Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

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he4egamma
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby he4egamma » Sun Dec 06, 2009 3:55 am

I know U of Texas at San Antonio is easy to get into for a MSc, maybe the same for a PhD. Also you might consider other PhD programs related to medical physics that may have access to a radiation oncology dept. who you could do a project with. Such as biomedical sciences, bioengineering, biophysics, etc. If your career goal is mainly clinical and you already have a MSc in medical physics you can pretty much chose anything that is remotely related to medical physics and be perceived as having a PhD in medical physics when it comes to getting a clinical job. In terms of more competitive, I would say UW Madison is one of the more competitive.

jlynn
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby jlynn » Sat Dec 12, 2009 1:11 am

Somehow I came across this discussion by a chance Google search and felt like I needed to register and put in my two cents. I am currently in my second year of a two-year M.S. program in Medical Physics (Radiation-Therapy concentration). I don't see a need to name my particular program, but it is CAMPEP accredited (and has been for a long time) and has a nice history of producing highly qualified physicists who have been very successful in a range of endeavors.

The program I am in is highly focused on the clinical aspects of Medical Physics, and although we spend 3 semesters taking a larger number of didactic courses, the vast majority of our time from the moment we start the program until the day we graduate (including full-time summer responsibilities) is spent becoming very well integrated into the radiation medicine clinic. There have been weeks where I have spent upwards of 70 hours fulfilling clinical obligations on particular clinical rotations (though on average that number is closer to the standard 40). I think the difference here, for me, is that this department relies on its medical physics students to operate efficiently. The students warm up the treatment and diagnostic machines every morning and we shut them down at night. We do the treatment planning (under supervision by some wonderful dosimetrists and physicists), both external beam and brachytherapy. We check charts and treatment plans and perform the routine QA on the machines every day/week/month/year. We also join the physicians on patient consults and post-treatment follow-ups and are given the opportunity to understand that the patients are more than just a name and hospital number in your treatment planning computer.

I also have some wonderful experiences with my professors, especially one in particular who seems capable of lucidly explaining absolutely any topic that interests you. I've really gotten close to the faculty physicists, dosimetrists, nurses and therapists...and especially my fellow students who I will miss very very much when we all go our separate ways in the next few months.

When I was looking for a home for my graduate studies I was very interested in talking to as many of the current students as I could at the programs that I visited. One of the things which I asked everywhere I went was "Do you feel like you are part of the department? Do you feel like the department needs you and enjoys having you lending a hand in its day-to-day workings?" I definitely made my decision about the program that I would attend based on the response to those questions and on what I was able to get a sense of while touring the departments. Now, when prospective students come to this program to take a tour I always make sure I get a few minutes alone with them (or along with my fellow students) if I am available so that I can really tell them about the real student experience of the program and not whatever the program director might be trying to sell as the "student experience". Some people are more interested in research and didactic coursework than taking on a full-time, year-round clinical position for a negative salary...and I tell them that they should give some very serious thought to the program that they accept an offer from because finding a good match between the student and the program is one of the most crucial aspects of ensuring a fulfilling and meaningful graduate education.

That is the same sort of point I hope anyone reading this discussion takes away with them. Medical physics itself is not a good field or a bad field for everyone indiscriminately. Certain people have career and education expectations which are more in line with certain aspects of the field and less in line with other aspects (or not in line with any aspect of the field), and it is very important that everyone who is pondering entering the field spend some real time researching their options and speaking to the right people to get unbiased feedback about what to expect from each of those options.

Cheers.

alleluia
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby alleluia » Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:38 pm

he4egamma wrote:I will be graduating from a CAMPEP accredited program in June 2010. As others have already said, it's not for everyone. Especially, when you are coming from pure physics background. It can be an unexpected change of pace. That being said, I found my program extremely rewarding. Most of my professors were inspiring and lectured mostly on a genuine black board. Derivations were common along with calculus and differential equations. I felt my physics BSc was helpful, especially when dealing with wave-guides, scattering, Larmor, atomic physics, and others. Theoretical foundation is important in MP however, I would say it's even more important to have strong experimental skills, since it is a more 'shut-up and measure' type of field due to statistical complexities of radiation interaction with matter. As for memorization, it was a key component in my program, but it is hard to avoid when joining a medical profession. It is important to be capable of clinical judgements without having to refer to a book. This is a consequence of the professional aspect of MP. Most of our memorizing was graphs, constants, and terminology. The class I'm in have backgrounds in biomedical engineering, biophysics, physics and even a guy with a Ph.D. in astrophysics. We all struggled through the program, and used each others strengths to survive. So there are programs out there that are challenging and do have great professors.

MP gets a bad rap for being a mundane, repetitive, type of work. It is all in how you look at it. It's not mundane when your measurements have a direct impact on whether or not the patient lives or dies. And its not repetitive when you are faced with unusual cases that could take weeks to validate. But again, it can be both mundane, and repetitive, it comes with the territory of following protocol required to most accurately deliver treatment. MP has also been branded as a 'glorified technician'. In reality all clinical professionals are technicians, even the radiation oncologists. Patient care is very organized and many choices are made on practical science. Technician or not there still is a great deal of experimenting to create the very best treatment plan for an individual patient. There are times when the physician or medical physicist have to think outside the box and this is why problem solving skills stemming from physics become so important and where the technician aspect is removed.







I completely agree with he4egamma...Medical Physicists can help save lives. It's a gr8 satisfaction that u can get.

Btw, he4egamma, are you from India?

HowYouDoing
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby HowYouDoing » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:50 pm

I strongly suggest staying away from medical physics. Rather I suggest you take your excellent IQ and pursue a professional degree in either engineering, a medical doctorate or an MBA.

