PhD in Medical Physics vs Biomedical Engineering

  • #1
I have two paths I can take in my graduate studies. I'm currently an MSc student studying hybrid PET-MR systems in a medical physics program. My advisor is adjunct to the department of biomedical engineering, as well as the medical physics department. We were discussing doctoral work and it came up that I could pursue the same research with her through either department. If it matters, this work would be a project involving machine learning and small-scale MR scanners.

I was weighing some pros and cons in my mind about either option, and the only real difference that stuck to me is that the medical physics program at my institution is CAMPEP certified. And the coursework would be somewhat different.

I'm wondering if anyone here has any opinion and experience in the nuance of degree titles, and if they really matter in different places, or it's the research that is truly important.
 

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  • #2
Choppy
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I think a lot can depend on what you want to end up doing career wise.

Medical Physics is the way to go if you're interested in a clinically oriented career. Though competitive, the profession tends to be less competitive than academia. And the pay tends to be pretty decent. You would have to do a residency following your PhD though, and that tends to be one of the bottlenecks in the field. I wrote an Insights Article about it a few years ago here.

If you're specifically interested in continuing in MR research, it's less necessary to go the medical physics route. Lots of people go through BME and go on to do MR research, but there aren't necessarily as many positions. In radiation oncology, over the next decade or so, I think we're likely to see a ramp-up of linac-MRI hybrid machines and so the need for MRI-physicists will go up, but then you'll also likely see a shift toward credentialling. Personally I would predict that the demand for MRI-certified medical physicists will go up. But then so will the demand for the more academic guys who've come through the BME route.

Either way, your project sounds pretty cool!
 
  • #3
I think a lot can depend on what you want to end up doing career wise.

Medical Physics is the way to go if you're interested in a clinically oriented career. Though competitive, the profession tends to be less competitive than academia. And the pay tends to be pretty decent. You would have to do a residency following your PhD though, and that tends to be one of the bottlenecks in the field. I wrote an Insights Article about it a few years ago here.

If you're specifically interested in continuing in MR research, it's less necessary to go the medical physics route. Lots of people go through BME and go on to do MR research, but there aren't necessarily as many positions. In radiation oncology, over the next decade or so, I think we're likely to see a ramp-up of linac-MRI hybrid machines and so the need for MRI-physicists will go up, but then you'll also likely see a shift toward credentialling. Personally I would predict that the demand for MRI-certified medical physicists will go up. But then so will the demand for the more academic guys who've come through the BME route.

Either way, your project sounds pretty cool!

Thank you very much Choppy. So from what I'm hearing, as far as my particular position goes, the different titles are largely equivalent. Especially if I have an MSc in medical physics?
 
  • #4
Choppy
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Sure, if you have an MSc from an accredited medical physics program, I would agree that the details of *what* you accomplish with your PhD are more important than what the PhD says. Perhaps the only potential caveate there is that you don't want to take too long to complete the PhD. While I don't think there's an expiry on when you need to have graduated from an accredited program, you might find yourself less competitive if you eventually want to get into say, a therapy residency if that last time you touched a linac was seven years ago.
 

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