For the ABR examinees this week: You Will Pass If…

August 31, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification · Comment 

These are some encouraging statements for those taking the ABR Physics exam next week. I learned them through different stages of my life (when I was taking either academic or board exams). Here they are:

1- If it has been a priority of yours to be ABR certified, you’ll pass.

2- If you have studied hard enough, you’ll pass.

3- If I and other physicists have passed the board, you’ll pass too.

4- If you have studied so hard that you feel you know nothing, you’ll pass.

5- If you have studied hard and still are panicking, you’ll pass.

6- If you think you know everything, you’ll fail.

7- The night before the exam, do whatever you feel like. The day of the exam, be relaxed and focused, have confidence. On the exam, do the ones you know first. If you’re stumped on one question, take a deep breath and go to the next one (repeat, if necessary).

8- If you don’t pass this year, you will pass eventually.

9- We’d like you to post exam questions on this blog for discussion, so please post them soon afterward before you forget them! (Trust me, I forgot my questions within several days after my exam)

10- Good luck!

ABR Practice Exam Question 6 – D90/V100 Prostate Seed Implant

August 30, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification · Comment 

From a post-plan CT following a prostate seed implant, a physicist reported that D90 is equal to 80% of the prescribed dose and V100 is 95. What does he means by that statement?

1- The minimum dose to 90% of the target volume is equal to 80% of prescribed dose; and, 100% of the target volume receives 95% of prescribed dose.

2- The 90% isodose line covers 80% of the target volume; and, 95% of the target volume receives 100% of the prescribed dose.

3- 100% of the target volume receives 95% of the prescribed dose; and, the 90% isodose line covers 80% of the target volume.

4- The minimum dose to 90% of the target volume is equal to 80% of prescribed dose; and, 95% of the target volume receives 100% of the dose.

Click here for the answer to ABR Practice Exam Question 6

NEJM Article Questions Safety of Medical Imaging Procedures

August 27, 2009 · Posted in Imaging, Research · Comment 

nejm1An Original Article in the August 27, 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine raises concerns that imaging procedures, such as CT scans, that expose patients to low-dose ionizing radiation may be increasing their risk for cancer.

Fazel et al of Emory University obtained utilization data from just under 1 million nonelderly adults between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2007 in five areas in the U.S. Using this data, the authors estimated the cumulative effective doses of radiation from imaging procedures and calculated population-based rates of exposure. Annual effective doses were defined as low, moderate, high or very high.

The authors found that almost 70 percent of those studied were exposed to radiation by at least one imaging procedure. Read more

ABR Practice Exam Question 5 – Cesium-131 Brachytherapy

August 26, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification · 5 Comments 

Which of these statements is/are correct regarding a Cesium-131 brachytherapy source?

1- It emits gamma rays with a peak energy of 662 KeV.

2- Its half-value layer is around 5.5 mm lead.

3- Its half-life is 9.7 days.

4- Statements 1 and 2 are correct only.

5- None of the statements are correct.

Click here for the answer to ABR Practice Exam Question 5.

Interview Preparation for Medical Physics Graduate, Post-Doctoral and Residency Programs

August 24, 2009 · Posted in Education / Training · Comment 

interviewWhether it’s getting admissions to a medical physics graduate or residency program or securing a position as a medical physics post-doctoral fellow, one thing is for sure: it’s competitive–and it’s only going to get more competitive with time. There are many top-notch students vying for a spot in these programs. Having a strong academic background (e.g. good grades in relevant coursework) and stellar recommendation letters are definitely a must, but they’re not everything when the applicant pool is both large and well-qualified. Strong interviewing skills is one (often overlooked) way to set yourself apart from the rest of the applicants. Being well-prepared, confident and articulate at your admissions interview will not only put you in serious contention, but can also often seal the deal when it comes to admissions. Read more

ABR Practice Exam Question 4 – Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation (APBI)

August 22, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification · 1 Comment 

Which of these statements is/are not correct regarding “Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation” (APBI)?

1- APBI can be treated with external beam and mammosite only.

2- External beam based approaches seem to minimize the risk of seroma formation and infection compared to brachytherapy.

3- Radiation dose to uninvolved ipsilateral breast, heart and lung using brachytherapy technique is lower than other techniques.

4- IMRT technique improves upon 3D-CRT approach by enhancing conformity dose to tumor with a possible increase radiation dose to the uninvolved ipsilateral breast, heart and lung.

5- The PTV used for brachytherapy planning is typically smaller than the PTV for external beam technique, however, brachytherapy results in a significant dose inhomogenity.

Don’t take the exam if you don’t know the answer of this question.

Some of our readers have recommended that we do not post the answer at the same time as we post the question. We think it is a good suggestion, as it gives the readers a chance to think about the answer. Therefore, the answer will be posted within a couple of days.

Click here for the answer to ABR Practice Exam Question 4.

CAMPEP Programs among the 2010 U.S. News Top 25 Colleges/Universities

August 20, 2009 · Posted in Education / Training · 3 Comments 

usnewscoverIt’s that time of year again when U.S. News and World Report releases its list of the top colleges and universities. I have always found the U.S. News rankings to be interesting, so I thought it would be appropriate to post the most recent ranking (for the 2010 year) of the top 25 colleges and universities. Unfortunately, there is no official U.S. News ranking for the Best Medical Physics Programs. However, if you want to study medical physics at a CAMPEP accredited program and graduate from a “top 10″ college/university, you must attend either Columbia University or Duke University. It’s a shame that aside from Columbia, Duke, University of Chicago and Vanderbilt, there are no other universities with CAMPEP-accredited programs in the U.S. News list of top 25 best colleges and universities.

In case you are wondering what the list looks like this year, the schools are listed below. The universities with CAMPEP programs are bolded. Read more

ABR Practice Exam Question 3 – Time Error

August 15, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification · Comment 

To measure Time Error for a therapy machine (Co-60), a physicist took two different output measurements at two different time intervals. The result is listed below:

minute Exposure
T1 = 1 R1 = 100
T2 = 2 R2 = 201

What is the time error for this machine?

1- 0.59 seconds
2- 1 seconds
3- 0.29 seconds
4- 1.18 seconds
5- Cannot be determined from the data

Note: Co-60 machines may be out of the picture, but there may be a question on C0-60 machines on the exam. Although Time Error can be applicable to all therapy machines, it’s more applicable to Co machines.

Click here for the answer to ABR Practice Exam Question 3.

ABR Practice Exam Question 2 – Shielding

August 11, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification · Comment 

In a shielding evaluation (Survey) of a new vault that housed a Varian linear accelerator, In-Any-One-Hour Time Averaged Dose Equivalent Rate (Rh) was found to be 2.5 mr/hr in the unrestricted area. Which of the following are true?  (There may be multiple answers)

1- Rh is only applicable for a restricted area.

2- It is over the limit for restricted area and some action should be taken.

3- It is over the limit for unrestricted area and some action should be taken.

4- Rh is only applicable for radioactive materials shielding survey.

5- Value of Rh depends on average number of patient treatments in any one hour and the weekly time averaged dose equivalent rate.

Click here for the answer to ABR Practice Exam Question 2.

Open Medical Physics Residency Positions

August 9, 2009 · Posted in Education / Training · 3 Comments 

Just a note to let you know that there are two openings in the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Radiation Oncology Medical Physics Residency Program. The start date for the residency is January 2010. Applications will be accepted from August 1st until September 15th, 2009. The open residency positions have been listed on the medical physics job board alongside other employment opportunities.

Details on the residency program and a link to the application can be found here.

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