It is my experience that the medical physics field is over-saturated and this is only going to get worse over time. Consider this one idea: When you meet a medical physicist, you meet an individual who was capable (and lucky) enough to get that job. The reality is that you do not meet all of the other quite capable people who failed to make it.

People who are looking to fill the medical physics programs are academics who need students to fill their educational slots, or to do their manual labor for them while they sit in the office. As one former classmate of mine said, "I had so much work that I had to find myself a postdoc to keep up with the work load." That same former classmate hired a postdoc for his work. Notice that he did not "hire" a medical physicist. That exemplifies the reality of medicine and the medical physics profession.

ColumbiaMedPhys
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby ColumbiaMedPhys » Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:26 am

xxx
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HowYouDoing
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby HowYouDoing » Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:57 pm

To support my previous point here is a job advert from a "medical physicist". The first thing to note is that the individual is hiring two postdocs and not a permanent employee.

We seek two motivated postdoctoral researchers at the Ireland Cancer
Center and Case Western Reserve University in the Department of
Radiation Oncology, Division of Medical Physics and Dosimetry.
Candidates with a Ph.D. in computer science, physics, engineering or
related subject are invited to apply. She/He will conduct research in
image processing and accurate radiation treatment, and attend lectures
and seminars on the campus. These positions are funded by NIH.
Appointment is for one year and possibly extended to three years upon
performance. Significant programming experience with C++ and
optimization in addition to image processing course works at graduate
level is a must. We are encouraging only qualified and highly-motivated
candidates to apply for these positions. Understanding system control
and biometrics will be a plus, but it is not a must. Interested
individuals should send a cover letter, CV and three references to Jason
W. Sohn, Ph.D., Department of Radiation Oncology, Ireland Cancer Center,
LTR 6068, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland,
OH.

This posting was made on:

Jan 7, 2010
March 29, 2007
Jul 25, 2006
Apr 28, 2006

and in earlier years was sponsored by the Susan Kolmen Foundation.

Some background information:

Ph.D. in 1998 from the Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, OH
Master in 1989 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
The individual has been a member of the AAPM since 1990 but the professional organization lists it as 1982.
Classmates who graduated with him in 1998 are Steve Bin Jiang, Ph.D. and Todd Allan Pawlicki, Ph.D.
Last edited by HowYouDoing on Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sloguy
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby sloguy » Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:00 pm

How you doing:
Can you expand on your point? I'm sure there is a reason why all that extra information was listed at the end of your post, but I don't understand what is meant by it (but I would like to try to understand)....
Last edited by sloguy on Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

HowYouDoing
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby HowYouDoing » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:10 pm

You need to perform case studies on what you will have to go through to land a job. You can also infer past and future hiring trends in the medical physics profession.

For example the current head of the UCSD program Todd Pawlicki took over in 2006. Since then he has hired Steve Jiang and Grace Gwe-Ya Kim. Steve Jiang is a former classmate who also worked at Stanford and it looks like Todd Pawlicki met Grace Kim at Stanford.

Todd Pawlicki
1992-1994 Instructor (Univ of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA)
1994 West Virginia University
1998-2000 Post-Doctoral Fellow (Stanford University, Stanford, CA)
2000-2006 Assistant Professor (Stanford University, Stanford, CA)
2006-pres Associate Professor (UCSD, La Jolla, CA)

Steve Jiang
1998-2000 Post-Doctoral Fellow (Stanford University, Stanford, CA)
2000-2007 Assistant Professor (Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA)
2007-pres Univ of California (La Jolla, CA)

Grace Gwe-Ya Kim
1997-2004 Scientific Officer Korea Food & Drug Administration (KFDA) Seoul, Korea
2004-2006 Post-Doctoral Fellowship (Stanford University, Stanford, CA)
2007-2009 Medical Physicist (Austin Cancer Centers, Austin, TX)
2009-pres Clinical Physicist (UCSD, La Jolla, CA)

sloguy
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby sloguy » Mon Jan 11, 2010 7:04 pm

HowYouDoing:
Indirectly I worked with Todd and Gwe-Ya Kim while they were at Stanford (I was not a Medical Physicist at this time). So yes, they knew each other.
But I think that your point is weak, in almost every industry people are willing to hire someone good that they have worked with in the past. Nothing new (and nothing wrong) with that.
Furthermore, I still don't understand what your post about the job at Case Western (by Jason Sohn) has anything to do with Todd or Gwe-Ya. Why do the dates matter that much? Why does it matter that it used to be sponsored by some Foundation? Why does it matter who Jason Sohn went to school with?
I don't get it...

sloguy
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby sloguy » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:33 pm

ColumbiaMedPhys wrote:I agree with 'HowYouDoing'. The market for medical physicists is grossly over saturated and is going to be even worse for the graduating classes of 2010. Just by looking at the AAPM website you can see that there aren't nearly enough job listings to satisfy all of the graduates from the CAMPEP accredited programs nationwide not to mention all of the non-approved programs. If I had to guess I would say at least 50% are going to be paying their student loans by working two minimum wage jobs with a MS in medical physics. I just hope I'm lucky enough to not be one of them.

<snip>


How quickly your mind has changed! Just back in October 15th you said (in this same thread) "But the big upside is good job prospects and pay, and who couldn't use that!". And 3 months later your outlook has changed dramatically - presumably while you are in school. Tell us what happened?!?!

HowYouDoing
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby HowYouDoing » Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:10 am

Information is easier to locate when you have dates and facts.

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twistor
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby twistor » Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:27 am

HowYouDoing,

I'm not convinced that what you're saying is particular to medical physics. Everyone knows that post-docs are not permanent positions. The same can be said of physics post-docs. The existence of temporary jobs does not rule out the existence of permanent jobs.

