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Physics Medical Physics Career Advice for MS

  1. Dec 20, 2006 #1
    Sorry if this post appears twice; I couldn't figure out if it actually posted the first time.

    I'd really like some career advice about medical physics. I've just finished an M.S. (with thesis) in accelerator physics, my research was about radiation and superconducting magnets.

    I'm very interested in entering the medical physics field, but I'm not sure what I need to do that. I'm planning on studying some medical physics and anatomy textbooks and then trying to pass the ABMP certification. Were I to pass, would that certification, along with my accelerator physics MS, be enough to hire me?

    Also, I've been offered a job as an accelerator physicist, but I think that I would rather work in medical physics. However, it is a great foot-in-the-door kind of job, so it would be hard for me to turn down. My question here is: is accelerator physics work relevant to a medical physics career? I've noticed that many medical physics jobs would like 2-5 years relevant experience. My job would be building magnets, doing simulations with magnets and radiation, and maintaining various parts of the accelerator.

    I don't know a lot yet about med physics in general, so if you have any general advice about going into medical physics with a non-med-physics MS, I'd appreciate that too.

    If you'd prefer to email me, I'm delauter.geo@yahoo.com
    Thank you,
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2006 #2
    Your best bet would probably be to contact someone in the radiation oncology or radiology department at your local hospitals. If you can't find a way to do that, human resources should be able to put you in contact. They may even let you go in and follow someone around for a day to see what it is like.

    I know I've seen jobs that list accelerator physics as an acceptable degree. As you say, they require experience though. You can't go wrong with accepted the job offer. Afterall, you could always leave :)

    Just for an example, here are the requirements listed for the medical physics MS and PhD at Wayne State: http://www.med.wayne.edu/radonc/medphys/ [Broken] click on "courses". That should give you a good idea of what you may need to know to pass a certification.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  4. Dec 20, 2006 #3
    Along with Wayne State (Michigan), Wright State University (Ohio) also had a program: http://www.wright.edu/academics/biomed/pages/med_physics_eng/med_physics_eng.htm
    I think they are getting to be more common.

    Are there any schools near you (or your potential accelerator job) where you could take a few courses and therefore make connections with people in the field? Or even just have a few meetings with people in the field? Shadowing a few people (as suggested by Mororvia above) would let you know if this is really what you want to do... as well as a way of making contacts.
  5. Jan 23, 2007 #4
    The problem with Wright States program (as I have heard) is that they do not have a hospital connected to them so the students have a hard time getting clinical hours.
  6. Jan 23, 2007 #5
    the first thing you will want to do is investigate some CAMPEP accredited medical physics PhD programs. With your background in accelerator physics, none of the material shouldn't be terribly difficult for you (although some of the cell biology, anatomy and physiology might cause you grief). It also makes you a natural to consider radiation therapy physics where you can do a lot of work with accelerators and beam simulations.

    The PhD program may or may not get you the clinical experience you need. In any case, a CAMPEP accredited residency program after your PhD will get you all the clinical experience you'll need to sit the ABR or ABMP boards. Check the AAPM website for more information about medical physics as a career. You can also check with the closest teaching hospital with a radiation oncology department to see if they have any therapy physicists on staff. Give them a call and tell them your interest. Most will be more than happy to spend some time telling you more.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2007
  7. Jan 23, 2007 #6
    I was interested in the same career path. Can you tell me why you chose ot get a masters instead of just getting a phd in medical physics?
  8. Jun 16, 2010 #7
    I would say that you definitely need some kind of training in Medical Physics in order to be able to jump into the field. Your background could be suitable for starting a PhD in Medical Physics as someone already mentioned.
    If you don't want to do a PhD, then perhaps you should try to apply for a residency position (check out the CAMPEP approved residency positions on the CAMPEP website).
    Otherwise, there's always the option of doing a Master's in medical physics. I believe you said you already did one in accelerator physics, but although that is sound theoretical training for research on MedPhys, it doesn't give you the practical clinical knowledge that is necessary to work as a Medical Physicist in a oncology clinic.
    Hope that helps!
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