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Physics Choice of Medical Physics MS Programs

  1. May 4, 2012 #1
    Good morning,

    I have a choice to make between MS programs in Medical Physics this Fall: Wayne State vs the University at Buffalo. Are there some graduates from these programs out there who might offer some perspective on one over the other? Buffalo ranks higher for science in general, but Wayne State appears to have the longer history/experience in this specific field and in training of clinical medical physicists (and then again Roswell Park is the oldest cancer treatment facility in the US). How bad is the Detroit metro region, really?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 4, 2012 #2


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    I'm not personally familiar with either program, but I can tell you a few things that I would look for in a medical physics program.

    1. CAMPEP accreditation. I think both of those programs are accredited - so check.

    2. Some people disagree with me on this, but I feel that the program should have a stong emphasis on physics - not just completing barely enough coursework for you to pass your board exams.

    3. Research projects that you personally find interesting. Talk with potential supervisors. Look at projects current and past students have done.

    4. Faculty with protected teaching time. Medical physicists tend to be extremely busy with clinical responsibilities. I can count on my hand the number of days in the last year that I've left work at the end of the clinical day.

    5. Alumni that have gone on to places you would like to go. Are most of the students geting residency placements? Where?

    6. Hands-on practical experience. Are there opportunities for part-time QA work? (This also applies to point 7.) Are you limited to lab experience? How integrated are students into the clinical setting? More practical experience is better. Also, what equpment will you be exposed to and how modern is it?

    7. Financial support. Not all medical physics programs come with complete or guaranteed stipends. So you may end up having to foot some of the bill yourself. Think seriously about the support each program offers and don't count on immediately finding a winfall of a permanent medical physics position on graduation that will allow you to pay off debt.
  4. May 7, 2012 #3
    Thanks Choppy.

    Yes, Buffalo and Wayne State are accredited. I have settled on Buffalo mostly, but wanted to see if any one on the forums had anything to say. I am comfortable with the prospects of practical experience in the Buffalo program. I have been in communication with the Director and our discussions seem to reveal a good overall program: fundamental physics of imaging and therapy with practical experience every semester. I haven't spoken with students yet, I'll make a better effort. I also don't know about protected teaching time, which I will follow up on. Thanks again.
  5. May 8, 2012 #4

    Andy Resnick

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    Choppy's comments are spot-on. FWIW, we are admitting our first students under CAMPEP accreditation this fall, and these issues are *exactly* what we have been discussing.
  6. May 10, 2012 #5
    That would be Cleveland State, then. I had fixed my list back in September or so; I don't think that one was on the CAMPEP list as of yet.

    By way of a little more background, I am a MEMS engineer and materials science researcher who has been considering the medical physics profession for some time. I got to know the Med Phys staff at my local regional hospital pretty well and had some good experiences (I started shadowing them in 2008 and still go in on occasion). I have ten years of experience in my present endeavors and am now moving on to the next step.

    I refreshed my GRE last year and went for it. I was fairly concerned about the 2012/2014 initiatives so I applied to 17 programs, all MS. I pre-screened Columbia, UCLA, Wisconsin, and
    Chicago before they could pre-screen me. I also clipped off the last four by chronological deadline because some acceptances already appeared before those deadlines. I just wanted to get into one accredited program, and get my one shot at passing ABR I next year. As it turns out I had a selection of schools, which I am thankful for.

    Thanks for the feedback, I feel more comfortable with my decision.
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