Kites
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby Kites » Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:02 am

What's with all the bad hub bub in this thread. After watching this topic devolve into a fetid lump of finger pointing I think everyone needs to chill!

There's more out there to do with a Medical Physics degree than pure research. Research chances at a university are slim anywhere right now for any physics PhD if you don't have at least 1 post doc and even then it's competitive. Not to mention there's more to do than just do strictly research. There are hospital who are hiring people with experience in medical physics. I see the job postings on websites such as monster.com frequently. With chemistry, biology, and physics science experience there are also jobs working for the government as an analyst. The Department of Defense for instance loves scientists. If you do a little bit of digging it is not that difficult to find ads for these jobs. A Medical Physics PhD in the end has as many viable options as you want to give it. If the only option you're looking at is research for a big 10 university then yes, it is not going to look good. Nothing ever does when you're cutting out other possibilities. We're supposed to be scientists! Look at all of your choices! And most of all why don't we all just get along? :)

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twistor
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby twistor » Thu Jan 14, 2010 1:44 pm

DoD you say...

The prospect of turning CT into a destructive weapon intrigues me....

HowYouDoing
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby HowYouDoing » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:53 pm

twistor wrote:DoD you say...

The prospect of turning CT into a destructive weapon intrigues me....



Entertaining as it is, CT as a weapon is distracting from the thread topic.

It certainly is easy to focus on the postdoc aspect of a career. On the other hand you should also note that these people went on to work somewhere else after their postdoc. Then they migrated from that job to work at UCSD.

It is often the case that medical physicists are pushed out of jobs/departments repeatedly. The physician-partner groups will publicly say that it is hard to find good employees or the person took "early retirement". The reality is that the group is downsizing to cheaper employees. The former employee goes on to work somewhere new or the person does "locum tenens" work.

A huge difficulty with being a medical physicist is when you are not established in a community. Then you are more easily pushed out of the community.

ColumbiaMedPhys
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby ColumbiaMedPhys » Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:34 am

xxx
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yoyo
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby yoyo » Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:37 am

Yes. Medical Physics is kind of reptitive and mundane. But this is because it's about medicine. You've got to be careful with everything. It's not like finance. In finance, you get numbers wrong, you lose money; In Medicine, you get numbers wrong, people may die.All the work are crucial and necessary. You may also find their importance in several articles on recent New York Times.
As for those who claim Medical Physics is too simple, I think you've confused the essence of doing research and solving quantatitive problems. If you like to solve mathematics and physics problems, doing research may not fit you. It may be better that you choose to be a high school teacher or a physics olympic trainer. Research is about ideas and the innovative way to realize them, which is the same to medical physics as well as other fields in physics. And as far as I know, Pursuing a Ph.D. in medical physics is not that easy. You should know mathematics, physics, computer science, physiology or even some electronic engineering.
As for the job market problem, I think it's mainly because of the financial crisis,not because of saturation.
Just my opinion, debates are welcome.

ColumbiaMedPhys
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby ColumbiaMedPhys » Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:46 am

xxx
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yoyo
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby yoyo » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:16 am

To columbiamedphys:
I‘ve never tried to bash finance. It's a great subject. I just want to emphasize medical physics is important because it concerns directly with people's lives. Losing some money may leads to one's suicide, but he can also fight back to win it all back. But how can he if he is being over-radiated and will die tomorrow? Can he fight against it and let it start again?
Are you doing your master now? I think sometimes master degree is more focused on the clinical and application part of mp and does not concern too much with research.If you think mp is easy and want to pursue something more challenging, You may continue to do your PHD in columbia. It may satisfy you more.
As for the saturation, if mp is over-saturated, what words are you going to use to describe other fields of physics? It may be much competitive than before to locate a job, but there're still opportunities. And the regulation of 2012 and 2014 policy, in my view, will help a lot to maintian a steay demand-supply future of mp.
Anyway, calm down and think it over. I know some students in the mp class in columbia now. He is quite optimistic. If you still think it is of no future, go to any field you like.

ColumbiaMedPhys
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby ColumbiaMedPhys » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:15 am

xxx
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Grendel
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby Grendel » Wed Mar 17, 2010 7:34 am

Hi everyone, new guy here. I'm currently close to graduation from a CAMPEP-accredited program. I happened upon this thread and decided to register so I could give my thoughts.

Well, to start off, I disagree that the material in medical physics is trivial to learn and understand, as some here seem to be suggesting. I mean no sarcasm at all when I say that anyone who feels this way must be a hell of a lot smarter than the vast majority of the people who've come through the program I'm attending -- a high percentage of whom enrolled after having already completed a master's or Ph.D. in fields ranging from astrophysics to electronics engineering. Few if any of these people thought that the material in, say, the Attix text (Introduction to Radiological Physics and Radiation Dosimetry) wasn't challenging. And by the way, I'd recommend that anyone who's curious about this field go to Amazon.com, search for that book, and flip through it online -- a preview is available.

MP is quite different from the kind of physics to which many people are exposed (no pun intended) in their undergrad program or in other areas of graduate study. Because the interactions of radiation and matter can be so complex, in MP it's often necessary to do calculations with the aid of tabulated empirical data. The challenge lies in knowing how to properly apply that data.

Now it IS true that the mathematical tools required in MP aren't very sophisticated, at least when learning the core material of this field (as opposed to doing certain kinds of research). Calculus and ODEs are generally the extent of what's needed to solve problems and understand derivations. But as we all know, physics is more than just math -- a solid understanding of the concepts to which one is applying that math is needed in order to effectively solve problems. Of course, the difficulty of the material with which you'll be presented depends a great deal on your grad program and its professors. I can see how a lot of the material in my program could have been given a much more superficial treatment than what my professors gave me.

