Hoping To Pursue A Career In Clinical Medical Physics? Here’s what you need to know:
Presently, clinical medical physics is not a regulated profession, however most employers DO require certification as a condition of employment or as a condition of promotion (i.e. monetary incentive).Recently the US government has stepped up its regulations on patient care and as such new clinical physicists will soon be required to be certified. This move is being closely followed in Canada as well.
The body which certifies Clinical Medical Physicist is in Canada, the Canadian College of Physicists in Medicine (CCPM) , and is in the US, the American Board of Radiology (ABR) .Both the CCPM and ABR are widely recognized in Canada and the United States.Functional since 1979, the CCPM has a focused mandate to protect the public.CCPM and ABR are examining and certifying boards only.The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs (CAMPEP) reviews and accredits medical physics educational programs (MSc, PhD, and residency) to ensure a standardized curriculum .
Current ABR Regulations:
Candidates taking the ABR Examination Part 1 (2 exams) require that:
- “You hold a bachelor's degree in physics or applied physics from an approved institution (accredited by a regional accrediting body). Other physical science or engineering degrees may be considered if the appropriate fundamental physics courses have been completed equivalent to a minor in physics (including general physics with calculus and upper level courses in, for example, electricity and magnetism, atomic physics, nuclear physics, modern physics, quantum mechanics, or mechanics).” 
- “You hold a master's or doctoral degree from an approved institution (accredited by a regional accrediting body) in medical physics, radiologic physics, physics, or other relevant physical science or engineering discipline. If the ABR determines that the degree or documented training is not directly relevant to the practice of medical physics, the ABR may request that the candidate document a minimum of three graduate courses in medical physics (these might include, for example, a course in general medical physics, a course in radiation dose measurements, and one from the chosen medical physics specialty).” 
ABR Examination Part 2 (3 exams - choice of one, two, or three for different specialties) requires that:
- “You must have had at least three years (36 months) of full-time equivalent clinical experience in active association with an approved department, division, or practice in the area(s) in which certification is sought under the supervision of a certified medical physicist. This requirement must be satisfied by June 30 of the year in which the Part 2 exam is to be taken.” 
- “You have completed a CAMPEP accredited medical physics residency consisting of at least 24 months of clinical training under the supervision of a certified medical physicist at the time of taking the Part 2 examination.” 
ABR Examination Part 3 (one oral examination in each of the specialization areas in which you wish to be certified) requires that:
- You have passed all of Part 1 and your chosen exam(s) in Part 2.
Current CCPM Regulations:
The CCPM examination process requires only 2 years of clinical experience for eligibility. Please see reference link  for further information.
- “Beginning in 2012, candidates taking the ABR Part 1 examination in Radiological Physics for the first time must be enrolled in or have graduated from a CAMPEP-accredited educational program (e.g. MSc, PhD, or residency).”  (Meaning that the application must have been submitted by 2011.)
- “Beginning in 2014, candidates taking the ABR Part 1 examination for the first time must complete a CAMPEP-accredited residency program before they will be eligible to take ABR Part 2.” 
- “As of 1 January 2016, all applicants for certification in the Radiation Oncology Physics subspecialty must have graduated from either a graduate program or a residency program which is accredited by CAMPEP.” 
Residency Entrance requirements
An information session was held September 8, 2010 by the Dr Jean-Pierre Bissonnette, head of the University of Toronto Medical Physics Residency program to clarify some of these points.The entrance requirements into CAMPEP residency programs were addressed at this time as well.
- Currently, “the minimum requirement [for entry into the University of Toronto CAMPEP-accredited residency program] is a M.Sc. (thesis-based) in medical physics or a Ph.D. in physics, biology, computer science, engineering or mathematics.” 
- With new regulations however, Dr. Bissonnette indicated that the CAMPEP-accredited residency program may be forced to only allow candidates with a graduate degree from a CAMPEP-accredited graduate program. (Since non-CAMPEP students currently have to take additional courses to catch up, the new regulation would allow more focus to be placed on clinical experience than remedial coursework.)
The major point to note here is that Graduate degree candidates in the Medical Biophysics program at the University of Toronto might NOT qualify for entry into the CAMPEP-accredited University of Toronto Residency Program in Radiation Oncology Physics since the Graduate Program is currently NOT CAMPEP-accredited.However, if the graduate program becomes accredited before a student’s completion then they will meet the correct criteria.
What you can do:
- Apply and write Part 1 of the ABR examination before the deadline to be “grandfathered” into the system. You must complete your application no later than September 30, 2010.
- If your graduate program is not CAMPEP-accredited (like the University of Toronto), petition your program director and discuss the possibility of your program becoming CAMPEP accredited.
- Enroll in a CAMPEP accredited program (MSc, PhD, and/or residency)
References and Informative Links
List of CAMPEP accredited programs in North America:
Residency programs: http://www.campep.org/campeplstres.asp
Please note:While I have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this information, I do not guarantee it.Communications should be made with the ABR, or CCPM for definitive statements of eligibility requirements.