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Physics Medical Physics and the ABR

  1. Jun 15, 2011 #1
    I'm not sure if this is an appropriate question for this forum, but I was wondering how "detrimental" it is for a student with an MS in medical physics to not be accredited by ABR when it comes to applying for jobs? Is it really hard to find a job without this certificate, straight up impossible (practically), or relatively easy?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2011 #2
    It depends on state law. If you ask your program, they should have some ideas of the registration/certification requirements for the state you are in. Some states its an absolute requirement.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
  4. Jun 15, 2011 #3


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    If you don't have certification, you're generally looking at finding a junior physicist position or a residency - the positions that will allow you to gain the clinical experience you need in order to write the certification exams. Accredited residencies are highly competative and PhD candidates are more-or-less universally preferred.

    There are still places that will hire people into junior physicist positions straight out of an MSc program. I don't have any solid numbers on this. But it's a competative process, and getting in will depend on the pool of applicants for a particular position. PhD candidates have the general advantage of being seen as potentially more productive researchers and often the deal turns out to be clinical training in exchange for research progress. On the other hand, in some cases, PhDs can be seen as flight risks, or as having less interest in day-to-day clinical work.

    If you are a medical physics student, try looking up alumni from your program and find out where they've gone. This might give you a better idea of the paths available to you.
  5. Jun 16, 2011 #4
    I have been speaking with MPs in the region (Portland, OR), I'm going into a fairly new program so they have practically no alumni. The general census I'm getting though is that people shouldn't go into this field if they are looking to only get their master's because of the hospitals choosing PhDs over master students for residency positions. But then I saw that you'd technically only have to do residency to sit for the exam (after 2014 which is when I'd graduate with a master's), and that got me to thinking if I don't try to do residency until a few years later when perhaps more residency slots open up in the country. However, if I don't do residency, could I really get a job in the meantime? I really want to do this profession, but it sounds like they're really screwing over master's students and students graduating from non-CAMPEP schools after 2014 since they don't have enough residencies..... Just seeing what my options are. Another thing I was thinking, is that if I could take exam I in 2013 (this way I could avoid the REQUIREMENT of doing residency before sitting for exam I), which would be before the end of my second year but after my first year in the master's program? I'm just wondering if this is JUST a bad idea since I won't know all the material from my program, or simply impossible since there's regulations that you can't sit until you're done with school? I didn't see anything pertaining to this on ABR's website.

    Hopefully this makes sense....
  6. Jun 16, 2011 #5


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    Personally I'm more familiar with the CCPM than the ABR, but there's probably a few things worth pointing out.

    1. I believe that to write in 2012 the ABR criteria is: CAMPEP graduate program OR CAMPEP residency. In 2014, the criteria will be CAMPEP graduate program AND CAMPEP residency. I also believe that the CCPM will follow suit by 2016.

    2. The ABR exam is broken into parts - the first part can be done as a student, but for the subsequent parts you need to have 2 years of clinical experience - this has been the case since long before the CAMPEP requirements were introduced. Without the relevant experience you don't qualify to write the exam.

    3. There is a legitimate concern about introducing an artificial bottleneck with the new certification requirements and not everyone agrees with it. But the consensus seems to be that it's a necessary step to further establish the credentials of the profession.

    4. It's becomming not uncommon for some students to work as physics techs if they don't get a residency immediately following graduation - particularly those at the MSc level.
  7. Jun 21, 2011 #6
    Don't bothering entering the field at this point in time if you don't intend to complete a CAMPEP accredited program and eventually become certified by the ABR. It's simply the responsible path for a young medical physicist to take if they care about making their careers secure.
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