I definitely agree that MP is more memorization-intensive than other areas of physics. This is due in part to the interdisciplinary nature of the field -- it requires you to learn stuff like anatomy and radiobiology -- and also due to the aforementioned necessity of using lots of empirical data. While I doubt most people will be required to memorize tables of data, it is certainly helpful to commit to memory the general trends in the data, as well as WHY those trends are what they are.

All in all, I'm happy with the intellectual stimulation this field has provided me. No, it's not full of fancy math, but it really does have its own conceptual challenges. In many ways MP is like engineering. In a sense you can make it as challenging as you want to by deciding for yourself just how deep of an understanding you want to pursue, but ultimately your goal (at least as a clinical physicist) is to apply the results others have found.

Now for the bad news. It does appear that getting a first job in this field has gotten very tough. Demand for experienced physicists seems to be quite high, and there is said to be a shortage of them; but that doesn't apply to new or recent graduates at all. In particular, competition for residencies is FIERCE. We're talking about well over one hundred applications for a single slot at a typical program. Because many people who apply to those residencies are equally well-qualified, the choice of who gets the position often comes down to nothing more than how much your interviewers like you. It isn't always the person with the highest GPA who gets the residency. This is not merely my opinion, but what I was told up front by some residency directors. Also, if a particular department has both a graduate program and a residency program, it will frequently not even seriously consider anyone for its residency program apart from its own graduates.

I'm still waiting to find out if I'm going to get a residency this year. I've gotten a couple of interviews and several rejections, and a few other applications are still pending. If I don't get a residency, then a junior physicist position is the next thing I'll look for, but I'm well aware that it could be a long search.

As far as what it's like to be a clinical physicist, obviously I can't comment from experience. But my impression is that it's similar to the job of any scientist or engineer who works in industry as opposed to an academic research environment. A lot of duties will be very routine, but the occasional unusual problem will arise that can keep the job interesting enough. If the term "glorified technician" applies to medical physicists, then it also applies to engineers in industry and just about anyone else in any technical field who isn't doing research all the time. Most non-research jobs involve routine duties. Take primary care medicine, for example. I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of visits to a primary care physician's office are for very mundane reasons: strep throat, the flu, sprained ankles, etc. But every now and then something interesting comes along, and that's when one needs to fall back on more in-depth understanding of one's field. Perhaps the best thing about working in any area of medicine, MP included, is that you get the satisfaction of knowing that you're having a positive and immediate impact on people's lives. Add to that the excellent pay, and you have a good career choice -- unless you're dead-set on doing cutting-edge research in academia or something along those lines. It's really only that first-job bottleneck that's preventing me from recommending this field more enthusiastically right now.

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twistor
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby twistor » Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:16 am

Grendel wrote:In many ways MP is like engineering.


I've been saying this all along.

Grendel wrote:If the term "glorified technician" applies to medical physicists, then it also applies to engineers in industry and just about anyone else in any technical field who isn't doing research all the time.


It does.

Grendel wrote:Few if any of these people thought that the material in, say, the Attix text (Introduction to Radiological Physics and Radiation Dosimetry) wasn't challenging. And by the way, I'd recommend that anyone who's curious about this field go to Amazon.com, search for that book, and flip through it online -- a preview is available.


It's unfortunate that Attix is a standard text in this field. Attix tries to cover subjects in detail but fails because the necessary background is missing. Because of this reading a textbook like Attix leaves one with more questions than answers. Of course, as it has been said before, it really doesn't matter whether or not you understand the material as long as you can do the calculations and get the right answers. Forget about where the Klein-Nishina cross-section is coming from. Your friends in physics will derive and understand it, you just plug-and-chug.

Werg
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby Werg » Sun Apr 04, 2010 4:04 am

Just adding another opinion on medical physics grad school, etc.

I am (hopefully) about a year away from getting my PhD. My path is slightly strange, but can be summed up as Physics MS --> CAMPEP medical physics MS --> Physics PhD (all at the same university). My PhD is focusing on radiation therapy and is primarily computational physics with a small experimental component. Going back to the physics dept. was the easiest option for me, since I had already fulfilled all of the physics PhD requisites, except the research.

I agree with the opinions that (most of) the material in medical physics classes does not compare in difficulty or depth to that of traditional physics grad school. When I was in the physics program I was probably in the middle 1/3 as far as math ability, but when I switched to MP it was like I was suddenly a math god because I could bust out volume integrals, etc. that became routine in physics grad school. Like twistor mentioned, some of the biggest difficulties we faced were related to signal and image processing material. I was lucky in that I had seen much of it before. It seems like you have to learn Fourier transforms about 5 times before you really feel comfortable with them. I also agree with the opinion that these difficulties/frustrations largely stem from the fact that MP is an interdisciplinary field. Just look at the text books like Khan, Hendee, or Bushberg. Pretty much everyone (physicists, medical residents, rad techs, dosimetrists) hates them because they are targeted at too broad of an audience.

Now, that doesn't mean your experience has to be bad. There is definitely some interesting stuff going on in medical physics. A lot of the people doing research come from very strong backgrounds. A lot of them are people you'd consider to be bad asses, whether they were found in medical physics or particle theory or whatever. As a random example, I enjoy reading Thomas Bortfeld's papers, even though they have nothing to do with my research. Of course you can set yourself up to be a clinical drone, but you can also try to engage in stimulating research and/or try to push the field clinically. All of the academic medical physics programs have (at least a few) people who have made an impact on the field. You should learn what you can from them.

If you're doing MP right now and feel like it's just wrong for you, one option is to join industry or try to build your own startup with the knowledge you have.

Good luck.....

