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Physics self study for a Medical Student

  1. Jun 8, 2009 #1
    I'm a second year Indian medical student, and I've been interested in physics all my life, but didn't pursue a career because a) I'm a little slow in math and b) come on, I'm Indian, I have to be a doctor.

    I want to go into radiology, specifically nuclear medicine, (https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=6780"), so I figured I would try to slide in some research and also give myself a more structured physics foundation.

    I want to self study physics, leaning towards biophysics/nuclear medicine/Radiation. I plan to spend 9 hours a week over the next 3.5 years, so I have some time to really build on the basics. My questions are

    a) Is my plan to build a physics foundation a sound plan?

    b) What kind of curriculum or study plan do you suggest? I think I have to start with General physics then work my way smaller, but you would know better than me. If you can tell me the subjects in the order they should be studied, I would be greatly appreciative. Also any supplemental subjects, like Math that I should at least brush up on.

    c) I'm in India, so I'll be using online sources and (eh) Indian textbooks. Not that they're bad content wise, but they're not very easy to follow for beginners. So any alternatives would be nice.

    d) I'm probably missing something. Like the big picture. If I am, please enlighten me.


    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 8, 2009 #2
    Hi there,

    It always matter what you call basic phyiscs. A sound understanding of classical problems in mechanics, electromagnetic, modern physics is always a good start for any studies that require advance physic knowledge.

    After that, if your plan is to study radiology, you will need some knowledge of particle physics, atomic and nuclear physics, and it might be useful to understand some concepts of electrodynamic.

    Before going any further into any of these subjects, on your own, why don't you pass by a physics professor at your university to have some advice on the books and litterature available. Don't forget that professors are there to help you in your academic career, eventhough sometimes it seems otherwise.

  4. Jun 8, 2009 #3
    1.Second year ? you are so very young.
    2.I advise not think school text book that way. school is bigger than you, teachers is better than you (esp. life-wise).
    3. i suggest visit physicsforums often so you learn things about subject major you wish
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  5. Jun 9, 2009 #4


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    It's interesting to me that you didn't need to learn physics to get into medical school. In the US, it's mandatory to know physics to get into med school, precisely because there are specialties like radiology that require some working knowledge of the subject.

    As a radiologist, you don't need to know physics to the extent that a physics major or engineer developing, designing and building the machines needs to know the subject, but you do need some basic understanding.

    Since you say you're slow in math, I would recommend you strengthen your knowledge in that area first. I don't think you'll find physics easy to self-study if you don't have a strong math foundation. Once you have a strong grasp of the math, then for your purposes, you could likely self-study enough physics to learn what you need. If you want to learn more than just the essentials of what you need, then self-study may not be adequate.
  6. Jun 10, 2009 #5
    are two cups of tee. From my understanding of the job, a radiologist needs to have more than basic knowledge in physics, not to the extent of an engineer, but still. You will need to understand precisely the nature of radiation to be able to deliver the correct amount. This also implies that you will need to understand the difference between a ambient dose rate, an effective dose rate and all the other terms used in the business.

    But the advice of strengtening your math knowledge is probably the first solution.

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