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Medical Physics, Astrophysics or something else?

  1. Mar 26, 2014 #1
    I've got my bachelor's degree in physics, Astrophysics from a university in Iran and I came here about 2 months ago. My plan was to study MSc of medical physics in Canada. I like this field so much because it's more practical and specially because I can help people who have cancer, since I used to work with children who had cancer. But I understood that job opportunities for a MSc of Medical physics is not really good here in Ontario which is very disappointing for me.

    So now I'm thinking about studying astronomy or another major in healthcare. Even getting a college diploma would be good for me if I could work with it. In fact I have 2 years to study and then I have to go to work. OK, I could sum up my concerns in 2 questions:
    1. Does Astronomy have a future in Ontario?
    2. What are other programs in healthcare with a good future job opportunities?

    Any input would be really appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 26, 2014 #2


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    Hi Debran,

    If your major concern is job opportunities then it's probably worth noting that the job opportunities in medical physics are generally a lot more than those in astronomy. In medical physics today the most competative candidates for residency positions are CAMPEP-accredited PhD graduates, but there are efforts (particularly in the US) underway to change this so as to avoid "over-educating" candidates for many positions that simply won't require the PhD. MSc medical physics graduates have oportunities outside of just clinical positions too. They can get into industrial positions doing research and product development, technical sales, commissioning and technical support.

    Astronomy on the other hand is an academic rather than a professional sub-field. If you seriously want to work as an astronomer then a PhD is pretty much necessary and the few positions available are highly competative even for the PhDs.

    If you're looking for something in the medical physics related area that you could get into within two years you might want to consider:
    - radiation therapy and medical dosimetry
    - MRI technology
    - x-ray technology
    - nuclear medicine technology
    - health physics and radiation protection

    It's easy to dismiss "technologist" positions when you have a degree, but from a financial perspective they're actually not that bad assuming that you would start working right away when you graduate. The opportunity cost of remaining in school for a PhD is significant. Some hidden factors are that it delays opportunities to contribute to retirement savings and it delays the opportunity to take out and start paying down a mortgage, for example. Plus, from what I've observed, those who have a physics background in these fields tend to get promoted quickly.
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