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Medical dosimetrist

  1. Apr 14, 2012 #1
    Hi everyone, as per the forum section I'm looking for some career advice.

    In 6 weeks time I will be finishing a degree in physics with medical physics and bioengineering. I have applied to the trainee medical physics program with the NHS and am on the reserve interview list. Because of the high possibility of not getting an interview I'm thinking of other possible routes. I will be applying for phd's in Ireland (where I live) and England but if I don't get any I was wondering about the possibility of becoming a dosimetrist for a year or two for some experience. I know in Ireland you can become a dosimetrist from either being a radiation therapist or having a physics degree but I was wondering about in the US? Would a degree in the above be enough to get a job in dosimetry in america?

    I have 7 months planning experience as part of my degree in a hospital in Ireland. This was only conformal planning but I was fully trained. Also I would only get a year visa as I don't wish to stay any longer so would this hinder job possibilities?

    I know I have a lot of questions but finally I was wondering if experience in dosimetry would help getting into medical physics training programs in the future? Particularly the NHS STP one?

    I know it's not likely many people here will have this specific information but any advice is greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2012 #2


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    Hi Toni,

    In my experience (being a medical physicist in Canada), it seems all dosimetrists come from a radiation therapy background. I know in the US there are medical physicists who do planning, but they are qualified medical physicists and they get paid as such.

    I suspect that the issue with walking into a dosimetry position straight out of undergrad - if that's allowed - is that you would be competing against RT's with several years of experience. What often happens in the facilities I've been affiliated with is that RTs from the floor are rotated into dosimetry. Those who like it and who do well then tend to get first dibs on dosimetry positions when they open up. Outsiders don't have much of a chance in a system like this.

    Experience in dosimetry is not lkely to be a major factor in getting you into a medical physics graduate program. It might be a minor help, but it's not going to compensate for poor grades.
  4. Apr 15, 2012 #3
    Thanks for your reply Choppy. So I guess dosimetry isn't an option in the US then for me. My grades are good for getting into a training position I'm not looking to compensate for that. As I'm sure you know most people have a PhD going for these programs so that's probably my best option from here I'm really just looking to travel a bit while not wasting time but PhDs work very differently in different parts of the world and I understand in a lot of countries it's too late to apply now. It would be nice if there was something I could do in different countries that could still help towards a career in medical physics.
  5. Apr 16, 2012 #4
    Getting a dosimetry job in the US is hard without a CMD certificate. You can find out good information here, http://www.medicaldosimetry.org/ . Certification information here, http://www.mdcb.org/examinfo/eligibility.htm . If you graduated from a JCERT accredited program, you may be able to test via Route 1. I think the old routes for getting to sit for a CMD exam by grandfathering are gone, and some non-CMD dosimetrists are balking at get the B.S. to sit for the CMD exam. Many of the older non-CMD dosimetrists were home grown in-house (RTRs or RTTs with a 2-year associates degree) that were trained by their physicist). I don't see degrees obtained outside the US addressed, but it may be worth a call/e-mail to find out. You may be able to find an institution that would sponsor you to work in the US while you get a graduate degree in medical physics. Soon, the US will require all dosimetrists doing treatment planning to be done by a CMD. Hence, demand for CMDs will climb.
  6. Apr 18, 2012 #5
    Thanks very much for that information ThinkToday. I was unaware an institution would sponsor somebody for a graduate degree. My goal is to get a PhD in medical physics at the end of all this so that is definitely worth looking into. Thank you :)
  7. Apr 23, 2012 #6

    One of the problems with getting onto the STP in England is that the initial filtering is probably done using a points based system. I know this happened with some of the old localised, pre-'Modernising Scientific Careers' recruitment processes, and now that there is a national recruitment programme I would guess that it is even more heavily based on points.

    In this kind of system you get x-point for a first class degree, a 2:1 degree, a masters, work experience etc. The candidates are then ranked by points and the highest scorers chosen for interview. It supposedly leads to a 'fair' recruitment process, but its does tend to favour the 'typical' applicant over someone who has unusual experience. Someone like yourself, who has a lot more practical experience in planning than most applicants, won't have necessarily have a huge advantage - you might get an extra point in the work experience category, but if you don't score highly in the other categories you still won't make the list.

    Your best bet for improving you chances would probably be a Masters/PhD in Medical Physics. Alternatively you could apply for a technologist post and try to work your way up, or apply the Scottish/Welsh schemes which I think still operate under a local system.
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