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Physics Help Concerns about medical physics programPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 4:10 pm

  1. Oct 2, 2009 #1
    Help!!!Concerns about medical physics programPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 4:10 pm

    I'm an undergraduate who wants to continue my study in medical physics in graduate school. I like this field because it seems to be a combination of education,research and clinical experience. You can enjoy different kinds of things on this subject. But yesterday I've met a guy who told me that it is not true since most medical physicist would have to work more than 60 hours a week and they have to be on call on weekends too. It is unrealistic and impossible for them to do something like research besides their clinical hours as they are too occupied with the latter. And he also mentioned that being medical physicsist is really harmful to the health and it is of high possibility for medical physicist to give birth to a child with retardness .He also said that today it is really difficult for a native medical physics student to find a job after graduation because this field is so saturated...... I'm an international student and I think if it is the case, it will be like impossible for me to get a job......
    I've been really shocked by the conversation and I'm really worried about if it is a good choice for me to get into this field. Can anyone inside the field tell me if it is really like what is described above?I'm really worried about my future...
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2009 #2


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    Re: Help!!!Concerns about medical physics programPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 4:10 pm

    Hi Zhangyo-yo,

    Here's some answers from a working medical physicist.

    (1) The medical physics work week. I won't lie here. I rarely go home at 17:00. On some days, that's when the real work begins. Clinically, medical physicists play a critical role in the operation of a radiotherapy facility. We're the ones who get called when there's a problem to be solved. In some facilities you can end up on call evenings and weekends. To be successful, you have to enjoy this work.

    (2) If you want to do research, the opportunity is there. I wite papers, review for journals, present at conferences - all on top of clinical duties. Those who don't do it are usually those who choose not to. (And even then they can end up getting dragged into projects here and there). A lot of the opportunity is facility dependent though.

    (3) Children born with "retardedness" and other adverse effects. I suggest you go and look this up. Things like loss of IQ, microcephaly (small head size), mental retardation, etc. are effects that have been studied by groups looking at the survivors and children of atomic bomb detonations. These are largely considered deterministic effects with thresholds of ~100-200 mSv recieved by the fetus during a particularly sensitive phase of development. Radiation protection laws exist that limit exposures to regular workers to less than this by an order of magnitude. Pregnant workers are further limited by another order of magnitude. Shielding designs further reduce exposures to well below the legal limits. Typical exposures recieved by medical physicists are within a standard deviation of natural background. The most dangerous part of my day is driving to work.

    (4) Right now, the economy is in a rut and medical physicists are feeling the pinch too. What I've seen is that MSc graduates have a difficult time staying in the cities they want to stay in and have to go where the opportunities arise. I haven't seen too many CAMPEP PhD graduates experience problems though.

    I hope that clears a few things up.
  4. Oct 2, 2009 #3
    Re: Help!!!Concerns about medical physics programPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 4:10 pm

    Thanks! It really helps me a lot...Kind of a relief:-)
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