Careers: Employment Opportunities in Medical Physics
Graduates trained in Medical Physics enjoy a wide variety of employment opportunities. Students at the Ph.D. level with interest in academic careers will find jobs as faculty members in departments of Medical Physics, Radiology, Radiation Oncology, Nuclear Medicine, Physics or Nuclear Engineering. Additionally, Ph.D. graduates may be employed in government labs or in industry. The research work of Ph.D. Medical Physics graduates is primarily in areas related to developing and evaluating new methods for the diagnosis and treatment of disease, and in new arenas such as molecular imaging and therapeutics, small animal imaging, and functional imaging. Any area of medical research that uses ionizing or non-ionizing radiation would require the involvement of physicists.
Ph.D. students trained with a specialty in Health Physics may find employment as Radiation Safety Officers at universities or large laboratories, or they may be employed as faculty in Health Physics training programs. Specialists in Health Physics will also help meet the growing demand for workers trained in radiation safety following the federal government's new initiatives in homeland security.
In addition to the academic and research job opportunities for Medical Physics graduates, there is also the career path of clinical physicist. Every hospital and clinic that uses radiation requires the services of individuals trained to maintain the diagnostic and therapeutic equipment needed to serve patients. Medical Physicists in Radiation Oncology also participate directly in clinical service by performing treatment planning for patients according to the treatment regimen prescribed by the Radiation Oncologist. In addition, clinical physicists are involved in active research to implement and develop novel therapies. Clinical physicists may be employed at the M.S. or Ph.D. level. The Duke Medical Physics Program would provide the specialized training necessary for graduates to become board-eligible clinical physicists if they so choose.