PS. If you think MP grad school is rote/boring because it is not concept based, you will absolutely hate med school, just in case anyone is considering that route.

js1985
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby js1985 » Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:35 pm

Hi, I have a question about the Medical Physicist career.

I have a bachelors of science in Biology.

I was wondering that if I could be accepted to the CAMPEP accredited program if I go back to school to take required courses before I apply.

Also, Im looking for the M.S. program and most school listed that 3rd year is for the thesis.

If it is required what exactly is it about?

I was wondering if that 3rd year of thesis is required to obtain the masters degree.

My next question is, to get a job in the hospital as clinical medical physicist (like radiation therapy), does one require to go through the CAMPEP accredited residency program? Because I read through many forums it is very hard to get into the residency program since there are only few accredited schools and also few spots they offer. Also when I checked the residency program, almost 95% seems they are Ph. D students not masters.

My last question is job outlook. I hear that there are very few openings out there and it is very tough to get the job.


I wish person who is already a clinical medical physicist currenty working can answer my questions.


Thank you.

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twistor
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby twistor » Wed Jul 21, 2010 7:43 pm

First let me say that I am not a clinical medical physicist, though I am a student.

It's going to be very hard for you to get into a medical physics program with a pure biology background (I'm assuming you've taken no physics courses). You are going to be required to take some physics courses related to the discipline as a graduate student and whatever school you apply to is going to want to be sure you are up to the task. You may also have to take some difficult math courses that a biology background wouldn't prepare you for.

You don't need to graduate from a CAMPEP accredited school or residency to get a job as a medical physicist. You do, however, need it to be competitive.

There is some debate over the current state of the job market. I have heard claims from both factions saying on one hand that the job market is over-saturated and on the other hand that there are not enough medical physicists being produced. Given the current state of the economy I find it very hard to believe that there are a large number of vacancies for medical physics although there are still quite a few listings on job boards.

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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby js1985 » Sat Jul 24, 2010 11:09 am

Thanks for the reply.

With my degree in Biology, I do lack many prerequisites.

I only took Calculus I, and non-calculus based physics I and II.

Im thinking about taking Calculus II, Calculus-based Physics I and II and possibly some basic engineering course this fall.

And also study for the GRE and apply end of this year for conditional acceptance.

And on spring semester taking courses like modern physics, maybe cal III, linear algebra, and some other courses.

Do you recommend any other essential courses to be accepted to the program?

Or do you think Im considering some non-essential courses ?

Do you think I have a chance?

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twistor
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby twistor » Sat Jul 24, 2010 11:36 am

Medical physics programs have a high distorted view of what their candidates need to succeed in their programs. They prefer students who have completed physics degrees even though their knowledge of the subjects they learn as an undergraduate will almost certainly not be applied in graduate school. I personally think engineering classes would be more helpful for medical physics, but present program coordinators do not see it that way.

Taking all of the courses you listed is an excellent idea and will make you a stronger, more competitive candidate. I would also recommend taking a couple of introductory electrical engineering (EE) courses. The EE courses you should take should deal with signal processing and the Fourier transform as these are used commonly in medical physics. If you don't already know computer programming you should also try to take some introductory computer science courses. In particular, MATLab and IDL are used quite a bit in medical physics, mostly for image processing. Your school probably doesn't offer any courses on MATLab but you'll probably be exposed to it in EE courses, and taking any other programming language course will make learning it even easier.

Of the courses you listed modern physics is probably the most important. You'll cover things like x-ray spectra and bremsstrahlung production, but not in any detail. These concepts are extremely important in medical physics.

With all of that being said I think your biology background combined with the right set of physics, math, and/or engineering courses can actually make you a stronger candidate. Many of us go into this field with only a rudimentary understanding of biological processes. You'll be ahead of the curve when it comes to taking courses like radiation biology which tend to assume a much deeper biology background than most graduate students in this field actually possess.

Finally, you should seriously reconsider your reasons for wanting a degree in medical physics. If you're in it for the money, like so many of us are, consider something else. You will not be happy. It is a very boring and dry field. The research that's being done tends to re-hash earlier research with maybe one or two new things added. The physicists don't care much about the biology -- you'll often hear medical physicists reduce the human body to something akin to a bag of water with "inhomgeneities" (i.e. bones and air spaces). Now, I'm no biologist but even I find this kind of extreme reductionist approach disturbing. Given my experience with medical physics programs I would never recommend this kind of program to anyone. Instead I would recommend biomedical engineering. However, if you have your mind set on medical physics, good luck.

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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby mpgal » Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:34 pm

Grendel wrote:I'm still waiting to find out if I'm going to get a residency this year. I've gotten a couple of interviews and several rejections, and a few other applications are still pending. If I don't get a residency, then a junior physicist position is the next thing I'll look for, but I'm well aware that it could be a long search.


How did it go? I am graduating in May 2011 from my medical physics masters program and getting my applications set for residencies right now. I am applying to 12-15 places so far. Any advice would be a great help!!

Fizx
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby Fizx » Wed May 25, 2011 7:16 pm

Hi all,

A little confused here.
Duke says that MP jobs are plentiful (and that median salary for a certified MS is a whopping 162K):
http://medicalphysics.duke.edu/careers/demand.html
Job & residency shortages weren't in the brochure.
Are they being misleading?

Also, are new jobs involving imaging algorithm research a long shot in peoples opinions or not?
I got my BS in physics 18 years ago. Working in the 3D graphics industry now, but "it's" going overseas so I'm thinking about medical physics imaging.


Any comments are much appreciated. -Mike

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twistor
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby twistor » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:11 am

First, sorry to hear about jobs in your field going overseas. This country gets more fucked every day. When all the jobs are overseas and there's no one left in the developed world who can afford their products and we're all slaves working at Wal-mart maybe then they'll realize their error. Then again I wouldn't count on it.

