Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

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Kites
Posts: 37
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:17 pm

Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby Kites » Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:58 am

Hello everyone,

I was hoping everyone here could help me with a very difficult choice I face right now. I've been accepted to several medical physics PhD programs: Wisc., UFL, and an expected acceptance from UCLA. I've also been accepted to U. Kentucky's MS program.

Here's the problem. I need to choose between U. Wisc. and Kentucky. I am very interested in becoming a clinical medical physicist.

The University of Kentucky offers a plethora of hands-on clinical experience. Their practicum ranges from plans, QA, consults with physicians and much more. Pretty much they show you the clinic from top to bottom. The bad part is that they're only an MS.

Wisconsin-Madison is Wisconsin-Madison and a long PhD program. I've been told in recent years Wisconsin does not really teach clinical training, but focuses more and more heavily on research. There are several classes listed on their website, such as, "Radiation Medicine Physics Clerkship" where, and I quote, "students perform the functions of a clinical medical physicist". Is it any good though? Does it compare in any way to what Kentucky is offering? There are also several classes called Rad-Labs which are intended to supplement clinical training by introducing equipment.

I have an acceptance to both schools, but DAYS to decide on one or the other. I cannot come to a conclusion of what to do. If you can spare a thought I would greatly appreciate it. If you attend U. Wisc.-Madison's Med. Physics program, please, post and share some information.


Thanks everyone.

bfollinprm
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Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby bfollinprm » Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:38 am

If you want to be a clinical medical physicist, why do you need a PhD?

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grae313
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Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby grae313 » Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:54 pm

You should try to find out where recent graduates from each program have gone.

Kites
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Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby Kites » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:07 pm

Kentucky graduates have always ended up finding jobs easily. They're well known for producing quality clinical physicists and so provide a strong reputation when seeking a job.

Wisc. graduates have ended up everywhere. They too get a lot of jobs in the clinic, but also in research. The caveat is that the Wisc. graduates pursuing the clinic must take a residency after obtaining their Ph.D. which is 2-3 more years of school (on top of the Ph.D. 5-6) at half pay.

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby WhoaNonstop » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:09 pm

Kites wrote:Kentucky graduates have always ended up finding jobs easily. They're well known for producing quality clinical physicists and so provide a strong reputation when seeking a job.

Wisc. graduates have ended up everywhere. They too get a lot of jobs in the clinic, but also in research. The caveat is that the Wisc. graduates pursuing the clinic must take a residency after obtaining their Ph.D. which is 2-3 more years of school (on top of the Ph.D. 5-6) at half pay.


And this is a hard decision how?

-Riley

Kites
Posts: 37
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:17 pm

Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby Kites » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:11 pm

WhoaNonstop wrote:
Kites wrote:Kentucky graduates have always ended up finding jobs easily. They're well known for producing quality clinical physicists and so provide a strong reputation when seeking a job.

Wisc. graduates have ended up everywhere. They too get a lot of jobs in the clinic, but also in research. The caveat is that the Wisc. graduates pursuing the clinic must take a residency after obtaining their Ph.D. which is 2-3 more years of school (on top of the Ph.D. 5-6) at half pay.


And this is a hard decision how?

-Riley


I had it in my head to go to Wisc. for years now. What I saw in Kentucky is what I thought Wisc. offered. Now I am all sorts of confused.

bfollinprm
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Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby bfollinprm » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:12 pm

WhoaNonstop wrote:
Kites wrote:Kentucky graduates have always ended up finding jobs easily. They're well known for producing quality clinical physicists and so provide a strong reputation when seeking a job.

Wisc. graduates have ended up everywhere. They too get a lot of jobs in the clinic, but also in research. The caveat is that the Wisc. graduates pursuing the clinic must take a residency after obtaining their Ph.D. which is 2-3 more years of school (on top of the Ph.D. 5-6) at half pay.


And this is a hard decision how?

-Riley

Just to repeat what I said..you need a phd why?

vttd
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Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby vttd » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:17 pm

Sounds like you know which one is a better fit for you and you're just coming to terms with your preconceived notions of both programs. Stop fighting it, you know which one is the best for you.

Kites
Posts: 37
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:17 pm

Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby Kites » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:18 pm

bfollinprm wrote:
WhoaNonstop wrote:
Kites wrote:Kentucky graduates have always ended up finding jobs easily. They're well known for producing quality clinical physicists and so provide a strong reputation when seeking a job.

Wisc. graduates have ended up everywhere. They too get a lot of jobs in the clinic, but also in research. The caveat is that the Wisc. graduates pursuing the clinic must take a residency after obtaining their Ph.D. which is 2-3 more years of school (on top of the Ph.D. 5-6) at half pay.


And this is a hard decision how?

-Riley

Just to repeat what I said..you need a phd why?



To be cool and sarcastic.

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HappyQuark
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Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby HappyQuark » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:36 pm

Kites wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:Just to repeat what I said..you need a phd why?



To be cool and sarcastic.


You don't need a PhD for that. Trust me, I've been cool and sarcastic for years and I've done it all without a graduate degree.

Kites
Posts: 37
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:17 pm

Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby Kites » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:50 pm

HappyQuark wrote:
Kites wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:Just to repeat what I said..you need a phd why?



To be cool and sarcastic.


You don't need a PhD for that. Trust me, I've been cool and sarcastic for years and I've done it all without a graduate degree.


