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Indiana University Bloomington

Applications of Physics: Medical Physics

Medical Physics is the application of the concepts and methods of physics to the diagnosis and treatment of human disease. Medical Physicists generally work in one of four fields: radiation therapy physics, diagnostic imaging, nuclear medicine, or health physics. Radiation therapy physicists are primarily occupied with patient treatment. Some medical physicists work in industry specializing in computational physics or device development. Imaging physicists often free lance, performing quality assurance for diagnostic radiology equipment; they develop new imaging protocols or develop new software for combining imaging techniques to better understand structure and function in specific disease. Medical physicists work in industry as consultants, developers, installation technicians and sales associates. Physicists in nuclear medicine work directly with patients or are involved in the production of isotopes and the development of new production methodologies. Health physicists are concerned with regulatory record keeping, governmental and public sector defense, the nuclear power industry, and device development, particularly low dose detection and radiation imaging.

For more information:

Recommended Medical Physics electives

A 215 Basic Human Anatomy*
P 215 Basic Human Physiology*
P 314 Introduction to Medical Physics*
P 371 Radiation Science Fundamentals
P 451 Experiments in Modern Physics
A 480 Human Anatomy for Medical Imaging Evaluation*
P 478 Radiation Biology
P 472 Radiation Oncology Physics
P 410 Computing Applications in Physics
M 480 Molecular Biology of Cancer*
S 320 Introduction to Statistics
P 421 (PHSL) Biophysical Principles in Physiology
V 407 Introduction to Retinal Imaging

*These 5 courses will satisfy all requirements for a Minor in Medical Sciences.

Career opportunities

With a BS in Physics with a concentration in medical physics

  • Sales associate (e.g. Siemens, GE, Varian, Sun Nuclear, IBA, Fluke, Accel, etc.)
  • Technician (research, industry or clinical)
  • Medical physics assistant
  • Dosimetrist (may require certification)

For useful career information, see the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Accelerated Program

In addition to the traditional post baccalaureate master’s degree program, the Department of Physics at IU Bloomington offers an accelerated degree option through the Applied Physics track. Students can satisfy the requirements for their BS in Applied Physics by selecting courses required for the MS in Medical Physics. This allows students to complete many of the graduate-level requirements in their third or fourth year of study. Students selecting this option can apply for admission into the graduate program during their third year and, if accepted, complete the master’s degree in as little as one additional year post baccalaureate.