How Do I Become a Medical Physicist?

Jessica F. Black
Jessica F. Black
Medical physicists often work with radiotherapy and medical imaging.
Medical physicists often work with radiotherapy and medical imaging.

The steps that you will need to take to become a medical physicist are extremely particular and will require an advanced degree in a highly specific field, such as medical physics or a related subject area. Education is essential to enter this profession and may take at least six years to complete. There are various examinations that will need to be successfully completed before you can become a medical physicist, and most locations will not administer these exams until you have finished a certain amount of training in the field. This part of the process could take up to two years in addition to your education, so you should research career requirements before making a formal decision to enter this profession.

In order to find the right school, you should enroll for a four year undergraduate university that offers a degree program in medical physics. You will then need to complete general coursework before you can take advanced science classes. The bachelor's degree program may have broader course categories than the master's degree program that you will need to enter. Some undergraduate coursework may include general physics, biology, chemistry, and various other sciences. After graduating you should find a school that specifically has a medical physics graduate program, because this will increase your chances to become a medical physicist.

During graduate school, your coursework should begin to focus on your future field of expertise and may include classes such as radioisotopes in medical and biology, introduction to medical physics, imaging in medicine, physics of diagnostic radiology, magnetic resonance imaging, and biomedical optics. Internships may be offered during your undergraduate studies, and this is an excellent opportunity to receive the hands-on training needed to become a medical physicist. You may also consider seeking part-time employment or an additional program during your graduate studies in order to apply your classroom knowledge to the field. This profession is primarily based on radiology, and you will need to excel in all related coursework.

Before you can become a medical physicist and begin work, you may need to complete an extensive training program. These programs are usually offered after to students who have a master's degree. In addition to education and several years of training, most countries require that you complete several examinations to receive certification in the field. For example, the United States' American Board of Radiology (ABR) administers several exams to applicants. Passing these exams or similar licensing tests will allow you to legally practice this profession in your jurisdiction.

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    • Medical physicists often work with radiotherapy and medical imaging.
      Medical physicists often work with radiotherapy and medical imaging.