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Medical Physics Choices

  1. Feb 29, 2012 #1
    Hi! I am an undergraduate physics student, and I am looking to go into Medical Physics. I am not sure if I want to pursue a clinical career or continue into academia after obtaining my PhD in medical physics.

    I was wondering if anyone had opinions or experiences with these schools, and how attending them might influence my career path.

    Purdue University
    University of Cincinnati
    Wayne State
    University of Kentucky
    Stony Brook

    Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 29, 2012 #2


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    I'm not personally familiar with any of those programs, but I can offer some advice as to what I would look for in a program if I were in your shoes. In no particular order...
    1. CAMPEP accereditation. (I'm pretty sure those are all accredited programs).
    2. The program still emphasizes physics. The CAMPEP requirements basically are there to make sure that the program covers enough material that its graduates will have a reasonable chance at passing board exams. Things to look for are that the program is strongly affiliated with a physics department, you have to pass a comprehensive exam for the PhD, and/or that you have the opportunity to take physics department courses beyond just the CAMPEP-required ones.
    3. Solid research projects. Are currents students and professors actively publishing in medical physics journals such as (but not limited to): Medical Physics, Physics in Medicine and Biology, The International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics (red journal), Raditherapy and Oncology (green journal), the Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics, Radiation Research?
    4. A residency program. First, it's a plus that the program has a residency program. Then, check that the school's graduates are the ones being selected for the residency program. It's not necessarily bad if not ALL residents come from the graduate program, but it's good to check that the school is confident enough to hire their own graduates.
    5. Your own preferences. Are you generally interested in the projects that people in the program are working on?
    6. Opportunties for QA work. How much practical experience are you going to get? Is the work guaranteed or competative? Can you support yourself on what such positions pay?
  4. Mar 2, 2012 #3
    I graduated from the University of Kentucky M.S. program a few years ago and in my humble opinion it will almost certainly lead you to a clinically-oriented career unless you decide to continue on to a Ph.D. at another institution (currently a formal medical physics doctoral program does not exist there). Also -- while the M.S. program has a mandatory clinical research component -- it is a non-thesis M.S. program that focuses almost all of your time on hands-on clinical work and didactic coursework. There is also a CAMPEP-accredited residency tied to the program (I believe they pull 2 students from their M.S. program into the residency each year, and class sizes are 6-8 each year). The residency has an additional research requirement but I think anyone attending Kentucky is doing so because they want to pursue a clinical career.

    (Not that having a Ph.D. precludes you from a strong clinical career in any way!)

    If you have any specific questions about UK's program I can try my best to answer them.
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