A lesson I've learned hard is that you should never, ever trust the brochure.

Everything that follows is strictly my opinion. It's based on my impressions of where the industry is going and anecdotal stories I hear from my peers and colleagues.

It's true that medical physicists can earn six figures. However, that's quoted for a clinical medical physicist. Medical physicists working in imaging research are rarely clinical and if they are it's only a small portion of their job. Expect that a medical physicist working in imaging should receive pay comparable to what researchers in other related fields earn in academic positions. Salaries for university professors are more like 80k or 90k, but that's a far cry from 160k.

Another thing you have to consider going into imaging research is that there is a lot of overlap with other fields. Biomedical engineers, computer scientists, and electrical engineers also do imaging related research. Unless you are dealing directly with instrumentation only a cursory knowledge of the physical processes that were used to generate the images is necessary. Pay is commensurate with not only knowledge but also responsibility and since imaging scientists do not share the patient burdens that their clinical counterparts do they do not receive as a high of a salary. The clinical route usually not only requires a MS or Ph.d. (MS is becoming more and more rare) but also a residency. In addition to that many employers will want to obtain certification from the ABR, which will soon require you to have completed a certified CAMPEP residency program. If I recall correctly the ABR requires you to pass 3 tests, one of which is oral, in order to obtain certification. My opinion is (and I've stated this before in my posts) that the ABR's CAMPEP 2012/2014 initiatives are designed solely to prevent the encroachment of other fields into clinical medical physics in order to keep the applicant pool small (there are relatively few schools offering medical physics degrees) and salaries high.

As for jobs being plentiful it's hard to say. I do see job postings for medical physics all the time, mostly in clinical positions. No one I know of who graduated from imaging related work has landed a full-time faculty or clinical imaging related position. Some have moved on to clinical physics, some have post docs in imaging, some work as research assistants in other labs, and some have left the field entirely.

elliott34
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby elliott34 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:23 am

So how competitive are these residencies for clinical work? Since that's where the real money is...

JF
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby JF » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:37 pm

Hi guys,

I stumbled upon this thread months ago and have read every response. It's really helped me decide to apply in the fall for medical physics programs. I've asked countless people about the job outlook, and like many of you, I can't seem to get a straight answer. I've heard everything from "extremely saturated" to "quite promising." I hate it. I'm not 100% confident yet that I will apply to programs simply because I am unsure about the employment opportunities.

But I am interested in seeing where the people who posted months/years ago are now. To anyone who has graduated, what is it like post-graduate? How plentiful are the job opportunities?

obelix78
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby obelix78 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:35 am

JF wrote:To anyone who has graduated, what is it like post-graduate? How plentiful are the job opportunities?

in every sphere of life you have to compete. here's no exception. there're opportunities but everything really depends on you


buy caviar
Last edited by obelix78 on Mon Nov 10, 2014 9:44 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby HappyQuark » Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:14 pm

obelix78 wrote:
JF wrote:To anyone who has graduated, what is it like post-graduate? How plentiful are the job opportunities?

in every sphere of life you have to compete. here's no exception. there're opportunities but everything really depends on you


This has got to be, bar none, the most useless post that has ever graced the pages of this forum. JF wasn't asking if being successful required some generic description of work ethic and skill but, specifically, how competitive the opportunities in medical physics are.

Your response was roughly equivalent to a person asking "how difficult are the problems on the upcoming physics test" to which you respond "When answering questions on a test, it is beneficial to provide appropriate and relevant responses to the given problem".

bfollinprm
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby bfollinprm » Thu Sep 08, 2011 1:10 am

Which, coincidentally, is the official ETS response to any questions regarding their tests.

I Killed Jesus
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby I Killed Jesus » Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:37 am

Hey peeps.

So, I'm a quasi-junior undergraduate right now. Essentially, I was planning on transferring to NYU for physics, but over the summer I decided not to because of the crazy loans I'd be taking out, and as of right now I'm taking an Anatomy and Physiology class and Organic Chem class at a community college. Assuming I get into it, I'm planning on going to Stony Brook University to finish my undergrad, and am, right now, thinking about going into medical physics afterward. Anyway, I'm a stupid, ascurred young person and have a lot of questions.

My biggest fear is concerning the future job market. I'm guessing it'll take about 7 years from now until I graduate with possibly a PhD and do a residency, so obviously the state of the current job market doesn't mean much. Like everyone before me has said, I've heard extremely contradicting stories. My uncle, for example, is really the one who started talking to me about medical physics. He's a radiologist and knows a few at the hospital he works at and pretty much told me as a medical physicist I'll have a job and have money. But then I'm hearing horror stories about newly graduated medphysicists who can't find a job anywhere. I don't care really so much about the money, just the availability of jobs. I think I would prefer working as a clinical MP and honestly that sounds easier to get a job in than research, but does anyone have any opinions about how it's gonna look in like 7 years? I've heard a lot about the baby boomers retiring soon and everything but yea, just want to hear people's opinions.

Another fear I have is getting into the graduate programs themselves. Really, the biggest reasons I chose Stony Brook as the school that I want to go to next semester is that it's a public school and that it has its own medical physics program (CAMPEMP accredited). I was wondering if people could post their "stats", I guess, from when they applied to the grad schools (undergrad GPA, GRE scores, etc.). Also, not that it's the only one I want to go to (honestly I wouldn't mind going to any CAMPEMP accredited school), but would be going to Stony Brook for undergrad give me a better chance to get into its own grad program over someone who didn't?

