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Physics Medical physics?

  1. Sep 23, 2008 #1
    Thank you in advance to anyone who actually manages to read this :)

    I left school at 16 (I live in the UK) and wanted to go to college to get some A-levels. Everything went direly wrong for me and I ended up homeless and unable to afford to live and go to college.

    Fast forward 6 years and I am now a Open University student. I have completed the 1st year towards a Bsc (hons) Physical sciences and I now have 3 years to go. I am interested in medical physics and the OU do a Msc in medical physics.

    During all of this I don't have a placement year so would it be worthwhile getting a part time job at the hospital or a carehome (I haven't seen any jobs in the medical physics department). The jobs which I could apply for would be a cleaner or nursing auxiliary.

    Also is there anything else which would help me to get a job in this field?

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 23, 2008 #2


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    I wouldn't have thought it was worthwhile getting a minimal wage job in a hospital if you want to be a medical physicist.
    I would write to all the medical physics depts in hospitals near you, explain what you are doign and ask if you can do any work experience there ( uk term for internship). You should also ask your tutors/lecturers if they know anyone, or have any contacts you can approach.
    It might be more difficult now in the UK with the requirement to get all sorts of background checks, but these may not apply if you are only working with the machines / the data.
  4. Sep 23, 2008 #3
    talk w/ your counselor to make sure there exists jobs in the medical physics field.

    if these jobs are too rare, why dont you try nursing? You know for SURE you'll get a job there. Make sure you don't spend tons of time studying something where you'll have lil chances of getting a job, all that tuition will go to waste.
  5. Sep 23, 2008 #4
    I'm a grad student in the OU medical physics program and if you are looking for advice i can help you with a few pointers. The best resource for medical physicists in the US is the AAPM website here you can find a listing CAMPEP approved programs in the US and Canada. Most programs currently require a B.S. in Physics, Nuke E, Elec E, or related fields plus anatomy and physiology. It sounds like you are only a sophomore in college which means your path to a medical physics job will be a little more difficult as the ABR will soon be requireing a residency before being allowed to sit for board exams (there aren't too many residencies and they are highly competative). Also CAMPEP programs are fairly competative with programs only accepting a handful of students and as few as 1 per year. You will also be in competition with phds looking to change fields (we have a few). I'm not trying to scare you off (if i can make it in anyone can) just letting you know that we are a field in transition. Again AAPM will be your best resource. Study hard a solid background in Physics will be your best foot in the door. Good luck.
  6. Sep 24, 2008 #5


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    Students in the US often try to gain experience by working in research labs, particularly university labs. The work can be more scientific and rewarding than emptying bed pans, but there's usually no pay. You might be able to arrange for academic credit for "Independent Research". Work over several summers and/or school years can add up to a valuable portfolio of experience, and also (if you do good work) result in valuable recommendations from the principal investigators.
  7. Oct 1, 2008 #6

    I am a recent Medical Physics BSc graduate from UCL, so I might be of some help. Medical Physics is a fascinating field. However, I do recommend that you spent a little time deciding on whether you want to work in the academic, industrial, or clinical settings. Medical Physics is multi-disciplinary, which in this particular case is another way of saying that its a bit vague. Employment in this field is far-in-between. Its a very small field compared to accounting and so forth. Plus you have to take into account the pay package. In my graduating class of about 15, only 2 plan to remain in the field. But its a good degree, if you want to join the city.
  8. Oct 1, 2008 #7


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    As far as jobs go you might want to contact the medical physics department that you're looking at rather than just looking for posted jobs. Medical physicts are often responsible for a lot of very routine QA work and some departments will higher "physics techs" at the B.Sc. level, or students (usually grad students though) to assist with this work. Such jobs may not formally be posted.

    Other than that, a part-time job is a part time job. Through grad school I had a part-time job as an auxiliary officer with my campus constabulary. Previous experience in a hospital setting doesn't really count for much. If you want something that will help you develop useful skills for the field, look at getting lab experience, or jobs that involve programming, electronics or even experience in a machine shop.

    Or, if you're more instersted in working directly with patients, you could look into a career as a radiation therapist. The pay is great, there's a big demand, and it doesn't take nearly as long to get in.
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