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Medical Physics - What to do in grad school to get a job after

  1. Feb 25, 2013 #1
    Hi! I am brand new to this forum.

    I wanted to ask some advice about how I can best improve my chances of getting into an enjoyable career after grad school.

    I am currently a senior due to graduate in May with a BS in physics. I've been accepted into a large research university for their Medical Physics program. They offer only a M.S. Degree and, being a very young program, have not yet achieved CAMPEP Accreditation, though they are in the process of doing so.

    I think I have an interest in imaging, but clinical radiation treatment sounds very good too. I am lucky that the university has a Proton Therapy Center located on campus.

    I have heard a lot about different regulations being placed by AAPM requiring accreditation before getting board certified. How much greater are my chances of employment if I were to continue into an accredited PhD program after my MS? Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2013 #2


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    PhDs certainly appear to have an advantage in obtaining residencies compared to MSc graduates from what I've seen recently, but that doesn't meant that an MSc graduate can't get a job. I know many who have. In my opinion, the MSc just means that you need to be more flexible with where you want to go.

    Of course the "popular" strategy right now among med phys grad students appears to be see what you can get with an MSc and if you're not happy with that, stay on for a PhD.

    Assuming you're in the US, look up the ABR (not AAPM) eligibility requirements to get a clear idea on them for yourself. The key point, as I understand it, is that you need to be aiming for a CAMPEP-accredited residency if you want to finish your certification exams.

    Things you can do to improve your chances of getting a job depend on what kind of job you want, I suppose. Some of these might seem obvious...

    (1) Conduct your graduate studies as if you were already a professional medical physicist. This means everything from being diligent about procedures to following hospital dress codes to showing up early (or at least on time) to typing emails properly. Remember your instructors will be the ones in a position to hire you or at minimum provide reference letters. You job interview starts on your first day of class.

    (2) Develop a versatile skill set. In most larger centres there are opportunities for QA work or for commissioning new equipment. Your research project is a one (ableit big) dimension to your graduate work, but it doesn't need to be the only part. If you get involved with a few side projects it can really bolster the skills you can put on your application.

    (3) Network. Take advantage of conferences to present your work. Chat with people at poster sessions. Develop relationships with people in other disciplines. I've had some great research opportunities come out of chats with radiation biologists, for examples.

    (4) Take your time in chosing a research project. This will become your personal area of expertise and something you're going to spend a lot of time on. It will likely be one of the first things pther medical physicists ask you about (in job interviews anyway).

    (5) Take your time in chosing a supervisor. Where have this person's past students ended up? What do her or his current student's think about her or him? Do you see yourself as being compatible with this person's mentoring style?

    (6) Certification is a big one. As I said above, you should be aiming to get into an accredited residency and of course, one of the best ways to do this is to come through an accredited program.
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