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Medical physics

  Medical physics is a branch of applied physics concerning the application of physics to medicine. It generally concerns physics as applied to medical imaging and radiotherapy, although a medical physicist may also work in many other areas of healthcare. A medical physics department may be based in either a hospital or a university and its work is likely to include research, technical development and clinical healthcare.

Of the large body of medical physicists in academia and clinics, roughly 85% practice or specialize in various forms of therapy, 10% in Diagnostic imaging, and 5% in nuclear medicine.[1] Areas of specialty in medical physics however are widely varied in scope and breadth.


Areas of specialty

Medical imaging


Treatment of disease

Physiological measurement techniques

  Used to monitor and measure various physiological parameters. Many physiological measurement techniques are non-invasive and can be used in conjunction with, or as an alternative to, other invasive methods.

Radiation protection

Medical computing and mathematics


Education and training

The primary clinical responsibility of the Qualified Medical Physicist is to "assure the safe and effective delivery of radiation to achieve a diagnostic or therapeutic result as prescribed in patient care (Medical Physics Scope of Practice)".[2] Various training programs exist to accommodate the demand for specialization in this field.

In North America

In the United States, the Consumer Assurance of Radiologic Excellence Act (H.R. 1426) also called the CARE Bill (under consideration by the U.S. congress in 2007) has required minimum training and qualifications for individuals to practice medical physics. The American Board of Radiology currently certifies medical physicists and desires that all candidates receive consistent training in a CAMPEP accredited clinical residency program. The American Association of Physicists in Medicine supports this desire.[3]

In North America, the degree of medical physics can be offered at a Masters level, doctorate level, and/or residency levels. Several large and established universities offer these degrees in Canada and the United States. Some programs such as the University of Texas Health Science Center Department of Radiology even offer Dual Medical Residency and Ph.D. degrees in medical physics.[4] Eleven universities in the United States, and four programs in Canada currently have graduate programs in Medical Physics that are accredited by The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs (CAMPEP). As CAMPEP continues to gain support from bodies such as The American Association of Physicists in Medicine[5], the American Board of Radiology has specified that graduation from a CAMPEP accredited clinical training program be considered a requirement to sit for the ABR certification exams by 2012.[6][7][8]

The list of schools offering education in the field are:

  • CAMPEP Accredited Graduate Programs in Medical Physics
  • CAMPEP non-Accredited Graduate Programs in Medical Physics
  • Other list of Canadian programs

In the United Kingdom

The person concerned must first gain a first or upper second-class honours degree in a physical or engineering science subject before they can start the Grade A medical physics training within the NHS.

Trainees can complete Grade A training in fifteen months provided they hold an MSc from an IPEM accredited center in the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland. For these candidates, the grade A training consists of pure clinical experience. Trainees applying for grade A trainee holding only a degree in a physical or engineering science subject must undertake a combined study and clinical training program. This program consists of two years of clinical placement, during which the trainee will study for an MSc in Medical Physics which is approved by the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM). The MSc will be either at Swansea, Sheffield, Surrey, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Aberdeen, King's or Queen Mary's. Successful completion of the Grade A training programme leads to an IPEM Diploma. The trainee can then apply for a Grade B position, which will consists of the IPEM's Programme of Advanced Training (PAT) which takes a further two years and leads to Corporate Membership of the IPEM. At this stage the physicist is eligible for Senior Grade B positions.

Other programs around the world

  • A partial list of academic programs

Some major involved organizations around the world


  • IOMP: International Organisation for Medical Physics (link)
  • ASTRO: American Society for Therapeutic Radiology And Oncology (link)
  • RSNA: Radiological Society of North America
  • ACMP: American College of Medical Physics (link)
  • ISMRM: International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (link)
  • AAPM: American Association of Physicists in Medicine
  • EFOMP: European Federation of Organisations for Medical Physics (link)
  • ABR: American Board of Radiology (link)
  • APSM: Association of physical scientists in medicine (link)
  • COMP: Canadian Organization of Medical Physicists (link)
  • IPEM: Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (link)
  • ABMP: American Board of Medical Physics (link)
  • SFPM: French society of Medical Physicists (link)
  • APSM: Association of physical scientists in medicine (Ireland) (link)
  • ACPSEM: Australasian college of physical scientists and engineers in medicine (link)

Legislative and advisory

Some major journals

  • Medical Physics
  • JMP: The official journal of Association of Medical Physicists of India
  • Medical Engineering and Physics
  • Physica Medica
  • JACMP: Journal of Applied Clinical Physics
  • JMRI: Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Radiology
  • JRAD: Journal of Radiology
  • The British Journal of Radiology
  • European Journal of Radiology
  • Indian Journal of Radiology and Imaging


  1. ^ Alternative Clinical Medical Physics Training Pathways: Report of AAPM Task Group 133, p.21
  2. ^ Alternative Clinical Medical Physics Training Pathways: Report of AAPM Task Group 133, p.4
  3. ^ Alternative Clinical Medical Physics Training Pathways: Report of AAPM Task Group 133, p.24
  4. ^
  5. ^ AAPM stated policy:
  6. ^ Hendee, W.R., Accreditation, Certification and Maintenance of Certification in Medical Physics: The Need for Convergence. NCCAAPM meeting, Nov 19,, 2004.
  7. ^ Alternative Clinical Medical Physics Training Pathways: Report of AAPM Task Group 133, p.6
  8. ^ AAPM presentation report p.8

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Medical_physics". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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