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Programs Areas of research in Medical Physics

  • Thread starter Lawrencel2
  • Start date
Hello everyone,

I have an upcoming interview with 3 great CAMPEP accredited Medical Physics PhD programs soon. I have went through my BS and MS in physics, with a few courses in Medical Physics (MRI/MRS, Radiation measurement labs, and currently taking Radiation Oncology Undergraduate course) and some relevant research in the field.

While I think academically I am prepared, I am still fairly uncertain which area of research I intend to work in.. I know I will need to discuss my plans during the interview, but in all honesty, I have no clue what area interests me most. However, I can certainly rule out nuclear medicine as I dont seem to really like it.

During the interview, should I have read through their current research, or will simply knowing a brief description of their work be sufficient?
Also, which area of research tends to be the best for career opportunities? I am stuck between MR and Rad Therapy.
If any of you can provide some feedback, that would be wonderful.


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As far as the admission interview goes, I don't think anyone is going to expect that you will have read in-depth the papers of every professor in the department. You should have a good idea of what they're working on though, and no one should have to tell you to read up as much as you can on the research that you find interesting. Try to have good answers to questions like: Why do you want to do your PhD with THIS program? What research is going on in the department that you find interesting and why?

EDIT: if you don't know what you find interesting (other than a general interest in the area as a whole), this is a good time to be doing some background and exploratory reading. Starting with papers that professors at these programs have worked on is good. You can also browse journals like Medical Physics and Physics in Medicine and Biology for recent review articles.

Radiation therapy is about 80% of the field of medical physics these days. That's because it tends to have a lot more clinical demand. MRI medical physicists tend to be a lot more academically oriented in my experience, and so there is not as much clinical demand for them currently. That said, we're starting to see a number of hybrid linac-MR machines coming online and so I suspect there will be a lot of growth in the coming years for those who bring MR-related skill sets into the clinic. Over the past decade or so we've also seen integration of MRI into the radiation therapy treatment planning process: both with MR-based simulation and the use of techniques that visualize physiological processes to help define target volumes and I suspect this is going to progress towards a standard of care.

On the therapy side of things I'm starting to see a lot of interest in areas like process engineering, data mining and outcomes research, the use of nanoparticles of radiation research. There is also a lot of ongoing research in areas like image guidance (again linac-MR, but also cone-beam CT-based guidance).
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