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BME or medical physics

  1. Apr 10, 2008 #1
    I need some opinions... I am really struggling on deciding what type of education I would like to pursue next year (my undergrad is in physics):

    I have offers from two schools (waiting on hearing back from 3 others; so lets assume these are the only two offers I am going to get).

    One offer is in Biomedical Engineering, PhD, (at a school with a good hospital), at a school which would NOT require me to relocate.

    The other offer is for a MS (terminal) in Medical Physics (at a school with a VERY good hospital). Which would require a pretty good relocation.

    The information that I guess I am looking for are employment and starting salary figures. While the salary is obviously not the root of my interest, it is essentially, now, a factor. I have always had my heart set on Medical Physics, and now i suppose I am looking for reassurance that this is a very good field to go into.

    Any opinions/comments are welcome!!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 12, 2008 #2
    Ok, how about this:

    Cleveland State Medical physics or University of Cincinnati Biomedical Engineering?

    Which and why?
  4. Apr 12, 2008 #3
    If you've had your heart set on medical physics, what is it about biomedical engineering that makes you consider changing?

    When I think about these two areas, I see MedPhys as mostly working in the treatment of cancer (assisting with treatment planning, QA for the machines), but could also be working in imaging or things related to electrical activity of the brain or heart for example. I see BME as working on medical devices like those used by MedPhys and also things like prosthetics. What is it you want to do?

    Salary wise, I would wager that you could top out a lot higher in MedPhys than BME. I believe its similar with starting salary too but with no numbers to back it up, thats just my impression.

    Employment wise I never find too many "entry level" MedPhys jobs (if someone knows of a good place to look, send me a PM ;) ). Most residency programs I've found are PhD only, a few allow Masters to apply.
  5. Apr 14, 2008 #4

    Andy Resnick

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    Both programs are very good. I suspect the CSU program is designed to get you out the door with a highly specific job, while the BME program is designed to set you up for a more options (and more uncertainty).
  6. Apr 26, 2008 #5
    As far as 'what I want to do', I am equally split. I am (unfortunately) very interested in EVERYTHING... I would honestly be equally happy with eigther as a career. I just want to make sure that after years of graduate school, that I will have job opportunities afterwords!

    Pay is somewhat important, obviously, but, is probably not a huge deciding factor; especially when compared to job opportunities... unless the pay difference is drastic, which I assume that it may not be (or will not be in the future). I have caught wind that MedPhys is beginning to be saturated with graduating students without new job openings.
  7. Apr 26, 2008 #6
    Actually, there are plenty of job openings in medical physics. what's lacking are applicants with sufficient clinical experience to fill them. Part of the problem is that many graduate programs offer little or not enough exposure to the clinical side of things. Sure, you do research, but clinical medical physics is a lot different than research. Long gone are the days where you could finish a degree doing research and then get OJT (on the job training) to work as a medical physicist.

    If you're considering a medical physics career, you should try to get yourself into a CAMPEP accredited graduate program followed by a CAMPEP accredited residency. The combination of the two will give you all the clinical experience you need to take the board exam and confidently step into a job knowing (or thinking you know anyway) what you're doing.
  8. Apr 27, 2008 #7
    I don't know if this is really the case. I talked to a few students last summer that were finishing up their degrees at a CAMPEP approved program with a very strong clinical component that were only getting one interview out of a great number of positions that they applied to. These were highly qualified graduates at an accredited program. The competition for these jobs is extremely high. There also seems to be problems with funding for medical physics graduate students.
  9. May 21, 2008 #8
    This is what I was affraid of... it seems like the market has somewhat been saturated. Further, I don't mind changing location, but moving to the other side of the US is nearly out of the picture, and that seems to also be the case that jobs do not give grads the slightest opportunity to choose location.

    Secondly, I am heavily concerned about going to a non accredidated (CAMPEP) school... or maybe I shouldn't be... can anyone shed any light on that?
  10. May 22, 2008 #9
    Don't even bother with a non-campep accredited Med Phys program.

    The market is messed up, by the way; there's a small number of people screaming bloody murder for medical physicists, a large number of people who want to become medical physicists, and precious few ways to become one (many residencies add one new student a year). Thus the competition is fierce to get in the game, but at the moment you should find a job once there. On the other hand, I highly suspect we'll see even the end market saturate over the next decade.

    Lastly, don't go into medical physics without a thorough understanding of what you'll be doing. Those In Charge decided in the 80's that medical physicists wouldn't be considered providers under medicare, and many medical physicists have felt like they've been increasingly relegated to the level of (highly paid) technician ever since, with less and less involvement in patient care.

    Research, research, research! (If you haven't already)
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