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Soon to be MS Physics Graduate (medical physics)

  1. Jun 26, 2014 #1
    Hello all, this fall I will be beginning my second year in a CAMPEP Medical Physics graduate program.
    I have a very big dilemma. with the new rules in by CAMPEP, I NEED to get into a CAMPEP residency in order to become ABR certified, however most of those residencies are either taken by PhDs or some only accept PhD.

    So my question is, is it possible for me to work as Junior Physicist in a small clinic for a while and hope the number of residencies increase and apply or is it better for me to get an industry job with my MS in physics?

    Honestly my advice to students pursuing a Medical Physics degree, this career is starting to become VERY narrow.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 26, 2014 #2


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    It is possible to work as a junior physicist, although those positions can be rare to find.

    I know there are efforts under way by the AAPM to address the issue of MSc graduates getting residencies. The unfortunate consequence of the residency requirement is that it seems to be presenting an obstacle to MSc grads entering the profession, and in many cases those are the ones in demand at the clinical level.

    Getting an industrial position is another option. I know a few people who have been successful in this path, who have later returned and completed a PhD and then residency.

    One of the unfortunate issues in the field is that there is still generally a demand for qualified medical physicists, but we've introduced a bottleneck to getting good people qualified.
  4. Jun 26, 2014 #3
    I see. I'm beginning my job search now, trying to develop as many contacts as possible. I believe these junior positions aren't even advertised?
    What is your advice on going about to find a junior position or a position in industry by the time I graduate (May 2015). I will be taking part 1 of the ABR next year, but in regards to the current CAMPEP requirements I know I have no hope at residencies at the moment.

    I am very frustrated with CAMPEP at the moment. I feel like the only reason they are forcing the residency is to make it comparable to Physicians. I was going through severe depression the other night, realizing that my MS degree in MP may become useless and I wasted 2 years.
  5. Jun 27, 2014 #4


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    Well, most are advertised to some level, but a lot of positions will only be advertised for a short period of time on a local hospital's website. This is usually because there are often internal candidates for such positions - students who have done projects at the site, for example. In such cases where you already have a qualifed, well-liked candidate, advertising is often a formality.

    One of the best things to do is to try and attend conferences. It really gives you an opportunity to speak with potential employers, vendors and other physicists who have recently been in your position. If you present a talk, even better. Also, it's important to talk to physicists who aren't hiring. Medical physics is a small community and people talk. You can also talk with vendors too. There are a number of smaller companies that hire medical physics graduates in addition to the big guns. I know that conferences can be expensive though, but sometimes as a student you can have your fees reduced/covered if you volunteer to help.

    I'm not sure why you feel you have "no hope at residencies." While it is more common for PhD students to be hired, this is not always the case. One of the initiatives that the AAPM has put forth recently is this idea about "hub and spoke" model residencey programs where you have a larger institution act as an administrative hub and the residents work in a series of smaller mentor institutions that otherwise wouldn't be able to take on a resident. Without saying anything officially I think the idea is to offer something for MSc graduates who are interested in diving into clinical work right away.

    I know it looks that way, but I'm sure as you are learning, medical physics plays a huge role in the quality and safety of radiation procedures. One of the tools for this lies with establishing basic competancies within the profession. In the absence a formalized residency program, one of the issues that came up was that junior physicists or "residents" were often hired in the past as way of using hospital funds to pay for a post-doctoral researcher. The resident would work on a project for a couple of years and get little clinical training and then be dumped into a clinical position that he or she wasn't ready for. And that wasn't any good for anyone.

    It can be tough when your future is not certain. Is there any reason you don't want to do a PhD?
  6. Jun 28, 2014 #5
    First Thankyou for your reply, it was very informative and especially thanks for your advice.
    I would say that the Medical Physics field is definitely going to grow in the 10 years, and I've heard that ABR certified physicists have no trouble finding jobs, just getting past residency is the hard part.

    The main reason I don't want to do a PhD is because I'm really burned out from studying, I honestly don't have anymore stamina to continue studying, also if I were to pursue a PhD I really need to review all of undergraduate physics which I'm a bit rusty on, I really just enjoy studying about radiation.

    I'm not interested in doing research either HOWEVER I understand that even clinical physicists need to stay up to date on the latest techniques and technology that is rapidly changing.

    I am aware that some CAMPEP graduate programs have a high residency acceptance rate for MSc students, mainly the ones that have a residency attached to their graduate program.

    I just hope more residencies become accredited, I believe one of the main issues is funding. Atleast in USA, where most of the Medical Residencies get their funding from Medicare the Physics residences are funded by the institution themselves hence only 1-2 position.

    I'm sure CAMPEP realizes that with the current trend of graduating Medical Physicists from residencies there really will be a shortage in the next 10 years.

    In the meantime my post graduation plan assuming I dont get into a residency will be to try and find an industry position or work in radiation safety.

    Again thank you for your advice.
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