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Upenn Medical Physics Grad Program?

  1. UPenn - Master's of Medical Physics

  2. Vanderbilt U - Doctorate of Medical Physics

    0 vote(s)
  1. Feb 4, 2014 #1
    So I'm currently finishing up my undergraduate and heading to graduate school for medical physics. I have narrowed down which schools I want to go to to either UPenn or Vanderbilt U. UPenn would be for a Master's of Medical Physics with a concentration in radiotherapy and Vanderbilt U would be a Doctorate of Medical Physics with a concentration in radiotherapy. I would like to add that Vanderbilt is a four year program to which I would have to pay all four years. I'm looking for help from anyone who has experience in this field as to where I should go. Thank you.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2014 #2
    Vanderbilt is a great school and the guarantee of a two-year residency equivalent with the DMP is appealing...but paying for clinical training versus getting paid $45,000-50,000 per year for it? It is something to think about.

    I really don't know too much about UPenn, but it is accredited so there is that.

    If clinical work is what you are ultimately interested in and you are not interested in a Ph.D., have you considered the University of Kentucky (UK)? Along with Vanderbilt, UK has historically been one of the most clinically involved CAMPEP-accredited graduate programs. They now have a CAMPEP-accredited residency that accepts two students per year exclusively from their graduate program (so far). Students not going into the UK residency have been successful finding residency spots elsewhere. Last year 7 of 7 M.S. graduates found residency positions and the year before that 4 of 5 found residency positions. Lexington is also a beautiful area to work and live.

    (Disclaimer: I am a UK graduate)

    Are these the only two schools you plan on applying to? Graduate admissions in this field are particularly competitive and you would be well advised to have some other programs in mind just in case.

    Good luck.
  4. Feb 4, 2014 #3
    Thank you for your input. I applied to 10 schools in total. I have already been accepted into UPenn for their program and as far as statistics go, I had the lowest chance of getting in there so I'm pretty sure my chances of getting in at Vanderbilt are good. I actually just got back from an interview at UKy this past weekend and I was simply not impressed by their facilities. I did apply there but I don't plan on attending. UPenn has a very good rate of students finding residencies from what their data showed and they're working on a program to guarantee a residency for students graduating my year which is another reason they are so appealing for me. Anyway, I've narrowed my decision down to either UPenn or Vanderbilt so I'm really just curious about them two. UPenn is more my comfort level as far as the length of their program goes, and I would like to be paid for my residency, but I wanted a second opinion because last time I checked Vanderbilt's med school was ranked higher.
  5. Feb 4, 2014 #4
    Congratulations on being accepted, that is a great accomplishment!

    Do you mind if I ask you to elaborate on your interview experience at UK and what left you unimpressed, specifically? Feel free to message me privately if you would rather not answer publicly.

    Best of luck with your decision and with your education.
  6. Feb 4, 2014 #5


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    I'm not particularly familiar with either program, but I would raise a couple flags about a DMP (paying for a residency) program.

    1. Some people are admitted to medical physics programs that just shouldn't be in them - despite the fierce competition and screening. Guaranteeing a residency to a student who's just been admitted from undergrad removes a bottleneck from the process. Allowing students who otherwise wouldn't qualify for a residency to proceed is not fair to the student/resident, but also puts them in a position to do a lot of harm.

    2. A resident is not the same as a student. While a residency is a learning position, the resident provides valuable services to the hospital. They do a lot of QA work and commissioning work. They generate and check treatment plans and move clinical projects forward that would otherwise stagnate. Many of them also advance research projects as well, acting as hybrid post-doctoral researchers. I feel that it's only fair that residents be rewarded for their services.

    3. The impression that I'm under is that such programs don't have the same type of research focus as a traditional MSc program that has the student complete and defend a master's thesis. Because medical physics is such a rapidly changing field that research experience is invaluable. Even if you only want to do "clinical" medical physics in your career, I would still favor a "thesis-based" rather than a "course based" model.

    On a somewhat different note, you mentioned medical school ranking. This will have no bearing on the quality of the medical physics program or your employment prospects after graduating.
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