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Medical Physicist Job Outlook (USA)

  1. Jun 15, 2010 #1
    I'm new to this forum. I have a M.S. degree in Physics, 5 years clinical experience and seem to have great difficulty finding a job in the field. My impression is that the field is oversaturated with applicants. I don't think I could recommend this occupation to anyone. I have other thoughts on the matter, but for now, 1) what is the cause for this and 2) how are people coping and 3) are others having this difficulty. Thanks for your thoughts.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2010 #2
    Your experience seems to be similar to the experience of others on this forum. How did you get 5 years of clinical experience without having a job?
  4. Jun 15, 2010 #3
    To the OP:

    Your experiences are not unique. Clearly medphys above is having difficulty as well. However, this has not been the norm according to my observations. Everyone (the only exceptions are those who chose not to pursue a residency, opting for further education instead) I know who has recently finished an accredited medical physics degree program has managed to find an accredited residency position, and everyone I know who has finished an accredited residency program has managed to find a position.

    You don't say whether you have completed an accredited residency or are certified. You mention that you did your schooling in physics, rather than medical physics. It is my understanding that recently, and in the near future, is has/will become more difficult for uncertified people to obtain positions, and it will become more difficult for people who have not graduated from an accredited residency/degree program to become certified. If you are not ABR certified, I would recommend getting it, and that may help you.

    PS. My observations are exclusive to Canada, and not necessarily representative of the US. However, my acquaintances in the US have not told me anything differently, and some of the people I know have gone to the US for employment in this field. If there was a major glut of medical physicists in the US, I don't imagine they would be extending many offers to Canadian medical physicists.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2010
  5. Jun 15, 2010 #4
    I would also like to know this. Explaining more about your past and background/education might allow people to offer better advice.
  6. Jun 16, 2010 #5


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    I think there are a few people, at least, who share this feeling about the american job market currently being oversaturated. I haven't seen any hard statistics on the matter, so I don't know whether this is a true phenomenon or merely an apparent one.

    I won't argue that some people are having a difficult time finding a job, though.

    My opinion is that the job market in the healthcare sector is generally down right now - lagging somewhat behind a sluggish economy. I think there is also a lot of nervousness about healthcare and Obama's reforms, which also makes the administators play a 'wait and see' game. As a result, despite a growing demand for medical physics services, new medical physicists aren't being hired at the rate they were a few years ago. So I think there is a reasonable expectation for the hiring rate to be somewhat lower now.

    One bit of advice in the job hunt is to network. I can't remember the statistics off the top of my head, but in recent AAPM salary surveys, they report on the fraction of people who found their jobs through the AAPM postings and the majority found them by some other means. If you can go to the AAPM meeting, it's a good place to make some contacts.
  7. Jun 16, 2010 #6
    I didn't have a residency. I had a techincal career with a B.S. and decided to go back to graduate school. I had some clinical training in graduate school at a local hospital (2 classes / not much) and actually worked part time mostly doing IMRT patient QA, monthly QA's, etc for about a year. I got hired on full time in a large non-hospital based group once I graduated and was making $100,000 / year to start. I was tasked to do everything and did it well and I was let go recently end salary $105,000. I learned quite a lot and thankful for the opportunity. I will take ABR part 3 next year. I'm thinking of getting the CMD and the CHP certifications as well. Perhaps I'm having issues because I didn't go to a great university. I'm also considering getting out of the field completely and either doing engineering or starting my own business.
  8. Jun 16, 2010 #7
    I know these might be a politically incorrect questions, but does the market saturation have any correlation to the number of H1-B visas issued? I know the powers that be seem to always declare labor shortages in an attempt to depress wages in certain white collar professions. With 20 million Americans unemployed why on earth are we allowing more people entrance to the US labor market?
  9. Jun 16, 2010 #8
    I think part of your trouble is the tightening of restrictions on who can perform the duties (moving towards requiring certification), which is leaving people, like yourself, who do not have certification in a hard spot. If I were looking to hire someone, I wouldn't want to hire someone uncertified, and then have to look for someone new in a few years when the certification becomes legally required. Getting certified would help, but perhaps even putting it on your resume that you're working towards your certification may help short term (so the people doing the hiring know that they may not need someone new if/when certification is mandated).
  10. Jun 16, 2010 #9
    It is not important whether you have certificate or not, because Med Phys is a highly non-demanding job. If you pay 150k a year to a locksmith, everyone can turn into locksmith because of its pay, but if you pay 150k a year to a real physicist (not a fake one) how many can turn into it even people want to? Med phys unfortunately belongs to the former one. \because it is easy to become a med phys (no hard skills needed) too many can jump inot the field, creates oversaturated job market

  11. Jun 17, 2010 #10
    Thanks for the opinions. NeoDevin is right about certification......it does increase your worth and opportunities. I was in a bad position since some of the dosimetrists were making more than me. MedPhys has a point too. Sometimes having certification and PhD doesn't make one competent. I was teaching board certified physicists, 20+ yrs experience with PhD's basic clinical things and they were making 2.5X my pay. They should have been teaching me. To be very honest, some aspects of the job are boring: patient QA, billing, chart checks, etc. Things once learned in a clinic can get redundant at times. I wonder if the research end of medical physics is more exciting.
  12. Jun 17, 2010 #11
    There were 65,000 H-1B visas issued last year. That's not going to make a big difference in the unemployment rate.

    Personally, I think it's better to have people moving into the US, than to have jobs leave for off-shore. Most of the jobs involving H-1B's are things that could be done offshore, and if you don't allow people to move into the US to do the jobs, then those jobs are just going to move out of the US.
  13. Jun 17, 2010 #12
    This is true too, I've known a few incompetent people with their certification and PhD. What it does do, is make you more marketable.

    As a student at a research university, I find the research end more exciting than the clinical end.
  14. Oct 6, 2010 #13
    I don't know if they qualify as hard, but here are some statistics :-)

    Also, this official opinion didn't make my day :-(
    Here's the specific paragraph that bothers me (and it is from a university website, no less):
    Employment of physicists is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2014. More doctorates are being granted than there are openings for medical physicists, so competition for jobs may be stiff. However, new positions may be created because the aging population may need an increasing number of diagnostic tests. Openings regularly occur when experienced workers retire or leave the field.
    Now, how am I gonna get a job with an MS and residency if there are more doctorates handed than jobs?
  15. Oct 6, 2010 #14

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    No, it's not. "stateuniversity.com" is not a university.
  16. Nov 21, 2010 #15
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