Authorized Medical Physicist (AMP)

April 29, 2009 · Posted in Employment, State / Fed Regs · Comment 

10CFR Part 35 requires that a physicist who needs to do HDR procedure be listed as an Authorized Medical Physicist (AMP) in the material license. The link below discusses the §35.51 Training for an Authorized Medical Physicist.

I found this link to be quite useful, and I refer to it many times, so I am putting it here for your reference. This is especially useful for and applicable to new physicists who need to do HDR or for the RSOs who need to amend the material license to include new physicists in the license. I am guessing that all the agreement states have adopted this regulation from the NRC (or something similar to it).

Further, if you are changing your job and are already listed as an AMP in the material license in your present job, it’s important to take a copy of the material license with you to your new job! Believe me, this will save you, the RSO, and the institution a lot of time and possibly spare all of you a headache.

Physics Fees and Medical Physicists’ Salaries

April 28, 2009 · Posted in Employment · Comment 

As physicists, we most likely have at least two things in common: 1. We are extremely busy with technical and scientific issues every day, and 2. Most of us are salaried employees. Putting these two things together, it is probably fair to say that most of us do not have the time to find out how our salaries are determined and where they come from. My personal feeling is that knowing the source of our salaries–which basically boils down to how much our organizations receive for our services–would help us negotiate better when it comes to raises and benefits. If like me, you are a busy, but curious physicist–someone who always wanted to know the formula for CPT but did not have the time to find out–the article in the link below gives you an exact formula for how Medicare pays MDs. This analytical article is very informative, educational, and useful. While the formula in this article applies to physicians–not physicists–it makes sense that a similar document and formula exists for technical and physics charges. If someone knows a similar source for physics charges/fees, please share it with the rest of us.  Here is the link to the article:

How to Use

April 27, 2009 · Posted in Miscellaneous · Comment 

I’ve received several emails regarding the “Post A New Topic” form in the left sidebar of the site.

The form is there so you can write a post and publish to this blog. After completing the form, your content will be published to, much like any other post you currently see on the site. True to blog format, posts are in reverse chronological order.

You can “Start a New Topic” to share your thoughts, ask a question or write about anything medical physics-related (news, events, etc). Again, true to blog format, readers can then leave a reply to the post by submitting a comment via the comment link.

Several things to keep in mind when you complete the “Start a New Topic” form:

1-Whatever you put in the “Name” field will appear at the top of your post after “Written by.” Simply write “Anonymous” if you would like to remain unknown (i.e. if you would like to share your thoughts anonymously).

2-The “Email” field is optional. You do not need to complete this field in order to submit a post. It is there to facilitate contact between the reader and poster.

3-The “Post Title” field is your headline/subject line. It will appear as the title of the post (for example, the post title for this article is “How to Use”).

4-Finally, write whatever you want to say in the “Post Body” field and hit send. All posts will appear on the site within 12 hr of submission. There is a lag time to ensure posts are not spam.

Lastly, feel free to leave comments whenever you have something to say in response to any article or post you read. Blogs are meant to promote discussion and an exchange of ideas. To leave a comment, simply click the red “Comment” link under the post title. If you are on the post page itself, the comment area is at the very bottom of the post. All comments will appear at the bottom of their respective blog post.

All medical physicists are welcome and encouraged to leave comments and/or to submit new posts.

Making the 2009 AAPM Annual Meeting in Anaheim More Economical

April 27, 2009 · Posted in Conferences / Meetings · Comment 

I have always attended either AAPM summer school or the AAPM annual meeting (or both). The AAPM annual meeting and summer school have always been an excellent source of information for professional growth and development, especially in recent years. The program is rich, the speakers are knowledgable, and the exhibitions are informative and helpful. In addition, the meeting has always been a place to meet and unite with older friends and colleagues. Here are some tips to make this year’s trip a little more comfortable and economical. Read more

Prostate Cancer: IMRT or Seed Implant

April 25, 2009 · Posted in Op-Ed · 5 Comments 

I was in the OR last Friday for a prostate implant procedure. We (i.e. the physics group) prepared the seed, did the proper QA, and set them on the table–ready for implant.  Everything was set. After a short while, a nurse brought the patient into the room. He looked somewhat scared and panicked, as many patients do when they are brought into the OR. He was wondering what we were going to do with him.  He probably remembered the pain he went through when his PVA was done with an ultrasound probe while he was awake. Shortly thereafter, the radiation oncologists and urologists, while chatting it up with each other, arrived in the room. The nurse and the doctors helped to place the patient on the table.  The anesthesiologists prepared to put him under for the implant procedure. Read more

Lester Skaggs, Ph.D. (1911-2009)

April 25, 2009 · Posted in Personal News · Comment 

lesterskaggsLast week the medical physics community lost a pioneer.

