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Medical Physics Residencies

  1. Jan 23, 2014 #1
    Hi! I am an MS student currently in the process of applying and interviewing for residencies, and I have questions about how it could affect my future career prospects. I am planning to pursue a purely clinical career after completing a residency (no industry, and never academia). I'm currently looking at both university-based residencies (specifically ones that do not have research components) and ones with medical physics groups. How would either of those affect my hiring prospects after residency? Will a hospital hire me if I do a residency with a consulting group? How much does the perceived "prestige" of the residency program really matter? What are the benefits of a university-based program vs one with a consulting group?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 23, 2014 #2


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    As long as the residency is accredited, the "prestige" associated with it doesn't really matter in hiring - at lease not in my experience.

    What matters is what you've done in the residency - the projects you've taken on and how well you've done with them, as well as what your supervisors and mentors have to say about you.

    All candidates will require some training to get up to speed in the clinic, but when I'm on a hiring committee I need to know how quickly the candidate will become independent. Can she be trusted to sign off on a treatment plan? Can he clear a dosimetry interlock (and know the difference between entering the password and assessing the problem)? Can she take the lead on the purchase and commissioning of a new unit? All accredited residencies will provide training in this kind of stuff, but what we try to assess in the interview process goes beyond simply having been trained in the field and more towards each candidates performance level, independence, and ability to confront new problems - if that makes sense.

    Each residency will have it's strengths. University-based ones are more likely to have opportunities for involvement with research projects. Even if you lean more towards the clinical side of the academic-clinical spectrum, these can be the kind of thing that can land you that first job because they can give you direct experience with the new technologies that many smaller clinics will be interested in adopting in the "near future." From a networking point of view they are likely to have had more graduates and the professors are likely to have more contacts, which may help in finding that first position.

    Physics group residencies may be more likely to involve more commissioning work, which can be a huge bonus in my opinion. You learn a lot more commissioning a new unit than you do performing routine QA on it month after month. Also, depending on the group, they may offer exposure to multiple sites, which means you'll see more than one way of doing things and can help from a networking perspective as well.
  4. Jan 24, 2014 #3
    In addition to the above, my advice would be to not limit yourself in where you apply. Accredited residency positions are incredibly competitive right now, especially for M.S. students. Apply to as many accredited residencies as you can and do your due diligence on each application. Consider looking into the AAPM CAP program. You want to put yourself in a position to succeed in finding a residency spot, and one way to help do that is to throw a wide net.

    Do not be concerned about the presence of research in a program. Accredited programs should all have a research component to meet the minimum standards set by CAMPEP. The programs that most emphasize research seem to have one year of research-focused work followed by two years of clinical work consistent with residency accreditation requirements, and those programs largely accept Ph.D. level physicists exclusively.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
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