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Physics Medical Physics career

  1. May 8, 2010 #1
    Greetings all! I've been interested in switching careers to the medical community so I hope you have input.

    I have a B.S. and M.S. in physics - nuclear concentration (last graduating in 2005).

    After reading various forums and websites I'm more confused than ever!

    I'm currently looking into either Dosimetry or Medical Physics though I have no experience whatsoever in this field.

    This is what I've gathered so far: One can enter a BS program in Dosimetry (though I have no desire to enter another BS program right now and the fact I haven't taken some of their required courses such as Anatomy and Medical Technology). The medical physics program is quite competitive and since I've been out of school for a few years and I've forgotten much of the stuff in grad school, I'm probably not the most desired candidate right now. I'm aware I could work on these.

    Basically, are there any clear options that I'm currently eligible for? I've seen programs where I don't meed their requirements.

    Thanks and I hope to hear from you guys.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 8, 2010 #2


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    Hi Diaby2,

    I'm a medical physicist. You might want to check out the medical physics thread in this sub forum, if you haven't already.

    If you're looking into the dosimetry route, the most common way of getting there is to start as a radiation therapist. The RT programs that I'm familiar with are 2 year diploma programs and involve a combination of course work and clinical training. Once you have that training, you can do another year of training to specialize in dosimetry. In some places this is a formal education program, while in others, I believe it involves on-the-job trainining. I know there is a movement to make this part of a degree program, which is offered at some schools and some places are even starting to offer a master's of radiation therapy degree.

    As a dosimetrist you could be involved in everything from the original planning CT scans of the patient (CT-simulation), patient education, plan preparation, target definition, and then plan optimization (where they spend most of their time), and even checking of plans. You would work closely with radiation therapists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists, nurses and clerical staff.

    Medical physics is a much longer and tougher road. At minimum you need a master's degree in medical physics, ideally from a CAMPEP accredited program, and these are very competative to get into. A PhD in the field would be highly recommended, in my opinion. Then you need clinical training. Some places are willing to hire straight out of graduate school into "junior physicist" positions, but the most practial thing to get into after graduate school is an accredited residency program. Again, these are quite competative. Most medical physicist positions will require board certification and this will soon require having completed an accredited residency.

    Medical physics is a great field though.
  4. May 19, 2010 #3
    You might consider going into health physics and/or being a radiation safety office instead of a medical physicist. My understanding is that the educational requirements are not as strict as for medical physics.

    See this link for more info: http://hps.org/publicinformation/hpcareers.html" [Broken]

    If you read the other recent posts on medical physics, you'll probably notice two things: the field is closing up (i.e. the "people in charge" are trying to make it harder to become qualified on paper) and the current job market seems to be really bad for those entering the field. The second part is probably only a short to medium term problem, but the first part is a bigger problem.

    And just to clear things up, you do not (strictly) need a degree in medical physics to become a medical physicist or to become board certified. In the near future they will be requiring an accredited residency to take the boards. They are also planning to make the accredited medical physics degree an additional requirement to the residency in the future, but they have not announced a date for that yet (i.e. there will be a 2018 rule or something).

    I am not sure you'd be happy as a dosimetrist for the simple fact that there will be people sitting right next to you with similar educations (literally an MS in nuclear physics), but making significantly more money than you. That physicist could be in charge of what you are doing, but with less work experience, etc.

    Good luck and don't undersell your current physics education.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  5. Jun 1, 2010 #4
    be careful to enter medical physics now. I am board-certified and have phd in medical physics with less than 1 year experience post residency and cannot find a job. I am not discouraging you away from medical physics, just be alert......
  6. Jun 1, 2010 #5
    Can I ask what specific subfield of medical physics your Ph.d. research was in?
  7. Jun 1, 2010 #6
    Does it make much difference in looking for jobs? Many people without physics degree can become medical physics easily before (probably not now because influential guys make the entrance harder than before and there are too much supply of new physicists)

    I did phs in radiation physics, more specifically treatment planning and dose calculation and measurements......

  8. Jun 1, 2010 #7
    Yes, it can matter. For instance, if you had done a Ph.d. in imaging science and didn't have clinical experience. Y
  9. Jun 1, 2010 #8
    Lots of people get into medical physics without physics degree, so it really does not matter too much.......I don't understand why people on this board just ignore the fact? Are people here really retarded so they can only study medical physics because medical physics is so easy and cannot learn other subjects which need more brain power?

    My point is medical physics is something that everyone can do as long as they are given opportunity to train. It is not like some subjects like math or real physics or other subjects even they are given opportunity to train, they still cannot get it. To me medical physics is more like a technical stuff which does not deserve phd or sometimes master's. Have you heard phd in lock simth? phd in carpenter? phd in roofer? This is backed up by the fact that every clinical radiation physicists do everyday. Unless those "physicists" are afraid of faces and do not want to admit it.

    They may create doctor of medical physics to artificially elevated it but it is not phd.