Lester Skaggs, Ph.D. passed away on April 3, 2009 at the age of 97 of complications from renal failure. In a career that spanned almost 70 years, his contributions were not only numerous but enduring. A leader and innovator in the truest sense of the word, Dr. Skaggs’s work in the field of medical physics over the course of his career is inspiring for young and established medical physicists alike. Our sincerest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Lester Skaggs helped develop the detonation device for the first atomic bombs as a physicist with the Manhattan Project and then turned his attention to pioneering medical applications for radiation.

A professor at the University of Chicago from 1948 to 1997, Dr. Skaggs, 97, died of complications from renal failure Friday, April 3, in Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, U. of C. spokesman John Easton said.

Shortly after joining the U. of C., Dr. Skaggs was put in charge of developing radiation therapy facilities at the Argonne Cancer Research Hospital, the first medical facility to use radiation to treat cancer when it opened in 1953. (The hospital is now part of University of Chicago Medical Center.)

Along with colleague Lawrence Lanzl, Dr. Skaggs built a linear accelerator, called the Lineac, for medical applications. The Lineac took eight years to finish and cost $450,000. Completed in 1959, the machine was used for 34 years to treat patients from all over the country.

The Lineac was an extension of pioneering work in medical radiation Dr. Skaggs and Lanzl did beginning in 1945. With colleagues from the University of Illinois, they used a high-energy radiation betatron to treat a physics graduate student with a brain tumor, said Lanzl’s wife, Elisabeth, a graduate student who participated in the work.

Although the student died, the treatment shrunk his tumor and was documented in articles that advanced the understanding the medical uses of high-energy radiation, Elisabeth Lanzl said.

Dr. Skaggs designed and built an early analog computer to measure radiation dose to various issues in the early 1960s. In the 1970s, he, with colleague Franca Kuchnir, developed a method to produce neutrons for radiation therapy.

After retiring from the U. of C., Dr. Skaggs spent five years working on a neutron-therapy facility at a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

Raised on a farm in Missouri, Dr. Skaggs rode a horse three miles to his one-room schoolhouse. In high school, he and a friend built a radio, seeding his fascination with technical machinery, said his daughter Margaret Skaggs.

He got a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s in physics form the University of Missouri, then studied nuclear physics at the University of Chicago, completing his doctorate in 1939.

He worked briefly at Michael Reese Hospital and with the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, then decamped for Los Alamos to take part in the top secret Manhattan Project.

The mission given him and colleagues was to develop a virtually fail-safe fuse for the atomic bomb. The trick was to set off the bomb in a way that allowed the plane that dropped it fly away safely.

The team came up with a detonation device triggered in relation to its distance from the ground. During his tenure at the U. of C. Dr. Skaggs lived in Park Forest.

Dr. Skaggs’ wife, Ruth, died in 2005.

Survivors include a son, John; a daughter, Mary Anderson; a sister, Lillian Foster; and three grandchildren.

Two memorial services will be held on May 16, the first at 10 a.m. in Faith United Protestant Church, 10 Hemlock St., Park Forest, the second at 3 p.m. in Montgomery Place, 5550 South Shore Drive, Chicago.

Radiation Passport: Radiation Exposure iPhone App

April 17, 2009 · Posted in Miscellaneous · 6 Comments 

iphoneTidal Pool, a Canadian software company, has developed and released a radiation exposure app for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. The app is being sold online for $2.99 at the Apple App Store. Before you get all excited like I did, you should know that the app was not developed for medical physicists (or physicians), but rather for the everyday individual interested in keeping track of and calculating their cancer risk due to exposure to ionizing radiation (e.g. medical-related imaging) as well as background radiation due to lifestyle and location. In fact, the purpose of the app as stated by the developer is: “…to educate about the radiation and cancer risks associated with medical imaging exams and procedures that physicians want you to undergo.

