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Medical physics is one of the graduate-level applied science branches of physics. Medical physicists practice in one of three subspecialties:
- Therapeutic medical physics
- Diagnostic medical physics
- Nuclear medical physics
Medical physicists are responsible for the acceptance, commissioning and ongoing quality assurance measurements of medical radiation and the devices that make or deploy it. They also routinely participate in additional functions, such as radiation safety, product development, research and education.
Upon completion of the Medical Physics Residency, the graduate is both prepared to work in the field of therapeutic medical physics and eligible to become board certified by the American Board of Radiology.
Current growth or replacement demand for therapeutic medical physicists is estimated to be between 200 and 300 people annually, especially with the aging of the baby boomer portion of the population.
Many institutions will not hire new graduates directly, so a residency is a perfect opportunity to bridge this gap. It's also common practice for organizations to hire only medical physicists who are board certified or eligible to become board certified. Beginning in 2014, completion of a residency will be required for people wishing to sit for board certification in medical physics.
The earnings potential for a medical physicist begins at or near a six-figure annual income based on the American Association of Physicists in Medicine annual salary survey. Salaries in this field have outpaced inflation during the past two decades.