Open Medical Physics Residency Positions 2009-2010

November 22, 2009 · Written by ·

It’s that time of the year again. No, I’m not talking about the holiday season. I’m talking about medical physics residency application season! Ho, ho ho! Medical physics residency programs are looking to fill positions for next year, so as a reminder to those who are currently applying, here is a round up of CAMPEP-accredited programs (in alphabetical order) currently accepting applications and their deadlines. Direct links are provided to official application information for programs that provide such information on their websites. Also, be sure to check the listing of medical physics job openings for more residency positions as they are announced. Read more

Posted in: Education / Training · Tags: no tags

Practice ABR Radiologic Physics Oral Board Exam

November 15, 2009 · Written by ·

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is offering a Diagnostic Radiologic Physics Mock Oral Board Exam the weekend of April 17-18, 2010. Participation is limited, so sign up early. The practice exam dates have been added to the MDPhysics Event Calendar. The mock exam aims to provide the student with a simulation of the ABR oral exam environment by using similar exam format, questions and board-certified examiners.

This mock exam has been offered internally to physics residents and junior faculty with great success, and participation is now being extended outside MD Anderson. All proceeds (tuition is $500) will support medical physics educational programs at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

After taking the mock board exam, the student will be familiar with his or her individual areas of weakness to improve with additional study before the actual board exam. In addition, the mock board exam will allow for practicing the expression of coherent answers in a risk-free setting. Examiners will provide some guidance and feedback to the student on his or her performance.

For more information proceed to Imaging Physics Department’s education page or contact Georgeann Moore at

The course brochure and application can be found here.

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Posted in: Board Certification · Tags: no tags

How Well Do You Know Varian and Elekta?

November 8, 2009 · Written by ·

Varian and Elekta are two world leading (and competing) companies pioneering significant clinical solutions for treating cancer in radiation oncology. Any medical physicist is as familiar with the terms “Varian” and “Elekta” as he is with “x-ray” and “radiation.” In essence, Varian and Elekta are the “giants” in our industry…but how much do you really know about these companies whose names are ubiquitous with medical physics and whose products most of us use everyday? Read more

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Lack of HDR Training in Residency Program (For Physicians and Medical Physicists)

October 18, 2009 · Written by ·

If you graduate from a residency program that does not offer or use an HDR after-loader for patient treatments, what problems, if any, could you encounter at your first job? The answer is simple, if you are expected to treat patients with an HDR after-loader as part of your job responsibilities, you are not qualified to be listed as an Authorized User (AU) in the HDR material license, and hence you cannot independently treat patients with an HDR after-loader. That is, you are not legally able to fulfill this part of your job description. It’s a potentially embarrassing circumstance in addition to one that may inconvenience physician scheduling. Read more

Medical Event Criteria in Prostate Seed Implant / Prostate Brachytherapy

September 15, 2009 · Written by ·

Prostate brachytherapy implant is not going to be perfect all the time. The routine way to check the accuracy of an implant is to obtain a CT scan of the prostate after the implant, then run a post-treatment plan and compare it with the pre-treatment plan. Discrepancy in the delivered dose to the prostate (as well as to the surrounding organs) between the post and pre-plans could create a medical event or misadministration if one or both of the following NRC rules are not met: Read more

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Posted in: Misadministration · Tags: no tags

“Quality” Terms You Should Know As A Physicist

September 9, 2009 · Written by ·

At a recent staff meeting, I realized that there are certain “quality” terms that are thrown around often in our line of work. You know which words I’m talking about: quality assurance, quality control, quality improvement, etc…Although we hear and use them often, I would bet few people know their exact definitions. Knowing their precise definitions is important to avoid using them incorrectly in a meeting or during a conversation with the boss, colleague or administrative staff. Being able to use these terms correctly is imperative in demonstrating our depth and level of knowledge concerning the subject matter. Here are the terms and their definitions as supplied by Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology 48 (2003) 1-17: Read more

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Posted in: Miscellaneous · Tags: no tags

A Reader’s Question: Losing CAMPEP Accreditation?

September 7, 2009 · Written by ·

This past weekend, a reader sent in the following email. Since the question posed in the letter bears relevance to almost every graduate student studying medical physics, I am publishing the contents of the letter with my response (with the writer’s permission):

Have you ever heard of a school losing CAMPEP accreditation? I am concerned about an institution losing its accreditation, which would not be a very good thing, especially for those people who are intending to take the first part of the ABR exam next year and possibly find a job by June 2010…

Our response: The CAMPEP accreditation–like any other type of accreditation–is given only for a fixed period of time. After that period, the institution goes through a process of re-accreditation to demonstrate continued fulfillment of the standards and requirements set forth by CAMPEP. Read more

Posted in: Education / Training · Tags: no tags

Two Studies on the Effectiveness of Prostate Seed Implant over Prostatectomy

September 2, 2009 · Written by ·

blueribbonSeptember is National Prostate Cancer Awareness month, and what better timing for the release of two independent studies boosting the effectiveness of brachytherapy (radiation seed implants) as a modality for prostate cancer treatment. The two studies were done by The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago and The Taussig Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic. Is brachytherapy the best treatment for prostate cancer? That’s still up for debate. It is important to note that the studies were done in comparison to surgery (prostatectomy) and not to external beam radiation. In fact, the researchers at The Taussig Cancer Center said that brachytherapy was equally successful as external beam radiation for treatment of low-risk patients. Therefore, there is still no clear consensus on choosing brachytherapy over external beam radiation (i.e. IMRT technique) and vice-versa. However, considering brachytherapy and external beam radiation are equally successful techniques for early prostate cancer survival, as researchers in this study say, to me external beam radiation, such as IMRT, is more favorable. External beam IMRT technique is non-invasive–there is no pain, no incisions and no blood loss.

Read full articles on the two brachytherapy studies here and here.

Just as an aside, everyone knows that the pink ribbon is the symbol for breast cancer awareness, but did you know that the blue ribbon is the universal symbol of prostate cancer awareness?

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Posted in: Research · Tags: no tags

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

August 31, 2009 · Written by ·

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!

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Posted in: Board Certification · Tags: no tags

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

August 30, 2009 · Written by ·

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

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