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Programs Degree to pursue if interested in imaging

  1. Jul 10, 2016 #1
    I'm a senior physics major, and I'm starting to look at graduate programs, and I'm very much interested in imaging as this is what I've been doing for the last 2 years. I'm really interested in medical imaging, but my concern is saturation in the field of medical physics. Would pursuing a graduate degree in something like EE or physics optics be better as far as career opportunities go?
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  3. Jul 11, 2016 #2
    I did EE in undergraduate and read quite a bit of image processing papers with some having medical applications.

    EE is nice because you can take the DSP classes that will build up a foundation to take advanced image processing classes.

    You could go at it from the EE/Computer science side if you're interested in algorithms and implementation of those algorithms (edge mapping, segmentation).

    I would only do physics optics if you're interested in making the physical image sensors or lenses.
  4. Jul 11, 2016 #3

    Dr Transport

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  5. Jul 11, 2016 #4


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    You might want to look at medical physics graduate programs that have strong diagnostic imaging or MRI programs. Career opportunities is clinical medical physics are still generally better than those in pure academia.
  6. Jul 11, 2016 #5
    How difficult would it be to find a job in medical imaging though? I believe that medical physics is easier to get into than academia, but how much better?
  7. Jul 12, 2016 #6


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    It's tough to give a quantitative response on this. I'm a radiation oncology physicist, not an imaging guy so I don't really keep a close eye on the imaging market.

    For crude numbers, the academic job outlook is dictated by the fact that the typical professor will train about 10 PhDs over the course of his or her career, therefore the probability of obtaining an academic job is about 1/10.

    With expertise in medical imaging your other directly relevant options are clinical work (working in hospitals maintaining optimal operation of imaging equipment or commissioning new equipment) or commercial work (product research and development, and then tangential stuff like training, sales, support). These aren't necessarily mutually exclusive either, which makes it a little complicated. Lots of clinical positions come with academic appointments for example - you won't be a full professor in the conventional sense, but you could have time for research and maybe some teaching responsibilities.

    In the clinical arena, if you get a graduate degree in medical physics, current statistics suggest a 50% chance of getting matched into a residency. (There's no breakdown by specialty that I know of, but for a ballpark I would guess about 80% of the available positions are in therapy.) On top of that there are also a handful of residency programs that do not participate in the matching process - so your outlook is probably a little better than these numbers suggest.
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