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Theoretical Particle Physics or Medical Physics?

  1. Sep 7, 2015 #1
    Hi everyone! I'm a newbie in this forum. And I need your help for making the right career path for my future. I've been graduated from Physics three months ago and I took some exams (like TOEFL and GRE) for applying master's degrees programs in Turkey.

    I'm from Kosovo and Kosovo is a developing country. Which means, in here, physicist does not have a role in the industry. Furthermore, in here we don't have many universities, research areas etc..

    I'm not a harworking, excellence student. I'm just a curious, and who wants to work on some field which I really like.
    I limited my options with Theorical Particle Physics and Medical Physics. Both of the departments are located in Turkey and one of them (TPP) is in the same university where I've been graduated. The situation for TPP in Turkey is same as in my own country. İt means I have to go for Doctoral degree and that might be problem for me because I need money or earn a scholarship. On the other hand, Medical Physicist have an advantage of working in the hospitals (in Turkey). But most importantly, I did not get the enough points from those test for applying Medical Physics. So I get a bit confused. I'm really looking forward for your suggestions.

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 7, 2015 #2
  4. Sep 7, 2015 #3
  5. Sep 7, 2015 #4


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    Welcome to the forums Erbilsilik!

    One of the key differences between medical physics and many other branches of physics, such as theoretical particle physics, is that it comes with a profession. As you say, medical physicists work in hospitals - usually radiation therapy centres - providing a healthcare service. Because of this there tend to be more field-specific career options for medical physics graduates. In the academic branches, you face the common challenges of academia. The prospects for becoming a professor aren't usually all that great (I don't know about the specific situation in Kosovo or Turkey), which means that at some point you will need to figure out how to transition from academia to the workforce. Lots of people do this successfully, of course, but it can be a bumpy road.

    I don't know much about the process for becoming a medical physicist where you are, but I believe that currently it's a lot less formal than the process in North America. That said, the International Organisation of Medical Physicists (IOMP) is currently spearheading an initiative to introduce a common international board exam for developing countries. Last I heard this was still 2-3 years away, which means that if you're a student looking to get into the field now, it would be a good idea to make sure your studies are preparing you for it.

    Some people find that medical physics doesn't include as much "physics" as they might like. You're not going to discover a new particle, or develop any new fundamental rules by which the universe behaves. It tends to be a lot more like engineering in that you're spending your time working on practical problems... What does this error mean and what does it imply for patient treatment?... How can we design the process for implementing this new technique so that it's done safely?... Are the machines operating within tolerance? And the research component focuses on how we can improve the radiotherapy and imaging processes.
  6. Sep 7, 2015 #5
    Thank you for your response. I made my choice on TPP because I didn't get enough points from the exams. (it doesn't meet the criteria for medical physics) But as you said, it's kind of bumpy road to choosing another field rather than medical. And for this reason, I'm considering to change the field, taking those exams in the next semester.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2015
  7. Sep 7, 2015 #6
    Can anyone explain to me what it is like to be a Theorical Particle Physicist? I've asked this question one of my professors and he said:
    İf you're going to make a research than you need choose a good place that has got a reputation in that specialized field. Otherwise you will be disappointed, and will not gain any experince (instead of academic). İt would be very helpfull to hear something from the first hand.
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