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Programs Want to quit job to do a full time ms and phd in medical physics

  1. Mar 14, 2012 #1

    Physics_UG

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    So I would like to do an MS in medical physics from a CAMPEP accredited program. Ultimately, I would want a PhD in medical physics. I currently have a job that I obtained with my electrical engineering degree in the automotive industry. I also have 50K in student loans from undergrad. I previously was enrolled in a full time PhD program but I left after about 2 years in because I did not like the research I was doing. I am also 26 years old.

    I want to quit my job and do the medical physics MS full time funded by student loans. It will cost about 20K in total to get the MS. The university I would go to is local so I could live at home with my parents to save some money. My parents want me to keep the job and do a masters in electrical engineering part time. I hate my job. It is the most boring job in the world. All I do is drive around flashing radio software all day. I think they are afraid I will end up not being interested again and quit like I did the last PhD program.

    I would have a MS in medical physics but my total debt would be brought up to about 70K. Will the salary I could make with the MS in medical physics justify the debt? I have read that the average salary for a MS in medical phys was around 95K.

    Doing the MS in medical physics part time while I work is out of the question as the classes aren't all offered at night time.

    What do you think guys?

    Thanks
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 14, 2012 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    You mean the last three PhD programs, don't you?

    Your parents have a point. You've tried this three times, what makes you think the outcome will be different this time? If you can't answer that, the outcome will be the same.

    I think you also need to understand something. Scientific research is boring. Most of it involves checking and rechecking and checking again - over and over and over and over. It's not a discovery every day. If you can't handle monotony, you should do something else for a living - you will not be happy doing science.
     
  4. Mar 14, 2012 #3

    Physics_UG

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    actually, just one phd program. it was the same program each time, but I did go back three times.

    and I might just do an MS and not do the PhD. There is not research in the MS program.

    And I definoitely can't handle monotony, but I think every job out there has monotonous aspects.
     
  5. Mar 14, 2012 #4

    Pyrrhus

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    Have you though that perhaps the MS in EE will open doors to new opportunities?

    I am not sure if you should go for MS EE as you went before for PhD in EE. Are you going to another school? or the same school your dropped out three times?.

    I think MS EE part time should be doable, if you take the professional route. Take a plan for coursework only MS or a MS with coursework and a project. Don't do the thesis.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
  6. Mar 14, 2012 #5

    Physics_UG

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    I have thought abut this and hve some credits that will transfer into the program. I'm just not sure I am interested in pure EE anymore and want to do something that helps people directly, but also has physics involved.
     
  7. Mar 14, 2012 #6
    I think most CAMPEP accredited programs will have some sort of research component. It may not be a thesis-based degree but some research will almost certainly be expected.

    And there is some monotony in medical physics as well. I would say the majority of us really enjoy our jobs but no one could deny that some parts of what we do are repetitive.

    If you are interested in clinical work then don't forget about the two-year residency requirement following completion of graduate school.
     
  8. Mar 14, 2012 #7

    Physics_UG

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    Also, I am grossly underpaid at my current job. I have received 2 offers in the past 2 months for better paying jobs but both jobs ended up falling through, unfortunately.
     
  9. Mar 14, 2012 #8

    Pyrrhus

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    Another important question, when will this MS Medical Physics start paying off? Can you go with increased debt, just because?
     
  10. Mar 14, 2012 #9

    Choppy

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    Why not aim for one of the programs that supports its students rather than take on debt? Often medical physics students will have opportunities for support through part-time clinical QA positions. So those are worth factoring into the equation, but do your research. They aren't always guaranteed.

    It doesn't sound like a completely baseless fear. Have you job-shadowed a medical physicist? Have you visited a medical physics graduate program and spoken with the professors and students? Have you attended any medical physics seminars? These kinds of things will help you to get a good idea of what a medical physicist does and whether it might be the right kind of fit for you.

    Assuming that you:
    1. Successfully complete the program.
    2. Are successful in obtaining a residency.
    3. Successfully complete the residency.
    4. Pass your board exams.
    5. Get hired as a full-time medical physicist in a competative market.
    Then, the average salary is worth taking on some debt. $70k is a lot though. I would make every effort possible to minimize it.
     
  11. Mar 14, 2012 #10

    Choppy

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    A program that contains "no research" is a major flag for me. Not only will it deny you a major component of the training I feel a medical physicist needs, but it will make you less competative for residency and medical physicist positions. Often residents are expected to work as quasi post-docs.

    As EricVT said, even if the program isn't thesis-based, it will likely have some sort of research project.


    Medical physics has its share of monotony. One of the primary roles of medical physicists is quality control. That means measuring the same thing over and over to prove that it's operating within tolerance.
     
  12. Mar 14, 2012 #11
    Nope. You lack motivation, are bored by research and 'technical aspects of things' and you dropped out of grad school three separate times. You will go into this, accrue a ton of debt, and then quit again. You don't even seem to know WHAT a medical physicist does. Do what you want but when you come back in a year with $30k+ debt and another reason why whatever you were doing was too boring or stupid or tedious, I will not really be surprised. Do some research and for ****'s sake be honest with yourself. I don't know if you just enjoy the idea of being a scientist or if you once had a passion for it, but I would figure that out first.
     
  13. Mar 15, 2012 #12
    I admire your persistence but not your determination. The 4th time probably won't be the charm because the track record speaks for itself. If you're self studying the material on your own then I would say that you're ready to go back, otherwise I would stay put at your job until that point happens.

    When I was working I would always bring some physics book with me for breaks and I was still learning after I got home at night. This grew even more until the time came that I was ready to go back for my PhD. If I would have gone straight into a PhD or even a year or two after I probably would have failed out because I was so burned out from my undergrad degree.

    By the way, Vanadium 50 speaks the truth.
     
  14. Mar 15, 2012 #13
    I find it curious that you haven't told anyone *why* you want to do a MS or a PhD. You pointed out many reasons why it would be impractical to go back now, but you didn't tell us anything about why you actually *want* to do it. What's so important about doing something different - a MS or PhD in medical physics in this case - that you would take so much effort to do it? (And I mean exactly what you want to do. I know you're dissatisfied with your current job, but why a MS or a PhD?) That's not a rhetorical question. You need a real answer.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2012
  15. Mar 15, 2012 #14

    Physics_UG

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    Well, I think I am going to keep my job and do a part time MSEE instead. I searched monster.com and careerbuilder for med physics jobs and there was one opening in michigan and only two pages of openings across the country. No thanks

    Thanks for your advice everyone.
     
  16. Mar 15, 2012 #15

    Choppy

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    That's fine if you don't want to pursue it, but just so others are aware, monster.com is NOT the place to go to look for jobs in medical physics. Many medical physics jobs are internal hires - meaning that the hospitals will hire directly out of their own residency programs and the positions are posted only to satisfy the minimum legal/union requirements that apply. That means it will go up on an internal website for a very short period of time. I don't know how monster or other generic want-add websites work, but it would seem unlikely that such adds would make it to them.

    The AAPM and other professional websites are big for medical physics jobs. And of course, many unlisted jobs are found through networking - particularly at conferences.

    All of that being said, you're looking at a field that has a hiring rate of ~ 100 - 300 jobs per year in the US. Chances are that graduates WILL have to relocate to find a position.
     
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