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Programs Medical Physics Graduate Programs

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Good night to all,
I would really appreciate if everyone could give me their opinions on:
MS in Medical Physics in Duke University
MS in Medical Physics in Columbia University
MS in Medical Physics in Vanderbilt University
MS in Medical Physics in Cleveland State University
Ph.D in Radiological Sciences in UT Health San Antonio
Ph.D in Medical Physics in University of South Florida
Which program has the best residency acception rate? Is there a particular program that you would choose because of any special reasons? I am looking for a program with a high clinical component, and with a high reputation on the medical physics field. I want to follow the therapy track.
Thank you very much.
 

Vanadium 50

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When is the deadline for all this research you want us to do on your behalf?
 
27
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When is the deadline for all this research you want us to do on your behalf?
Well I've already done the research, and got every program strenghts. I wanted a new perspective if you have one about any of these programs so I can have more information, If you don't have any opinion it's ok, but if you got, you are welcome to share it.
 

Choppy

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I'm assuming this is for 2020 admission. I think the deadline for most medical physics graduate programs for 2019 admission has passed. A good place to start, is the CAMPEP accreditation website. All of those programs are accredited, so that's good. And because they're accredited, they are all required to post statistics about what happens to their students, so you should be able to figure out where their graduates are ending up, which programs have the highest residency acceptance rates, etc. If you poke around on the CAMPEP website, you should also be able to figure out how each program does compared to the average.

I don't have direct experience with any of those schools, but as a medical physicist I can give you my opinion on a few important things to look for - beyond accreditation and raw statistics.
  1. I've come through the Canadian system where there tends to a lot more emphasis on research in general. In the US, research emphasis can vary from program to program. One of your biggest responsibilities as a medical physicist will be bringing new technology into the clinic safely and effectively. Unfortunately a program can't train you on how to do that with technology that doesn't exist yet. But it can give you experience in pursuing your own novel ideas and the process of implementing them in a clinical environment. So I often tell prospective medical physics students to take a good look at the research programs that are going on in each department. What kinds of projects are the students working on? What are they publishing? Do you find these projects interesting?
  2. Consider the cost. Look up the tuition and fees of the programs you're considering. While medical physicists tend to earn reasonable salaries once they're working, that's a lot of debt to take on as many programs are treated more like professional programs instead of graduate programs, which can mean little to no financial support. On the other hand there are some accredited programs that are much more like graduate programs and they provide students with stipends, research assistance or teaching assistance jobs, as well as clinical support jobs.
  3. At least one of those schools has a DMP program. There's some advantages/disadvantages to consider with this. The main advantage is that you essentially get the clinical experience that's seen as equivalent to a residency. That's a major advantage and stress-relief as you don't have the uncertainty of finding a residency, which is unfortunately a bottleneck for entry into the field. The down-side to this is that you're paying someone else to do work that everyone else gets paid to do. Residents can and should provide a massive net benefit to a department.
  4. Visit the campuses if you can. Spend time with students. Ideally you want to get involved in a department where the students have good relationships with not only the faculty, but other professionals in the field as well: radiation oncologists, radiation therapists, service engineers, IT specialists, etc. Medical physics is not a great profession for people who like to keep their heads down, do their own work only, and avoid interactions with others. You don't necessarily have to be extrovert, but you do want a program that's going to help foster that soft skill set.
 
27
1
I'm assuming this is for 2020 admission. I think the deadline for most medical physics graduate programs for 2019 admission has passed. A good place to start, is the CAMPEP accreditation website. All of those programs are accredited, so that's good. And because they're accredited, they are all required to post statistics about what happens to their students, so you should be able to figure out where their graduates are ending up, which programs have the highest residency acceptance rates, etc. If you poke around on the CAMPEP website, you should also be able to figure out how each program does compared to the average.

