PhD in Medical Physics vs Biomedical Engineering

In summary: I think it's safe to say that the title will not play a huge role in the ability to be successful in radiology. The research and clinical experience will be more important.
  • #1
snatchingthepi
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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
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!
 
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  • #3
Choppy said:
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
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.
 

Related to PhD in Medical Physics vs Biomedical Engineering

1. What is the difference between a PhD in Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering?

A PhD in Medical Physics focuses on the application of physics principles to the field of medicine, specifically in areas such as radiation therapy, imaging, and diagnostics. On the other hand, a PhD in Biomedical Engineering combines principles from engineering, biology, and medicine to develop new technologies and devices for healthcare.

2. Which field offers better job opportunities?

Both fields offer excellent job opportunities, but it ultimately depends on your interests and career goals. Medical physicists are in high demand in hospitals, cancer treatment centers, and research labs, while biomedical engineers can work in a variety of industries, including medical device companies, pharmaceuticals, and government agencies.

3. What are the required qualifications for a PhD in Medical Physics or Biomedical Engineering?

Typically, a bachelor's degree in physics, engineering, or a related field is required for a PhD in Medical Physics or Biomedical Engineering. However, some programs may accept students with a strong background in mathematics or biology. Additionally, most programs require applicants to have a high GPA and strong letters of recommendation.

4. Can I pursue a career in both fields with a PhD in either Medical Physics or Biomedical Engineering?

Yes, it is possible to have a career in both fields with a PhD in either Medical Physics or Biomedical Engineering. Many professionals in these fields work on interdisciplinary projects and collaborate with experts from different backgrounds. However, it may be beneficial to have a strong foundation in both physics and engineering to be successful in both fields.

5. How long does it take to complete a PhD in Medical Physics or Biomedical Engineering?

The length of a PhD program can vary, but on average, it takes 4-6 years to complete a PhD in Medical Physics or Biomedical Engineering. This time frame may also depend on factors such as research progress, coursework requirements, and the time needed to complete a dissertation. It is important to carefully consider the time commitment and requirements of each program before making a decision.

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