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Medical Physicist Career / Job Prospects

What Medical Physicists do:
Would you like a challenging, rewarding and exciting physics career with good employment prospects? Medical Physicists are in-demand allied healthcare professionals who work in hospitals and universities relating physics theories, concepts and methods to medicine.

Medical Physicists who work in hospitals can work as part of the cancer care team planning diagnostic and interventional radiology treatments for patients. In the specialty of nuclear medicine, medical physicists work closely with physicians outlining internal organs for radionuclides, and establishing important physiological variables, such as blood flow and metabolic rates.

Medical physicists who work in a university setting carry out fundamental research and development into key areas such as heart disease, mental illness and cancer. Other important services provided by medical physicists include working with imaging systems, planning of radiation installations, assessment of equipment function, and the management of radiation hazards.

The main duties of a Medical Physicist include:

  • Diagnosing and treating patients with disease
  • Studying the supply of radioactive substances in the body
  • Specializing in medical computing and mathematics, medical imaging, physiological measurement techniques and radiation protection
  • Processing medical images
  • Clinical service and consultation
  • Measuring the amount of radioactivity in foodstuffs
  • Research and development
  • Educating and training future medical students, medical physicists, resident physicians and technologists

Education & Qualifications: 
To become a certified medical physicists, you must hold a graduate degree and have relevant clinical experience. Certification can be attained from the American Board of Radiology (ABR) or the Canadian College of Physicists in Medicine (CCPM). Certification in Medical Physics by the ABR is a 3 step Process:

Step 1 is a computer-based exam that you can take anytime after you have enrolled in a medical physics graduate program accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Medical Physics Educational Programs (CAMPEP).

Step 2 is an additional computer-based exam that you are entitled to take after you have completed your graduate degree, and a three year (36 months) full-time clinical residency under the supervision of a certified medical physicist.

Step 3 is an oral test that you can take after passing step 1 and 2.

Salary & Job Prospects:  
Qualified medical physicists can expect to earn salaries between $90,000 - $150,000 per year. Career Outlook - There is likely to be an increasing shortage of medical physicists in the coming years due to retirement, as almost half of all medical physicists in the U.S. are over the age of 50.

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