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Do I stand a chance at MSc in Med Phys/Health Phys?

  1. Nov 4, 2009 #1
    Hi everyone,

    I'm currently doing an undergrad degree in radiation therapy in Canada. Here in Canada dosimetry and therapy are taught together and that's when I became interested in medical physics. I'm thinking about applying to master's programs in medical physics or health physics (can you be a medical physicist with a degree in health physics?) in the States this year. I understand that this field can get very competitive and compare to other physics graduates I have a much weaker background. Can someone give me some advices please?

    Here're some of the relevant courses that I have (one semester each):

    -1st year general physics
    -1 intro physics to medical radiation science (Wave motion, electricity and magnetism, heat, radioactivity and radiation interaction, absorption and emission of light)
    -1 radiation therapy physics with lab (dosimetry)
    -1 medical physics (course description: Radioactivity and radiation phenomenology: interaction of radiations with matter, dosimetry, radiation in medicine, biological effects, radiation levels and regulations, radiation protection.)

    -first year calculus and chemistry/labs
    -full year biology with labs
    -2 radiation biology & protection
    -full year treatment planning
    -2 stats
    -1 CT, 1 MRI
    -full year radiation oncology
    -4 courses in anatomy/physiology, 2 of them are imaging related
    -a few other courses in imaging (modalities, processing, etc)

    GPA of last 2 years of full time study: A-
    cGPA: A-

    Anyone care to give me some advices?

    Thanks in advance!

    ps: I understand that some of you may think I might not stand a chance at all since radiation therapy in the States is mainly an associate of science program & isn't very physics related. However Canadian therapists are also dosimetrists and they have a much bigger scope of practice than American therapists (Ontario specialist therapists can prescribe) thus the educational requirement is actually very different. The physics we learn are taught by physicists/share with the undergrad medical physics program. I might stay back for a year and take a few more physics/math courses if needed.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2009 #2


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    You're probably not going to like what I have to say on the issue.

    Topic-wise the materal you've listed isn't too different from what's required material in a CAMPEP medical physics program. The difference is the depth of coverage. Medical physics programs are graduate physics programs and essentially require a degree in physics or engineering for admission. An RT degree by itself does not give you sufficient background for graduate-level research in physics.

    That being said, RT programs are evolving. They used to be 2 year diploma programs, but some schools have integrated them with university programs to satisfy the requirements for a degree - which it the case with your program. I believe some schools are even offering master's degrees in RT.

    You don't have to look too deeply into the crystal ball to see the potential for a turf war here.
  4. Nov 4, 2009 #3

    I totally understand, and that's why I wanted to stay back a year to study some more physics/math. We do share some of our physics with medical physics students, and I can feel that I have a weaker base.

    Anyway I was just wondering whether I should apply to health physics first. The reason I asked this is because 1 of the former grad went on to do his master's in health physics now. If I could take some more courses in physics/math and then do my master's in health physics, am I able to become a medical physicist or do a PhD in medical physics then?

    ps: I don't know if you are talking about the States or Canada. But in Canada RT is actually quite different. It used to be 3 year cancer center postgrad programs that usually require at least a full year of university science courses, whereas in the States it's pretty much all community college programs. In Canada most of the RT schools are university based & one university is offering it as a BSPhysics (and I believe Canadian therapists also have a much greater scope than American dosimetrists/therapists in terms of both physics & oncology). In the US therapists learn almost no physics since dosimetry is separate from therapy.

    I guess what I'm saying is that at least I have some background in this area and I really hope that with the help from the additional physics courses that I might take I can get a better understanding at the theory & application of radiation physics.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2009
  5. Nov 4, 2009 #4
    Do you have any suggestions for undergrad physics or math topics that can help me to build a better foundation?

    Thanks a lot!
  6. Nov 5, 2009 #5
    grab one of those "Mathematics for Physicists" and study pretty much everything that is there.

    here are some recommended book:

    ^ this is usually taught in a "Mathematics for Physicists" course so you should take that. But before you take it, you most likely want to study it on your own.

    if you wish to take further mathematics course, i would say an introductory course in Differential Equations is a must.

    Furthermore, you can explore more topic of this book in Mathematical courses such as
    Linear Algebra (Applied)
    Complex Analysis (Applied)
    Advanced Calculus
    Partial Differential Equations (Applied)
    i would recommend you to take course from top to bottom (i.e. you you have time).
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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