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Session: Innovation in Medical Physics Education [Return to Session]

Career Preparation for Graduate Students: Preliminary Evaluation of An Introductory Course On the Profession of Medical Physics

S Leon*, B Schwarz, L Rill, M Arreola, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL


MO-AB-TRACK 7-2 (Monday, 7/26/2021) 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM [Eastern Time (GMT-4)]

Purpose: Medical physics graduate students often receive an excellent education in academic topics but lack knowledge of what to expect after graduate studies. Students may be unfamiliar with career options available to them; the role of regulatory, accreditation, and certifying bodies; the residency application process; ethical and professional behavior; medical errors; and the role of professional societies. A one-credit course was created to address these topics.

Methods: A new graduate course, featuring didactic lectures and practical, interactive assignments, was developed to address medical physics career awareness. Students learned about different subspecialties and work environments by holding and presenting interviews with practicing medical physicists across the country; they prepared for residency by writing a CV, personal statement, and participating in mock residency interviews with various program faculty; they engaged in small group discussions to debate real-world ethical issues; they performed a root-cause analysis; and they planned their own “career path”. Improvement in student career awareness and preparation was assessed by course evaluations and pre- and post-class surveys.

Results: The course has been offered for two years and taken by 20 students. Course evaluations were completed by 15 students, with the educational value of the course rated as 4.3/5 (3.71 in year one, 4.75 in year two). In the second year, a pre-class and post-class survey was instituted to gauge the impact of the course on individual topics. Students reported increased awareness of career options, regulatory agencies, board certification, ethical and professional behavior, and professional societies. They reported a particularly strong increase in feeling prepared for the residency application process, with an initial score of 4.2/10 and a final score of 8.3/10.

Conclusion: Medical physics students can benefit from a one-credit course dedicated to career preparation. Comments by students in course evaluations were overwhelmingly positive.



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