That said, it would be interesting to know how the app calculates actual radiation exposure to the patient for each imaging test as well as the associated cancer risks. For example, just how much does one’s chance of getting cancer go up by getting a CAT scan? Is this app going to deter patients from getting imaging tests for fear of getting cancer?

While this app raises a lot of questions for me, as a medical physicist, it also highlights the absence of any real iPhone apps out there for the medical physics community.

That said, If a decent app comes out that would be of use in medical physics, I might be inclined to go out and buy an iPhone. Until then, though, I’ll stick with my Blackberry, thank you very much.

Medical Physics Post-Doctoral / Residency Openings

April 13, 2009 · Posted in Education / Training, Employment · 1 Comment 

Update as of August 8, 2009: The post-doctoral/residency openings listed below have all been filled. New openings will be posted as they become available on the mdphysics medical physics job board.

Recent post-doctorate positions open in medical physics:

Position 1
The Department of Radiation Physics at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando, Florida, is looking for a medical physics post-doctoral fellow. The successful fellow will work under the supervision of Dr. Katja Langen. The fellow is expected to work on a project that is designed to assess the dosimetric effect of intra-fraction motion. This project is funded by one of our industrial partners. It will be conducted in a clinical setting, using research platforms of commercial treatment planning systems. Ideally we hope to recruit a person with a medical physics degree or someone with closely related experience. The applicant is expected to assist on all levels of this project, including code development, data generation, and publication.

The Radiation Physics Department is equipped with 2 modern Varian accelerators, a Novalis unit, two TomoTherapy units, a HDR unit, and a Calypso system. It is staffed by 6 full time physicists, 1 physics associate, 2 medical phyics residence, and 2 post-doctoral fellows.

The M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando is part of the Orlando Health system. We are located in downtown Orlando, Florida.

Interested applications are encouraged to submit an application to:
Katja Langen, Ph. D.
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando
1400 S. Orange Av., MP-730
Orlando, FL 32806

Position 2
The Department of Radiation Oncology, Division of Medical Physics is currently recruiting for a medical physics resident. We expect the chosen candidate to start in the summer of 2009. Preference will be given to candidates holding a graduate degree in medical physics, physics or related sciences.

The department is offers cutting edge technology, with active programs in Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy and RadioSurgery, Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy, Image Guided Radiotherapy and CT and Ultrasound based Brachytherapy.

We are outfitted with two in house multi slice CT simulators with 4D capabilities. The Division of Medical Physics maintains 6 Varian linear accelerators with IMRT and IGRT capabilities including a Novalis Tx machine and a TomoTherapy unit. Additional equipment includes two
Nucletron HDR units, and an in-house dedicated imaging center including a GE PET/CT unit and SPECT. The operating rooms at CTRC are used for LDR and HDR brachytherapy implants. We also have a very active total body photon and electron (TBI and TSE) irradiation program.

There are several active research programs in the areas of IMRT, IMRS, SBRT, Monte Carlo simulations, 4D treatment planning, IGRT and adaptive radiotherapy. The Division of Medical Physics is comprised of 5 faculty physicists, 5 dosimetrists, 13 doctoral students, three postdoc fellows, 5 dosimetry students, and a physics assistant.

The successful candidate will possess the ability to work well in a strong team environment, and contribute to our clinical programs. The residency program is structured based on the AAPM residency recommendations in therapy physics and we are currently seeking
accreditation from CAMPEP.

Interested candidates should submit an interest letter (personal statement), a CV and three letters of recommendation to: Dr Niko Papanikolaou, Residency Program Director, Department of Radiation Oncology. Cancer Therapy and Research Center at UTHSCSA, 7979 Wurzbach Rd, San Antonio, TX 78229.