Anyway, thanks to anyone that responds. You have no idea how stressed I am about all this ***. When I first got out of high school, my dream was to do research in astrophysics. hahahaha I'm such an idiot. I'm just afraid that I'll get a ridiculous amount of schooling but will end up working at McDonald's or some ***. Dassa my life.

HowYouDoing
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby HowYouDoing » Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:40 am

JF wrote:Hi guys,

I stumbled upon this thread months ago and have read every response. It's really helped me decide to apply in the fall for medical physics programs. I've asked countless people about the job outlook, and like many of you, I can't seem to get a straight answer. I've heard everything from "extremely saturated" to "quite promising." I hate it. I'm not 100% confident yet that I will apply to programs simply because I am unsure about the employment opportunities.

But I am interested in seeing where the people who posted months/years ago are now. To anyone who has graduated, what is it like post-graduate? How plentiful are the job opportunities?


The medical physics market is bad and getting worse. Right now the AAPM mainly advertises resident positions and not permanent positions. The ABR relaxed their condition that you have to be employed in medical physics to take some parts of the exam.

A medical physicist I know who left academia for the clinic stated that only 25% of the jobs advertised on the AAPM website were genuine open positions.

The good news is Australia is attempting to get US citizens to leave the country and work there.

I Killed Jesus
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby I Killed Jesus » Wed Oct 26, 2011 7:33 pm

Anyone? =(

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:29 am

I Killed Jesus wrote:Anyone? =(


Well, I was reluctant to answer at first because you killed my father. ;P

But with that being said...

I just wanted to make a comment about your "biggest fear". I don't know much about Medical Physics myself, but I don't see why you're worried about not having a job in medical physics. In fact, in general most people getting a Physics PhD shouldn't be worried about finding a job. Medical jobs will always expand (people don't want to die) so I wouldn't worry about the outlook of jobs at all in that field. Even if for some reason you can't find a job in Medical, you'll have plenty of options elsewhere. Compare a Medical Physics PhD to any other degree and realize that you'll have it better than 99% of the population. I think your fear isn't "finding a job" it's more "I won't have a job that makes a lot of money". If this is the case, maybe you should apply for medical school instead! :)

-Riley

pqortic
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby pqortic » Fri Oct 28, 2011 12:33 pm

Mcfly11 wrote:I haven't been able to find any admission statistics, other than for Duke which seems insanely competitive. Can anyone tell me which programs, if any, are generally easier to get into? I'm just curious whether I have a good shot at admission, or if I should stay north of the border.

Thanks!


there is no easy program. everywhere that you apply, there are some other applicants that you will compete with. getting admitted to a phd program in Med Physics is not very different from Physics. stronger application gets you into a better program. the only way that you can find out which program fits you the best is by looking at the profile threads (there are some Med physics profiles too) and then applying to a couple of schools (few higher than your level, few about your level and few safeties).

Minovsky
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby Minovsky » Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:55 pm

pqortic wrote:
Mcfly11 wrote:I haven't been able to find any admission statistics, other than for Duke which seems insanely competitive. Can anyone tell me which programs, if any, are generally easier to get into? I'm just curious whether I have a good shot at admission, or if I should stay north of the border.

Thanks!


there is no easy program. everywhere that you apply, there are some other applicants that you will compete with. getting admitted to a phd program in Med Physics is not very different from Physics. stronger application gets you into a better program. the only way that you can find out which program fits you the best is by looking at the profile threads (there are some Med physics profiles too) and then applying to a couple of schools (few higher than your level, few about your level and few safeties).


Mcfly11 isn't asking what programs are easy to get into, he's asking what programs are easier (than Duke) to get into. Essentially he's asking what schools he should choose for his "safety" schools. Your advice is contradictory: you tell them to apply to safety schools, but you also state that schools which are easy to get into don't exist, i.e. no program can be considered a safety (at least by my understanding that a "safety" is somewhere which is relatively easy to get into).

Here is a list of all the CAMPEP accredited Medical Physics graduate programs: http://www.campep.org/campeplstgrad.asp
Some of these are probably easier to get into than Duke, but I have no idea of the competitiveness of each program.

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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby pqortic » Fri Oct 28, 2011 4:06 pm

Minovsky wrote:
pqortic wrote:
Mcfly11 wrote:I haven't been able to find any admission statistics, other than for Duke which seems insanely competitive. Can anyone tell me which programs, if any, are generally easier to get into? I'm just curious whether I have a good shot at admission, or if I should stay north of the border.

Thanks!


there is no easy program. everywhere that you apply, there are some other applicants that you will compete with. getting admitted to a phd program in Med Physics is not very different from Physics. stronger application gets you into a better program. the only way that you can find out which program fits you the best is by looking at the profile threads (there are some Med physics profiles too) and then applying to a couple of schools (few higher than your level, few about your level and few safeties).


Mcfly11 isn't asking what programs are easy to get into, he's asking what programs are easier (than Duke) to get into. Essentially he's asking what schools he should choose for his "safety" schools. Your advice is contradictory: you tell them to apply to safety schools, but you also state that schools which are easy to get into don't exist, i.e. no program can be considered a safety (at least by my understanding that a "safety" is somewhere which is relatively easy to get into).

Here is a list of all the CAMPEP accredited Medical Physics graduate programs: http://www.campep.org/campeplstgrad.asp
Some of these are probably easier to get into than Duke, but I have no idea of the competitiveness of each program.


I don't think you are right. he got his answer and deleted his post!!

but generally, unless you are an extraordinary applicant you cannot guarantee that you will get into any of the places that you apply. because you don't know how competitive other applicants are. sometimes people get rejected from their safety schools but get accepted to top 10. as no one would argue that he might have chances to get in Duke. I explained him the process that one would usually follow. but to answer Mcfly11's question in other way, there is a pretty good correlation between the overall reputation (ranking) of the schools and level of their individual programs.

