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Become A Medical Physicist

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Working As A Medical Physicist

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Controlling Machines and Processes
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $99,290

    Average Salary

What Does A Medical Physicist Do

Radiation therapists treat cancer and other diseases in patients by administering radiation treatments.

Duties

Radiation therapists typically do the following:

  • Explain treatment plans to the patient and answer questions about treatment
  • Follow safety procedures to protect the patient and themselves from overexposure to radiation
  • Examine machines to make sure they are safe and working properly
  • X ray the patient to determine the exact location of the area requiring treatment
  • Check computer programs to make sure the machine will give the correct dose of radiation to the appropriate area of the patient's body
  • Operate the machine to treat the patient with radiation
  • Monitor the patient to check for unusual reactions to the treatment
  • Keep detailed records of treatment

Radiation therapists operate machines called linear accelerators, which are used to deliver radiation therapy. These machines direct high-energy x rays at specific cancer cells in a patient's body, shrinking or removing them. 

Radiation therapists are part of the oncology team that treats patients with cancer. They often work with the following specialists:

  • Radiation oncologists, physicians who specialize in radiation therapy
  • Oncology nurses, registered nurses who specialize in caring for patients with cancer
  • Medical physicists, physicists who help in planning of radiation treatments and help to develop better and safer radiation therapies

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How To Become A Medical Physicist

Most radiation therapists complete programs that lead to an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy. Radiation therapists must be licensed or certified in most states. Requirements vary by state, but often include passing a national certification exam.

Education

Employers usually prefer to hire applicants who have an associate’s degree or a bachelor's degree in radiation therapy. However, candidates may qualify for some positions by completing a 12-month certificate program.

Radiation therapy programs include courses in radiation therapy procedures and the scientific theories behind them. These programs often include experience in a clinical setting and courses in human anatomy and physiology, physics, algebra, computer science, and research methodology. In 2014, there were about 120 accredited educational programs recognized by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Radiation therapists must follow exact instructions and input exact measurements to make sure the patient is exposed to the correct amount of radiation.

Interpersonal skills. Radiation therapists work closely with patients. It is important that therapists be comfortable interacting with people who may be going through physical and emotional stress.

Physical stamina. Radiation therapists must be able to be on their feet for long periods and be able to lift and move patients who need assistance.

Technical skills. Radiation therapists work with computers and large pieces of technological equipment, so they must be comfortable operating those devices.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

In most states, radiation therapists must be licensed or certified. Requirements vary by state, but typically include graduation from an accredited radiation therapy program and American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification.

To become ARRT certified, an applicant must complete an accredited radiation therapy program, adhere to ARRT ethical standards, and pass the ARRT certification exam. The exam covers radiation protection and quality assurance, clinical concepts in radiation oncology, treatment planning, treatment delivery, and patient care and education. A list of accredited programs is available from ARRT.

Many jobs also require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or basic life support (BLS) certification.

Advancement

With additional education and certification, therapists can become medical dosimetrists. Dosimetrists are responsible for calculating the correct dose of radiation that is used in the treatment of cancer patients.

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Medical Physicist jobs

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Medical Physicist Demographics

Gender

Male

63.9%

Female

26.5%

Unknown

9.7%
Ethnicity

White

61.1%

Asian

23.4%

Hispanic or Latino

7.2%

Unknown

6.7%

Black or African American

1.6%
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Languages Spoken

German

25.0%

Spanish

25.0%

Italian

16.7%

Hindi

8.3%

Cantonese

8.3%

Mandarin

8.3%

Arabic

8.3%
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Medical Physicist Education

