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Admissions Medical Physics Admissions to Georgia Tech

  1. Feb 19, 2013 #1
    Hey, I'm new to the forum!

    Anyways, I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with the online Medical Physics program at Georgia Tech. I'm curious as to how competitive admissions are, and how they weight factors other than undergrad GPA.

    I currently have a B.S. in Radiation Health Physics, I am a medical physics QA coordinator at a very well-known and respected proton therapy center, and previously have 6 years electrical engineering experience as an electrical designer.

    My job mainly consists of me doing daily/weekly/monthly/annual proton and linac machine QA (output verification, PDD measurements, patient specific measurements, etc...), but I am also able to get experience with ALL other medical physics tasks here. Because of that, I regularly work with the post-docs on their projects, I train them on some procedures, and they also help me with my work. I also occasionally work with the head physicists with their research projects.

    I have dosimetry training, and will begin doing treatment plans soon. I have a lot of engineering and physics knowledge for all of our machines and techniques (cyclotron, linacs, CT, PET, IMRT, IGRT, etc...), and do all kinds of other medical physics tasks. I have programming experience and have created and modified software for analyzing collected data. I am more or less a medical physics resident, just without the graduate degree or having as many responsibilities as they do. I am also currently doing my own research project which includes the commisioning and callibration of a new device, comparing special phantoms and detectors with a monte carlo simulation, and hope to have a paper published within the year. Additionally, my undergrad senior project was a medical physics project that won 1st place in the school's engineering fair I entered into.

    I think it would be perfect for me to enroll in the online medical physics program, while keeping my current job. They would be a great complement for each other, and the master's will open a lot of doors for me. The only problem I see is with my undergrad GPA being below a 3.0, although my major GPA is around 3.4. I didn't really have the time or willpower during my undergrad to put effort into general busywork courses like geography and such, and I was working full time as an electrical designer at the same time.

    Does my low GPA basically make me totally inelligible for this program despite my experience and connections? I can get really great letters of reference from the head faculty physicists in the department here at my place of work. They are very well-known, have written books in medical physics, and have tons of well-respected published literature.

    Any thoughts, comments, or advice would be really appreciated. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 19, 2013 #2

    Choppy

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    This sounds like a question that would be best directed at the specific program itself. The issue with a GPA below a 3.0 is that most graduate programs have filters of some sort. These are handled by the university graduate admissions office or registrar and tend to be rather mechanical. If you don't meet the requirements, then the application package just isn't forwarded to the admissions committee for review, regardless of any other factors.

    I would contact the department though. Based on how you've described yourself, you may be one of those rare cases that gets to jump over the threshold.
     
  4. Feb 19, 2013 #3
    You sound like a great applicant, I would sure hope they could look past your undergraduate GPA given your new current proven record.

    As Choppy said, contact the department personally. Best of luck.
     
  5. Feb 19, 2013 #4
    The GPA requirement in that program is a 3.0 . I am a NE undergrad student there. However I think they would still consider you given your major gpa and your experience. You wont know unless you apply.
     
  6. Feb 20, 2013 #5
    I agree with the others that this is a question that should be directed at the program director at Georgia Tech if you really want the final answer.

    However, I also want to say that while I understand your desire to continue working in your current position while completing your graduate studies, if you really want to advance in your career as a medical physicist (as opposed to having an assistant role) then board certification is all but required. In order to be eligible to take the certification exams you will have to do a CAMPEP-accredited residency after your graduate studies. Residencies are full-time (and then some) positions so you will inevitably have to leave your current job after graduate school for at least 24 months in order to complete a residency.

    Graduate school is essentially a full-time job as well. I know you've managed to balance school with working in the past, but graduate school can be an entirely different sort of challenge than undergrad.

    With all that being said, my point is just that you might give some consideration to pursuing graduate school full-time and opening up your options to other CAMPEP-accredited programs.

    It sounds like you have a wealth of experience and qualifications related to medical physics, so I would hate for Georgia Tech to turn you down for some reason and then that be the end of it, all because you want to keep a job that you will likely have to leave after graduate school anyways.

    Good luck, whatever you decide!
     
  7. Feb 20, 2013 #6
    Thanks for all of your information. I will contact the department this week and see what they have to say. I'll also see if any of the medical physics faculty/professors I work with know anyone at Georgia who I can talk to directly.

    Yes, I understand all about the residency process, CAMPEP, and all that. I work directly with, and on a daily basis, our 3 medical physics residents at the center I work at. Actually, we have many of the same exact responsibilities. I am in charge of carrying out, training, documenting, reviewing, and managing all the QA at our facility that myself and the residents are responsible for doing. Additionally, I help the residents out with many of their other responsibilities. So I know and understand everything that is involved and required.

    There are a few reasons I would like to stay in the position I currently have.
    1 - I am currently getting on the job dosimetry training. I will be able to take the CMD boards in 1.5 more years and get the CMD credential, possibly move to a better (much more pay) position as a medical dosimetrist while I eventually finish my master's. I'm not planning on taking full-time courses, so I have plenty of time. Plus a CMD is always a good fall-back plan in case something doesn't work out, or I end up not liking medical physics eventually.

    2 - The experience I currently have, and will continue getting, will help me IMMENSELY all through the program and after. I will have no problem getting into a good residency, possibly even one where I currently work. I don't think I will have any problem getting a good medical physics job with all the experience, recommendations, and everything else I've been gaining. The proton therapy center I work at is a teaching university/hospital, and we have around 10+ faculty board certified medical physicists who are all well-known professors. Some of them even currently give me "homework assignments", and we have weekly seminars/etc... I would apply to the medical physics program at the university I work at, but most of those courses are at our other campus 1.5 hours away.

    3 - My work will pay for a chunk of my schooling... so that's kind of a no-brainer.

    If I weren't to get in because of my GPA, I would probably just take some classes at a community college to try to boost that for next year. I was mostly wondering if it would be a waste of time for me to apply or not. But yes, I am keeping other programs in the back of my mind. I'm just trying to do whatever will give me the most options and best opportunities in 3-4 years.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
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