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What should I look for in a medical physics program?

Main Question or Discussion Point

I am currently a senior physics student looking at a number of medical physics graduate programs - I'm hoping to get an M.S., as I'm really more interested in the clinical side of things. I've had a couple offers already, but I'm having a difficult time nailing down which program I should choose. All of the programs I have applied to are CAMPEP accredited, but beyond that, what should I look for in an M.S. program that would make me as competitive as possible for a residency in the next few years?
 

Answers and Replies

DEvens
Education Advisor
Gold Member
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I can't give you any specific advice because I'm a nuke. So I can't tell you which program is for you. But one trick to finding the right school is this. Get yourself the issue of Physics Today (or similar magazine) that shows where recent grads from that school have gotten jobs. Possibly you can Google this result for some schools. Look at where those grads got jobs and see if you like those places. Your university library will almost certainly be able to give you more hints in this direction.
 
I can't give you any specific advice because I'm a nuke. So I can't tell you which program is for you. But one trick to finding the right school is this. Get yourself the issue of Physics Today (or similar magazine) that shows where recent grads from that school have gotten jobs. Possibly you can Google this result for some schools. Look at where those grads got jobs and see if you like those places. Your university library will almost certainly be able to give you more hints in this direction.
Thanks! I'll make sure to do that!
 
Choppy
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
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Well you've got the CAMPEP-thing nailed down.

Things that I (speaking as a medical physicist) would look at:
  • Access to modern equipment and facilities. Is the program affiliated with a hospital? What imaging an treatment modalities are available there? Has anything new been installed recently?
  • Hands-on experience with that equipment. Most students won't get to use hospital equipment freely, but are you going to get through the program without ever having touched a linac?
  • An empahsis on the physics of medical physics compared to rote regurgitation of the didactic material. Technology in medical physics changes quickly. The physics doesn't change that much. (Flags to look for might include lax admission standards compared to other programs, students who tell you the course work is easy compared to undergrad, minimal research done by faculty...)
  • Opportunities to do QA work - both for reasons of pay and gaining practical, relevant experience.
  • Research interests of the faculty. Are you interested in existing projects? Note that even for someone primarily interested in clinical work an emphasis on research is important. In your career you're going to have to know how to assess and bring new technology into the clinic.
  • Another dimension of research that can be easily overlooked is commercialization opportunities. Over the years there have been lots of start-up companies that have come out of medical physics research. No everyone is interested in such things, but if I was a student today I would certainly factor this in.
  • Faculty dedicated teaching time. When you talk to current students, do they have regular meeting times with their supervisors? Are they happy with the quality of the lectures? Or are the faculty impossible to pin down due to clinical committments?
  • Where the graduates end up. Most accredited medical physics programs now publish such information online. Are the graduates getting residencies? Are they going places you could see yourself going?
  • Cost and finacial support. Also factor in cost of living.
  • Quality of extra-curricular life (available activities, groups, city life, commute times, weather, etc.) You don't want to be miserable in your down time.
 
Last edited:
Wow, that's actually really helpful! Thanks!
 

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