Schools

Wayne State University

15.8%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

9.5%

University of Toledo

7.4%

Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science

6.3%

East Carolina University

6.3%

University of Kentucky

5.3%

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

4.2%

Columbia University

4.2%

University of Missouri - Columbia

4.2%

San Diego State University

4.2%

Duke University

4.2%

University of Florida

3.2%

University of Utah

3.2%

Vanderbilt University

3.2%

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

3.2%

University of Pennsylvania

3.2%

University of Cincinnati

3.2%

Cleveland State University

3.2%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

3.2%

Wake Forest University

3.2%
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Majors

Public Health

51.1%

Physics

18.2%

Medical Technician

8.4%

Nuclear And Industrial Radiologic Technologies

2.7%

Business

2.2%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

2.2%

Nuclear Engineering

2.2%

Physiology And Anatomy

1.8%

Biomedical Engineering

1.8%

Medicine

1.3%

Computer Science

1.3%

Health And Wellness

1.3%

Electrical Engineering

1.3%

Mathematics

0.9%

Computer Engineering

0.9%

Management

0.4%

Health Education

0.4%

Biology

0.4%

Photography

0.4%

Engineering Physics

0.4%
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Degrees

Masters

58.1%

Doctorate

24.8%

Other

11.5%

Bachelors

3.4%

Certificate

1.3%

Associate

0.9%
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Real Medical Physicist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Medical Physicist Trinity Health Minot, ND May 09, 2016 $225,000
Medical Physicist Trinity Health Minot, ND Sep 13, 2016 $220,000
Medical Physicist II-Therapy Adventist Health System/Sunbelt Inc. Orlando, FL Oct 10, 2016 $200,686
Medical Physicist Swedishamerican Health System Rockford, IL Jun 16, 2016 $195,146
Medical Physicist II-Therapy Adventist Health System/Sunbelt Inc. Orlando, FL Apr 26, 2016 $191,232
Medical Physicist Susquehanna Health System Williamsport, PA Jan 10, 2016 $181,251
Medical Physicist UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport, PA Jul 10, 2016 $181,251
Chief Medical Physicist UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside Erie, PA Jan 05, 2016 $180,584
Medical Physicist Benefis Health System Great Falls, MT Jul 22, 2016 $180,300
Medical Physicist Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis Memphis, TN Jan 07, 2016 $176,602
Medical Physicist I Vantage Oncology, LLC Temecula, CA Sep 05, 2015 $171,134
Medical Physicist Trinity Health Mason City, IA Dec 30, 2015 $170,000
Senior Medical Physicist Advanced Medical Physics The Woodlands, TX Jul 11, 2016 $135,560 -
$143,000
Medical Physicist Allegheny Health Network Kittanning, PA Aug 19, 2016 $135,013
Medical Physicist I Vantage Oncology LLC San Bernardino, CA Aug 26, 2016 $135,000
Medical Physicist Svasan, Inc. Marietta, OH Jan 09, 2016 $135,000
Medical Physicist Allegheny Health Network Pittsburgh, PA Jun 01, 2015 $135,000
Medical Physicist University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE Nov 20, 2016 $133,000
Medical Physicist The Regional Cancer Center Erie, PA Sep 12, 2015 $132,080
Junior Medical Physicist East Texas Medical Center Tyler, TX Nov 01, 2015 $131,168
Medical Physicist Willis-Knighton Medical Center, Inc. Shreveport, LA Aug 31, 2015 $120,000
Medical Physicist Global Physics Solutions Delray Beach, FL Sep 15, 2016 $120,000
Medical Physicist Global Physics Solutions Glenwood, IL Sep 20, 2016 $120,000
Medical Physicist William Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak, MI May 27, 2015 $120,000
Medical Physicist Banner Health Chandler, AZ May 23, 2016 $119,475 -
$190,840
Associate Medical Physicist Mercy Hospital Springfield Springfield, MO May 16, 2015 $118,813
Medical Physicist Associates In Medical Physics LLC Portsmouth, VA Jan 12, 2015 $115,000

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Top Skills for A Medical Physicist

TreatmentPlanningSystemImrtQALinacHDRBrachytherapyDosimetryVarianLinearAcceleratorsRadiationSafetyRadiationTherapyProceduresAcceptanceOncologyWeeklyChartChecksSRSElektaSynergyMedicalPhysicsSupportMapcheckVarian21ExNucletronHDRLDRAnnualQA

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Top Medical Physicist Skills

  1. Treatment Planning System
  2. Imrt QA
  3. Linac
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Trained on Accuray Tomotherapy delivery and treatment planning system.
  • Performed IMRT QA on Varian 23EX accelerator with Map Check device.
  • Accepted and commissioned new Varian Clinac 600C.
  • Planned and delivered HDR Brachytherapy treatments with both Varian Brachyvision and Nucletron Oncentra treatment planning systems.
  • Assisted in the commissioning of Portal Dosimetry systems on Trilogy and True Beam.

Top Medical Physicist Employers

Medical Physicist Videos

Medical Physics - How X-Rays and CT Scans Work - ALevel/GCSE Physics - (10'25'')

So you want to get a PhD in medical physics?

Medical Physics MSc at the University of Surrey

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