You've also been my hero now.

astroprof
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:47 pm

Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby astroprof » Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:12 pm

Kites - why do you only have DAYS to reply? The Council of
Graduate Schools has instituted a uniform reply date of April 15
for offers of graduate student financial assistance (scholarships,
fellowships, assistanships (RA; TA)). Both Kentucky and Wisconsin
are members of the Council, so you should not be required to make
a decision for several more weeks.

admissionprof
Posts: 364
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 7:50 pm

Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby admissionprof » Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:22 pm

astroprof wrote:Kites - why do you only have DAYS to reply? The Council of
Graduate Schools has instituted a uniform reply date of April 15
for offers of graduate student financial assistance (scholarships,
fellowships, assistanships (RA; TA)). Both Kentucky and Wisconsin
are members of the Council, so you should not be required to make
a decision for several more weeks.


Kites---I completely agree. Every year, it seems that some school gives people an earlier deadline (usually a new admissions person who simply doesn't know). Every time it happens, I quietly inform the Dean (or a friend) at that institution, and usually within a day a correction goes out to the applicants. Jumping the April 15th deadline must never, never be tolerated. If they insist, just accept them both and withdraw from one (or both) on April 15th. They can't do anything...

Kites
Posts: 37
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:17 pm

Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby Kites » Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:27 am

astroprof wrote:Kites - why do you only have DAYS to reply? The Council of
Graduate Schools has instituted a uniform reply date of April 15
for offers of graduate student financial assistance (scholarships,
fellowships, assistanships (RA; TA)). Both Kentucky and Wisconsin
are members of the Council, so you should not be required to make
a decision for several more weeks.


This is what I thought as well, but, I think the caveat is that U. Kentucky does not offer any funding because it is a Master's program. Does this mean they do not have to obey the April 15th deadline?

astroprof
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:47 pm

Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby astroprof » Fri Feb 25, 2011 3:28 am

While the CGS Resolution is specifically in regard to offers
of financial assistance, the spirit of the resolution certainly
applies to offers of graduate admission in general (both MS
and PhD). Note also that the April 15 deadline is the earliest
students must decide; departments may extend that deadline at
their discretion.

However, all of the above applies to Graduate Programs, not Medical
Schools. If the programs you are considering are part of the Medical
School, they are likely not covered by the CGS Resolution even though
they are MS and PhD programs. In that case, you can still ask each
program if you can have an extension on the decision date, so that
you will be able to consider all of your options.

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twistor
Posts: 1531
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:47 pm

Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby twistor » Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:51 pm

Kites wrote:Hello everyone,

I was hoping everyone here could help me with a very difficult choice I face right now. I've been accepted to several medical physics PhD programs: Wisc., UFL, and an expected acceptance from UCLA. I've also been accepted to U. Kentucky's MS program.

Here's the problem. I need to choose between U. Wisc. and Kentucky. I am very interested in becoming a clinical medical physicist.

The University of Kentucky offers a plethora of hands-on clinical experience. Their practicum ranges from plans, QA, consults with physicians and much more. Pretty much they show you the clinic from top to bottom. The bad part is that they're only an MS.

Wisconsin-Madison is Wisconsin-Madison and a long PhD program. I've been told in recent years Wisconsin does not really teach clinical training, but focuses more and more heavily on research. There are several classes listed on their website, such as, "Radiation Medicine Physics Clerkship" where, and I quote, "students perform the functions of a clinical medical physicist". Is it any good though? Does it compare in any way to what Kentucky is offering? There are also several classes called Rad-Labs which are intended to supplement clinical training by introducing equipment.

I have an acceptance to both schools, but DAYS to decide on one or the other. I cannot come to a conclusion of what to do. If you can spare a thought I would greatly appreciate it. If you attend U. Wisc.-Madison's Med. Physics program, please, post and share some information.


Thanks everyone.


Do not count on a class to give you the skills you need to be a successful clinical physicist. If you want to be a clinical medical physicist you should choose a program appropriate for that. There is a reason residencies are typically 1 - 2 years -- that's how long it takes to train you to be competent in the clinic. You cannot get that kind of a training in a single course, so if a program doesn't offer training throughout the curriculum, as Wisconsin doesn't, and you think that it's appropriate for you then you should reconsider Wisconsin as your first choice. Before I accepted UWM's offer I was interested in the clinical track but there just wasn't a whole lot of funding available so I took an offer in imaging. I'm glad I did since I'm not really interested in clinical anymore.

Kites
Posts: 37
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:17 pm

Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby Kites » Fri Feb 25, 2011 3:36 pm

Twistor,

You're in a phd for medical physics so maybe you can give me an honest perspective on this. Wisconsin is telling me that they have unofficial ways of grafting experience, like following clinical personnel to outlying clinics. This sounds like hog wash to me.

What about you?

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twistor
Posts: 1531
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Re: Hard Choice: Med. Phys. MS vs PhD

Postby twistor » Fri Feb 25, 2011 5:17 pm

Kites wrote:Twistor,

You're in a phd for medical physics so maybe you can give me an honest perspective on this. Wisconsin is telling me that they have unofficial ways of grafting experience, like following clinical personnel to outlying clinics. This sounds like hog wash to me.

What about you?


The best thing to do is to talk to students to find out what's actually available. One thing I've learned is that departments do their best to sell themselves. If something sounds too good to be true it probably is. Wisconsin does have connections to offer outside clinical experience but there are fewer opportunities than you might think.




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