Minovsky
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby Minovsky » Fri Oct 28, 2011 4:55 pm

pqortic wrote:...generally, unless you are an extraordinary applicant you cannot guarantee that you will get into any of the places that you apply. because you don't know how competitive other applicants are. sometimes people get rejected from their safety schools but get accepted to top 10. as no one would argue that he might have chances to get in Duke. I explained him the process that one would usually follow. but to answer Mcfly11's question in other way, there is a pretty good correlation between the overall reputation (ranking) of the schools and level of their individual programs.

I agree with you on this. My problem with your post/s is that you throw around this term "safety school," but you make it clear that you cannot assume your chances at any school are "safe". What qualifies a school as a "safety" school then? Are you just saying lower-ranked are "safety schools"?

pqortic
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby pqortic » Sat Oct 29, 2011 6:05 pm

Minovsky wrote:
pqortic wrote:...generally, unless you are an extraordinary applicant you cannot guarantee that you will get into any of the places that you apply. because you don't know how competitive other applicants are. sometimes people get rejected from their safety schools but get accepted to top 10. as no one would argue that he might have chances to get in Duke. I explained him the process that one would usually follow. but to answer Mcfly11's question in other way, there is a pretty good correlation between the overall reputation (ranking) of the schools and level of their individual programs.

I agree with you on this. My problem with your post/s is that you throw around this term "safety school," but you make it clear that you cannot assume your chances at any school are "safe". What qualifies a school as a "safety" school then? Are you just saying lower-ranked are "safety schools"?


By safety schools I mean places where you have a very good chance of admission. I remember when I got my admissions I decided to withdraw my application from a school that I knew I was not going to go there. I emailed the graduate chair asking the status of my application and he replied: "you are in our waitlist, do you still want us to consider your application?". they also knew that they are a safety option for some applicants.

promedphy
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby promedphy » Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:28 pm

Hello all,

Two things I was hoping to get help with. First, am I a competitive applicant for MS program in MP? Physics major /w concentration in BIophysics. 3.6 GPA. About 770 on quantitative section ( 162 with new scale). One year research in Pathology lab at hospital university and one year in Microscopy Lab in a Physics department.

Secondly, what opportunities does a postbac in Physics have in Radiation Oncology/Radiology? I want to work for a year or two before applying to grad school, but can't find something that will build my resume.

Thanks

srw
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby srw » Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:39 pm

Just to chime in...
Background: I am a clinical Medical Physicist. I graduated from an ABET accredited Nuclear Engineering program with a BS. I graduated from a CAMPEP accredited Medical Physics Program. I have completed Parts 1 and 2 of the ABR certification process and am planning to finish Part 3 in two months if all goes according to plan. I work in Therapy Physics.

In my opinion, the prospective student should decide on a research oriented path or a clinically oriented path. This will decide which program is for you. Ask students currently enrolled in the program you are interested in: Are you receiving clinical training? Are you receiving Research mentoring? What do you feel your program prepares you to do once you graduate?

Also, Medical Physics is by nature an application of physics, not in theoretical the realm. Those who want to ponder the nature of the universe for pay will not be happy. Those who want to work in a Para-medical profession, may find some measure of happiness.

The job market is less than anticipated. You will hear this in every field during an economic downturn. No Medical Physics is not immune. The aging population of workers that might have retired in a good economic time are waiting. The expected shortage of physicists has not occurred.

To the poster who claims that Medical Physicists do not know how to derive the Klein-Nishina - no one from my program escaped without being required to demonstrate that competency (both undergrad and graduate.) Please do not imply that we don't understand what we are doing. Do I derive the crossections everyday at work - no.

Is there way more memorization than derivation in the day to day work. OF COURSE. We provide guidance and answers to physicians and less trained employees, who have instant answer needs. That does not excuse or allow for lack of understanding of first principles.

The best coursework for clinical physics work would be a nuclear engineering undergrad, with a Physics minor including modern physics and E&M, and anatomy and physiology. I hope you find this helpful.

mikewilso
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby mikewilso » Sat Mar 24, 2012 2:49 pm

Medical physicists who are working in imaging research are rarely clinical & if they are then it's only a small portion of their job. Expect that a medical physicist working in imaging must receive pay comparable to what researchers in other related fields earn in academic positions.

lsaldana
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby lsaldana » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:04 am

Come on guys, the field can't be that bad if gems like this are being produced:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYdRchL6 ... re=related

B2316
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby B2316 » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:25 pm

Just for another perspective...

I'm a current clinical MP.

I think the folks complaining about lack of theoretical challenge went to or are currently attending the wrong and/or suboptimal grad programs. This text is essentially a transcript of my class notes, derivations on a real black board, etc.

http://www.amazon.com/Radiation-Physicists-Biological-Biomedical-Engineering/dp/3642008747/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303419246&sr=8-1#_

The text titled "Radiological Imaging" by H. H. Barrett and W. Swindell were the texts I used for diagnostic radiology physics.

Many folks with existing graduate degrees in particle physics, etc. could not cut the mustard at the CAMPEP accredited program that I attended. It's different.

Salaries can easily be way over $200k/year, BTW.

Bozostein
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Re: Anyone in a Medical Physics program have an opinion on it?

Postby Bozostein » Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:42 am

I met with a medical physicist before applying to grad school to consider this track. The guys were basically working around an MRI. But my sense was that the physics aspect wasn't really what I was looking for. Personally, if I wanted to make money I would have gone to law school/ dental school. Though I understand lawyers are having a difficult time finding jobs these days. I'm not totally sure about dentists. Anyway I'm happy to give up some $$ to do the real physics.




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