  10. Jun 2, 2010 #9

    Based on your grammatical skills and general attitude I can see why no one has hired you. Those people that you denigrate are the ones getting hired because they are clearly more skilled than you are. Perhaps your Ph.d. (or phs as you call it) in "radiation physics" is from some ****load of an unaccredited, third-world university where the highest academic ranks are filled by those people who own the greatest number of goats.

    As far as people getting into medical physics without a degree, you obviously don't know what the **** you are talking about. While it IS possible to enter medical physics without a degree in the FIELD of medical physics, it is not possible to enter it without advanced graduate training in a similar field, e.g. bioengineering or physics.

    Stop spreading lies because you are a failure that no one will hire.
  11. Jun 2, 2010 #10


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    This may have been the case twenty years ago, but it's not the case now in my experience. Generally, getting into medical physics today requires one to go through a medical physics graduate program. Other people enter the field with backgrounds of other areas of physics, engineering physics, but this is getting more and more difficult. I don't think it's fair to advise anyone hoping to get into medical physics that they can just walk into it from any background they chose.

    Medphys, please stop insulting medical physicists. If you have a point to make then do so, but as a medical physicist I find this tone insulting and in promotion of a fallicy.

    So how do you explain the people who fail out of medical physics programs, but who did very well in undergraduate physics degrees and come from very well-respected physics programs? I've even seen people with master's degrees from other fields of physics fail out. How do you explain the failure rates on the certification exams among people with PhDs in your so-called "real" physics programs who also have years of clinical experience?

    Again, I think you're judging a field by the simplest subset of the work in it. There are obviously some clinical problems in medical physics where you don't need to dive into the higher level physics courses to solve them. In fact some only require one to return to rudimentary physics principles. But, these problems are pursued because there is a clinical demand for their solution - not because the investigators are incapable of doing anything else.

    Sorry, maybe you have too many typos here, but these statements don't make any sense. What exactly is it those "physicists" do not want to admit?

    There are some programs (I believe they haven't started yet, but I could be wrong) that aim to grant a "doctor of medical physics" degree that is not research based and incorporate clinical experience into the program in an attempt to combine the didactic coursework with a residency. I disagree with this direction, because (1) research is an integral part of a medical physicist's function. Cutting it out removes one of the most significant services a medical physicist provides. (2) The clinical experience would now be considered part of the program and residents would not get paid (at least at a reasonable level) for the work they do.
  12. Jun 2, 2010 #11
    I do not lie. Timothy D. Solberg one of the Board of Directors of CAMPEP mentioned early this year that it is hard for new physicists to get jobs. A girl who was one of application educators for the training session I attended this year also said it. It is a common thing. << insult removed by berkeman >>

    I did my phd in a large well-known research university here in North America. My phd supervisor have published more than 150 papers. The highest number of citation of one paper has reached almost 1000. He served as a president of a big organization in medical physics.

    The supervisor in my residency program also served as president in medical physics community.

    I don’t want waste my breath to post anything. Anyone who is smart enough << insult removed by berkeman >> will figure it out.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2010
  13. Jun 2, 2010 #12
    If it's any consolation to the original poster, I don't know a single medical physics graduate that hasn't found a job in the field somewhere. I'm in Canada, however, so maybe the climate is different here.
  14. Jun 2, 2010 #13
    who is berkeman, why it removes my content?
  15. Jun 2, 2010 #14
    Berkemen is one of the mentors (moderators) here. He is enforcing the guidelines you agreed to when you created your account.
  16. Jun 3, 2010 #15
    this reminds me good old memories. I had hesitated before, between doing an MSc in Theoretical Physics and an MSc in Medical Physics. Medical Physics is highly regarded and respected in Continental Europe (I mean, Europe without UK, since I dont know exactly its status in UK) and they are too many unfilled positions. I chose Theoretical Physics only because it was my original field of specialization when undergraduate. I cant understand that some can have contempt on Medical Physics. In addition, it helps people. Only that aspect is enough to make it a very valuable field in its own, regardless how much easy or difficult it is to study. For example, in the University of Louvain , Belgium, Medical Physics is all but easy: its a full-time 2 years postgrad curriculum over with 19 course covering in-depth topics involved, from genetics to wavelets and theoretical mathematics investigated in recent imaging research.
  17. Jun 3, 2010 #16
    Regarding the UK,
    I have done consultancy work with the medical physics group at the University of Aberdeen. This group has done important work over many years especially in imaging (MRI algorithms, new MRI and PET devices)and a number of spin-out companies have formed. One problem they find is getting enough good medical physicists! I know its quite a long way away for some people, but its not a bad place! (and at this time of year its still daylight at 11pm)
  18. Jun 4, 2010 #17
    I'm thinking about applying for the nhs training programme next year. I should have a 1st class masters in mathematical physics but no experience in medical physics. Does anyone know what my chances of being accepted are?
  19. Jun 4, 2010 #18
  20. Jun 4, 2010 #19
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