All residency appointments are designated as security sensitive positions.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

Niko Papanikolaou, PhD
Professor, Radiation Oncology and Radiology
Chief, Division of Medical Physics
University of Texas Health Science Center
Department of Radiation Oncology
7979 Wurzbach Rd, MC 7889
San Antonio TX 78229-4427

Position 3
The Department of Radiation Oncology, Physics Section, invites applications for a “Clinical Physics Associate” to begin on or before July 1, 2009. This is a clinical medical physics residency position and no prior clinical medical physics experience is required. This physics professional receives training and provides clinical medical physics service in radiation oncology under the supervision of qualified medical physicists. The Clinical Physics Associate is expected to: provide all treatment planning and quality assurance aspects for external beam radiotherapy and brachytherapy; perform acceptance testing, commissioning, and calibration of therapy equipment, computer systems, instruments, and devices; provide clear written documentation as required; participate in the selection and evaluation of new therapy equipment and systems; participate in the development of new treatment programs; participate in clinical and didactic instruction, all under the direction and guidance of faculty physicists. Minimum qualifications are a M.S. in medical physics or a Ph.D. in a related field. Strong preference is given to candidates having an advanced degree (M.S. or Ph.D.) in medical physics from a CAMPEP accredited program.

The Radiation Oncology Department is part of the Arizona Cancer Center a NCI designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Five attending physicians and six medical residents see approximately 1200 new patient consults annually and provide treatments using three linear
accelerators (Novalis/Varian, Elekta SLi and TomoTherapy HiArt), HDR brachythearpy (Varian VariSource), LDR prostate seed implants, eye plaques, and cervical implants and other special procedures performed in our department including SRS, SBRT, and IGRT. The physics section
is comprised of four physics faculty and two medical physics residents (clinical physics associates). The University of Arizona is a major research university having excellent resources and abundant opportunities for collaborations and career growth, providing
exceptional benefits, and many educational, cultural, and recreational experiences. It is located in Tucson, Arizona in the heart of the Sonoran Desert.

Application must be made online at (Job #42717).

Application review begins 04/24/2009 and continues until the open position is filled.

The University of Arizona is an EEO/AA Employer-M/W/D/V.

Russell J. Hamilton, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Head of Physics Section
The University of Arizona, Department of Radiation Oncology
1501 N. Campbell Avenue
P.O. Box 245081
Tucson, AZ 85724-5081

Upcoming MTMI Workshops

April 2, 2009 · Posted in Workshops · Comment 

MTMI will be holding a Hands-On Nuclear Medicine Physics Workshop on April 25-26, 2009. This 2-day, 12-hour CAMPEP approved workshop will be held at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA and provides an opportunity to receive practical training on the testing and quality control procedures required for ACR and ICANL accreditation and for ongoing technical support of nuclear medicine facilities. The hands-on training program is organized with small group laboratory sessions using NM equipment and phantoms to demonstrate testing and QC procedures and is conducted by an experienced faculty. Due to the hands-on nature of this training, attendance is limited. So please register as soon as possible. More information (including registration and a detailed schedule) for the workshop can be found here.

The next physics program on the calendar is Hands-On Multi-Slice CT Workshop. This 3-day, 15-hour CAMPEP approved workshop will be held on May 29-31, 2009 at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. This workshop will emphasize the ACR CT facility accreditation process, testing procedures and the QA measurements required. The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has graciously allowed the use of several multi-slice CT units for this training. These will include GE 64 slice, Siemens 64 slice and Philips 64 slice CT units. More information (including registration and a detailed schedule) for the workshop can be found here.

MOSFET CT Dose Workshop at Duke University

April 2, 2009 · Posted in Workshops · Comment 

This is an announcement for the MOSFET CT Dosimetry Workshop at Duke University, which will be held June 12-13, 2009. The course directors for the workshop are Donald Frush, MD, FACR and Terry Yoshizumi, PhD. To register, visit Here are some useful specs for those interested in attending:

Registration fees
early registration: $275/1 day, $505/2days  before 4-29-09
late registration: $375/1 day, $575/2 days    after 4-30-09

You may register Day1 or Both Day1 and Day 2 (Hands-on).
Space for Day 2 (Hands-on) is limited to 10 people (First come basis)

Day1: Friday 6-12-09
Morning- basic lectures on MOSFET and CT dosimetry
Afternoon: Clinical talks

Date 2: 8am -1 pm, Sat-6-13-09
Hands-on MOSFET dosimetry (space is limited to 10 people)

Guest Faculty
Abdelbasset Hallit, PhD, Best Medical Canada
Vladimir Varchena, MS, CIRS
Walter Huda, PhD, FAAPM, Medical University of South Carolina

Duke University Faculty
Donald Frush, MD, FACR
Terry Yoshizumi, PhD
Lynne Hurwitz, MD
Rendon Nelson, MD

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