Pursuing a clinical career may not be the professional goal of every medical physics student. Additionally, due to the disparity between the number of graduates and the available number of residency positions, it is currently not an option for all graduating medical physics students. Fortunately, there is a wide range of careers outside of the clinic. Many graduate programs have emphasized clinical careers, however efforts are being made by the AAPM (e.g., the Working Group on Medical Physics Graduate Education Program Curriculum) and program directors to further the development of non-clinical career education. A survey distributed by the AAPM to graduate program directors showed that programs were offering students a variety of activities to help prepare them for non-clinical careers including: performing research projects similar to a company’s R&D division; providing professional development series, career panels, career days, grantsmanship development, internships, business classes, training in radiation protection, internship alternatives to clinical rotations, student presentations, close partnerships with industry and other non-clinical career personnel, non-clinical career seminar series; and offering a non-ABR compliant coursework track . Some of these graduate programs were affiliated with non-medical physics departments such as nuclear engineering or biomedical engineering, thereby exposing students to a wider array of coursework, research, and opportunities.
Several graduate program directors identified the need for career counseling for students, but were unsure how to implement these programs. The AAPM and the Society of Directors of Academic Medical Physics Programs (SDAMPP) have been tasked with providing best practices for informing students about and preparing students for non-clinical careers. This series of blog posts was intended to introduce non-clinical career opportunities for medical physics graduates with the purpose of increasing awareness and initiating further discussion and documentation in this area.
The Working Group to Promote Non-Clinical Careers in Medical Physics (WGNCMP) is a working group under the Students and Trainee Subcommittee (STSC) of the AAPM. At the annual meeting, the STSC hosts a number of clinical, non-clinical, and general medical physics events targeting students and trainees including the Annual Student Meeting, Residency Fair, Career Expo, Student Night Out, Interview Workshop, and more. At the 2015 AAPM Annual Meeting, WGNCMP presented a poster about the Assessment of Medical Physics Students and Trainees Interest and Awareness of Non-Clinical Careers. The poster is still available for viewing at this link:
At the 2016 Annual Meeting, the WGNCMP hosted a career networking lunch in collaboration with WGSTR. For more information, visit our AAPM page (http://www.aapm.org/students/). The STSC is happy to address any questions and concerns and may be contacted through their AAPM website (http://www.aapm.org/org/structure/default.asp?committee_code=SPASC).
The Working Group on Student and Trainee Research (WGSTR) is a student-led working group promoting the development of young scientists with a keen interest in research. The objective of this working group is to initiate or promote activities aimed at enhancing and broadening pre-doctoral research. The working group will act as a platform to connect students and trainees that share interest in research-related topics in medical physics in order to gather feedback concerning research-oriented education. WGSTR also hosts events at the annual meeting including a student research luncheon, undergraduate Society of Physics (SPS) poster session, and symposia. For more information visit the WGSTR website:
 Tanny, S., Roth, A., Peeler, C., Rodrigues, A., and Ready, J. SU-E-E-04: Assessment of Medical Physics Students and Trainees Interest and Awareness of Non-Clinical Careers. American Association of Physicists in Medicine (2015), DOI: 10.1118/1.4923926. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4m2DyLfzC1EQm5GRGx4TTE4czQ/view.