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Is the MS Degree Still a Viable Option for Clinical Medical Physics Education and Training?

B Loughery

B Loughery*, J Burmeister , Wayne State University School of Medicine / Karmanos Cancer Center, Detroit, MI


TU-D-201-9 (Tuesday, August 2, 2016) 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM Room: 201

Purpose: Recent publications have questioned the value of the MS degree and its future in medical physics education. This study investigates the residency placement rate (RPR) for CAMPEP-accredited MS programs as a metric to evaluate this degree as judged by residency programs.

Methods: By CAMPEP Standard 2.10, accredited graduate programs must present placement data on their program webpage and update it annually. We used these data to calculate the RPR of 43 programs into CAMPEP-accredited residency programs over a five year period (2010-2014). We further analyzed these rates by length of accreditation and degree program, when available. These placement data were validated against annual CAMPEP reports.

Results: The cumulative RPR for MS graduates over the past five years is 22.4%. For individual programs, high placement was correlated with accreditation duration. Six graduate programs have never placed a resident – all were accredited after 2010. Of the 43 programs examined, only 4 have placed >40% of their graduates into residencies while placing at least 3 residents per year. These programs account for 39% of all MS residents placed, have a combined 51% placement for their MS graduates, and place MS graduates at rates significantly higher than the RPR for PhD graduates (36.2%). The RPR of the remaining 37 MS programs is 16%.

Conclusion: The MS degree remains a viable option for clinical medical physics education and training, at least at several very successful programs. Thus, contrary to the perception among many entrants to medical physics education, one doesn’t need a PhD to obtain a residency. However, prospective students are encouraged to carefully evaluate individual program statistics prior to entry. Moving forward, the profession should evaluate the relative success of MS medical physicists in both residency and clinical practice to determine whether to eliminate or cultivate this aspect of our educational infrastructure.

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