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Are there transferable skills obtained with a medical physics M.Sc.?

  1. Sep 3, 2014 #1
    Hello,

    I was hoping for some input from anyone with any advice. I'm happily studying for my masters degree in medical physics at a campep accredited university, but I have a reasonable stress when it comes to the future.

    Can anyone comment on other avenues one could pursue with a masters degree in medical physics? I imagine teaching, but I wouldn't want to teach high school. Any comments or personal stories would be greatly appreciated.

    As anyone in medical physics knows, the field is not booming as it once was 10 years ago and is quite saturated at the moment. From a particularly cynical prof, we were pretty much told our chances were near zero of obtaining clinical employment or work in industry without a residency, and chances of getting a residency are extremely small without a PhD (which I did not intend to pursue due to a massive student debt).
    For this reason, a bit of a back up plan would be comforting!

    Thanks!
    Rick
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 3, 2014 #2

    Choppy

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    1. Don' t automatically count yourself out with respect to residencies. It's true that the PhD graduates are generally more competitive - especially for the residency-postdoc hybrid positions. And the numbers are, last I heard, are in the ballpark of ~100 residencies for ~250 graduates. But I know that the AAPM is well-aware of this issue and is making efforts to expand the number of accredited residencies with specific emphasis on MSc graduates. I personally know three MSc's who've made their way through residencies over the last 5 years or so, it's not impossible.

    2. Health physics and radiation safety officer positions. I know a few MSc graduates who have gone this route and seem quite happy with it.

    3. Look to the major vendors. Companies like Varian will hire physicists to help out with training, technical support (usually not the front lines, but the go-to guys for when the service guys can't figure something out), technical sales, and even project management.

    4. Look to the minor vendors. If you have a chance to attend a major conference like AAPM or ASTRO or RSNA, you'll see a lot of smaller companies that cater to niche markets: supplying QA devices, immobilization devices, brachytherapy applicators, radiochromic film, etc. These companies will hire physics graduates for the same reason that the larger ones will.

    5. I suppose this may be program-specific, but keep an open mind to the other branches of medical physics outside of radiation oncology physics: MRI, diagnostic imaging, and nuclear medicine. While these positions tend to make up a smaller portion of medical physics, they aren't completely negligible. I know there are efforts in Canada to increase the number of clinical imaging physicists in response to Health Canada's safety code 35 and for good reason: properly functioning imaging equipment reduces false positives and false negatives and ultimately reduces costs to the healthcare system. I don't know if similar efforts are underway in the US, but I would imagine so through the Image Smartly and Image Gently campaigns.

    I hope that helps.
     
  4. Sep 3, 2014 #3
    Thanks Choppy, as always your answer is very helpful and informative. Much appreciated.
     
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