you are the first line of defense (i.e. Crisis Central)...the Docs call you when they can't make sense out of the electronic charts, the therapists are forever calling you about time stamps and dose point corrections, and the physicists call because they saw something in the chart checks.

    Yes, you could conceivably get into a Dosimetry program without a bachelors degree. But the reality is that the dosimetry program slots are so competitive that your application won't stand out without a bachelors degree, so I wouldn't put my eggs in that basket. (The program I went to had 2 openings and more than 30 applications.) Of course, if you are a therapists that wants to become a dosimetrist, you can still do on-job-training with a certified Medical Physicist - provided you are able to find a physicist that thinks enough of you to take you on as a student. It has also become more difficult to get your CMD certification through OJT as the Medical Dosimetry Certification Board moves this relatively young career field toward stricter guidelines.
  16. Aug 31, 2010 #15
    Hi all,

    Just wanted to re-bump this thread to try and see if there are any dosimetrists still around onthe forums who could possibly give me a bit of advice on moving across from England to the States to become a CMD (I currently have 5 years experience as a Dosimetirst in the UK)

  17. Feb 20, 2011 #16
    I was wondering if I can get any input on my situation. I am interested in pursuing a masters degree in Medical Physics or in Dosimetry, but am having trouble finding a school that is willing to accept a lower than 3.0 GPA for a bachelors degree ( I came close at 2.9). I have since attended Navy Nuclear Power school and graduated with a 3.66 GPA and am currently enrolled in a Radiation Therapy program holding a 4.0 GPA, and work as an engineer for a major company. It seems as if schools are only looking at my undergraduate GPA and discounting everything I've done since then (I graduated in 2000 and played a varsity sport all 4 years which didn't help study time :) ). Anyone have any advice for me on how to get into a medical physics or dosimetry program? I love the knowledge from my current courses but am pretty sure that therapy isn't where I want to be.
  18. May 15, 2011 #17
    What is the difference between medical and health physics? According to what I've seen, medical physics is more concerned with the treatment of patients. Health physics is concerned with the protection of individuals against radiation. I'm a math major, physics minor senior. I'm wondering how difficult those programs are. If my descriptions are correct, I would probably lean more towards Health Physics.
  19. May 15, 2011 #18


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    I think you have the basic idea. Health physics generally refers to the science and work involved with radiation protection. Their work generally involved a lot of 'compliance with regulations' type work. They will set up and maintain personal dosimetry monitoring programs in nuclear facilities, investigate incidents where people are irradiated, work with architects to ensure adequate shielding is incorporated into nuclear facilities.

    Medical physicists can often end up doing these things too - particularly in hospitals that house radiation treatment modalities - as many of them are co-tasked as radiation safety officers. Primarily though, about 80% of medical physicists specialize in radiation therapy. Their clinical responsibilities involve calibration and quality assurance work on linear accelerators, consulting in the treatment planning and delivery process - both in the form of regular checks of plans and assisting with unique or problematic cases, commissioning and administration of treatment planning systems, new treatment machines, and new treatment approaches, clinical investigations, and depending on their positions they will take on academic responsibilities including research and teaching.

    It's hard to make any definitive statements on difficulty, although from my experience health physics work tends to be a lot less academic. (To be fair, some clinical medical physics positions have very little academic work to them as well.) Accredited medical physics programs are very competative to get into these days.
  20. May 15, 2011 #19
    It seems like the function of health physics would be a part of safety engineering. The name implies something more broad, not just with radiation protection.

    What is the starting salary for both? I have found only a few Health Physics programs. It seems I am lacking Intermediate Electromagnetic Theory as a prerequisite. I have taken Classical Mechanics, Modern Physics, Quantum Mechanics, and I just finished Thermal Physics.
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