I don't have direct experience with any of those schools, but as a medical physicist I can give you my opinion on a few important things to look for - beyond accreditation and raw statistics.
  1. I've come through the Canadian system where there tends to a lot more emphasis on research in general. In the US, research emphasis can vary from program to program. One of your biggest responsibilities as a medical physicist will be bringing new technology into the clinic safely and effectively. Unfortunately a program can't train you on how to do that with technology that doesn't exist yet. But it can give you experience in pursuing your own novel ideas and the process of implementing them in a clinical environment. So I often tell prospective medical physics students to take a good look at the research programs that are going on in each department. What kinds of projects are the students working on? What are they publishing? Do you find these projects interesting?
  2. Consider the cost. Look up the tuition and fees of the programs you're considering. While medical physicists tend to earn reasonable salaries once they're working, that's a lot of debt to take on as many programs are treated more like professional programs instead of graduate programs, which can mean little to no financial support. On the other hand there are some accredited programs that are much more like graduate programs and they provide students with stipends, research assistance or teaching assistance jobs, as well as clinical support jobs.
  3. At least one of those schools has a DMP program. There's some advantages/disadvantages to consider with this. The main advantage is that you essentially get the clinical experience that's seen as equivalent to a residency. That's a major advantage and stress-relief as you don't have the uncertainty of finding a residency, which is unfortunately a bottleneck for entry into the field. The down-side to this is that you're paying someone else to do work that everyone else gets paid to do. Residents can and should provide a massive net benefit to a department.
  4. Visit the campuses if you can. Spend time with students. Ideally you want to get involved in a department where the students have good relationships with not only the faculty, but other professionals in the field as well: radiation oncologists, radiation therapists, service engineers, IT specialists, etc. Medical physics is not a great profession for people who like to keep their heads down, do their own work only, and avoid interactions with others. You don't necessarily have to be extrovert, but you do want a program that's going to help foster that soft skill set.
Thank you very much Choppy! Great answer, it clarifies a lot for me.
 
I put up a spreadsheet of all the listed school plus few others for you.

Duke, Columbia Vanderbilt is well known university and people go there for its respectful name and reputation. Their teaching hospitals are great and ranks very high. However, it is interesting to see the acceptance rate for Duke and Columbia is high. Furthermore, the people got offer did not choose these school as the yield is low. From the statistic, we can see many people decide not to apply for the residency after they finish the program. My guess is some people will continue with other degree or change to other field.

Vanderbilt, UTHCSA, UK are few of the mature program in MP, which has lower acceptance rate and higher yield. That indicates those are the school people really want to go if they want to be a medical physicist. As the residency is the requirement for the board exam, you can see those mature program has better success. They do know how to prepare the student to work in the field.

To conclude what the data suggested. If medical physics is your career and this is your terminal degree, pick a mature program to get a residency. If you are in the research and hope one day you can design a new nuclear medical treatment, pick the brand name and pursue a PhD.

I think training medical physicist is like training a truck driver. you can not write papers and expect a driver reflect the traffic condition well. You have to go to the driving school and drive the truck until you are good at it. After all, medical physicist is an occupation operate a fancy machine, keep checking if everything is right and make sure it does not cause any accident.

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27
1
I put up a spreadsheet of all the listed school plus few others for you. Duke, Columbia Vanderbilt is well known university and people go there for its respectful name and reputation. Their teaching hospitals are great and ranks very high. However, it is interesting to see the acceptance rate for Duke and Columbia is high. Furthermore, the people got offer did not choose these school as the yield is low. From the statistic, we can see many people decide not to apply for the residency after they finish the program. My guess is some people will continue with other degree or change to other field. Vanderbilt, UTHCSA, UK are few of the mature program in MP, which has lower acceptance rate and higher yield. That indicates those are the school people really want to go if they want to be a medical physicist. As the residency is the requirement for the board exam, you can see those mature program has better success. They do know how to prepare the student to work in the field. To conclude what the data suggested. If medical physics is your career and this is your terminal degree, pick a mature program to get a residency. If you are in the research and hope one day you can design a new nuclear medical treatment, pick the brand name and pursue a PhD. I think training medical physicist is like training a truck driver. you can not write papers and expect a driver reflect the traffic condition well. You have to go to the driving school and drive the truck until you are good at it. After all, medical physicist is an occupation operate a fancy machine, keep checking if everything is right and make sure it does not cause any accident. View attachment 239485
Amazing Answer! You really helped me a lot with those stadistics. The research I've made seems to tell that most people consider Vanderbilt a very clinical oriented program, and that the medical physicists that come out from this University are very good. It seems that most of them go for a residency after their graduation, and they get accepted, which is a very good indicator. As far as Dukes goes, I think that even though you have the opportunity to do a practicum, and there are some shadowing opportunities, it also focuses a lot on research, and some students decide to follow a Ph.D in the same university when they finish, which is also very nice, but it isn't as clinical as Vanderbilt. Asides from that, Columbia is the most prestigious university in the list, and it also have a very high residency acceptance rate, because more people apply to a residency than in Duke university and it's only 9% lower. So I would say that they are on a similar level, but I think there isn't a lot of opportunities to get hand on experience as in Duke or Vanderbilt.
 

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