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Outlook for imaging physicists

  1. Apr 9, 2015 #1
    I have a PhD in medical physics from the MD Anderson CAMPEP program and I even took ABR step 1 (just prior to the cut off for residency requirements). Are there any imaging physicists here? Woudl really like to get your feedback on the current outlook for diagphys careers. I have not been having much luck even getting an interview. Almost every job is a therapy/radphys job.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2015 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Perhaps you could check out the companies that make imaging devices like Catscans and MRI units.

    GE and Siemens come to mind.
  4. Apr 9, 2015 #3


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    I'm a therapy physicist. If you lump diagnostic imaging together with MRI and nuclear medicine physicists, you get roughly 20% of the population of medical physicists, so DI is certainly a much smaller branch, which is why it's a lot harder to find the positions in the first place.

    I've always thought that DI physicists, in principle, could have a much larger number of positions than they actually do, simply because of the vast number of imaging devices used. However (perhaps some state-specific cases aside) there's no major legislation that I'm aware of that says you need to have a DI physicist commission or QA or in any way be involved with your imaging equipment on a clinical level. And often the technologists operating the units are quite capable of performing the necessary QA testing, and the vendors then address any issues when the equipment begins operating outside of recommended tolerances. I think the major need for DI physicists comes in when you're pushing the boundaries of the technology (I could be wrong on this though). Unless this changes, I suspect that DI physics positions are going to track roughly with therapy positions (growing as a result of increased number of people getting cancer), but the ratio will likely remain the same.
  5. Apr 10, 2015 #4
    The AAPM (are you a member?) lists only 7 full time DI positions out of almost 40 positions. I am a retired MP mostly RT but had significant experience in DI and RS. A recent (last fall) bulletin board posting on the AAPM site discussed DI Phys. opportunities and needs. mostly from the aspect when can you hire a DI Phys. to take the load of a therapy phys who covers DI as many solo practicing physics do or did. A big issue is that it is hard to justify the salary of such person in most community hospitals since this position generate no revenue. But having a therapy physicist covering DI is becoming more difficult if not impossible with the intensive work currently required in RT and ACR certifcation programs for DI. In my case I declined to cover DI for that reason and the hospital hired a private MP company do the special QA for CT, MRI, and Mammo as well as quarterly NM inspections and some RS activities. Routine QA for standard x-ray and daily suggested QA for CT, MRI, etc was left up to the techs. For a new MP as your self if you are willing to do some therapy as well as diagnostic and radiation safety you might be a welcome addition to a MP staff in a community hospital.( although I am not absolutely positive the current acceptability of such an arrangement), Alternately you might consider private MP services such as contracting between several local hospitals to cover DI and RS to split the financial burden. Have you attended the annual AAPM meetings to network with members to get ideas as well as post your availability. You will also be able to talk to DI equipment vendors about opportunities.
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