A Nationwide Clinical Medical Physics Training Program — The First Two Years
In the United States, there are currently more radiation oncology based medical physics positions than qualified physicists. This presents a problem for a large cancer network with 80 physicist positions. To assist in alleviating the problem, a Medical Physicist Development Program (MPDP) was instituted in 2004 to recruit, hire, and provide structured clinical training to “junior” physicists over a two year mentor-ship period. The intent is for these physicists to attain ABR certification and remain in the network, assuming positions of greater responsibility. Preferred candidates for the MPDP are MS or PhD graduates of medical physics programs, though other exceptional candidates with advanced physics degrees are considered. Each program participant works under the direct supervision of a senior, board certified physicist mentor. The MPDP is lead by a committee of senior physicists, located in practices across the network, with primary committee responsibilities that include: candidate reviews for the program, report on the progress of participants, and program steering and development. The MPDP committee works to provide a broad based clinical experience for program participants to prepare them for board examinations. This includes providing clinical training on modalities that are not present in the participants’ home clinics. Since the program’s inception, the committee generated board preparation materials and implemented an annual mock oral examination. To date there have been 20 participants in the program, representing 16 practices in 13 US metropolitan areas. Of the 20, 16 are currently active in the program, one has matriculated through the program, and four have left to pursue positions elsewhere. Participants have attempted part I of the ABR examination six times, with five passing. Two participants have attempted and passed part II of the ABR examination. One participant attempted part III (oral exam) of the ABR examination, and did not pass. Future plans for the MPDP center on developing a curriculum based upon academic residencies in order to meet anticipated changes in ABR examination requirements.
KeywordsPhysicist training mentorship residency ABR
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