The Diagnostic Imaging Physics Residency Program is a two or three-year clinical training program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for medical physicists who intend to work in diagnostic imaging physics. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Program (CAMPEP).
Time in residence in this program may be applied toward the experience required to qualify for examination by the American Board of Radiology (ABR), the American Board of Medical Physics (ABMP), or the American Board of Science in Nuclear Medicine (ABSNM).
The majority of the Imaging Physics Residency Program Faculty are located at MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Department of Imaging Physics, with some program faculty located at other hospitals in the prestigious Texas Medical Center.
All of our faculty hold national board certification from the American Board of Radiology, the American Board of Medical Physics, the American Board of Nuclear Medicine, or a combination of these certifications.
Our Imaging Physics Residency Program is unique in that, in addition to the core clinical training in radiography, fluoroscopy, angiography, mammography, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, and imaging informatics, it also provides clinical training in nuclear medicine and PET. It is possible for a Resident to emphasize nuclear medicine and PET imaging in their second year of training.
Our program also offers the Hybrid Pathway, a combined clinical residency/postdoctoral research fellowship program. A Medical Physics Fellow completes clinical residency training while simultaneously pursuing biomedical imaging researches mentored by a faculty member over a period of three years. This fellowship is open to highly qualified applicants who want to continue a research career without compromising clinical training.
Our program was the first one in North America to offer a CAMPEP-accredited Imaging Physics Residency Program in 2000.
The objective of the Imaging Physics Residency Program is to provide structured clinical training in imaging physics to individuals wishing to practice medical physics as a profession. Residents, under the supervision of board-certified medical physicists, will participate in the routine clinical duties of a medical imaging physicist, perform a clinical research project, submit the results of this project to a peer-reviewed journal, and participate in the education of other trainees.
At the conclusion of the program, the Resident will be expected to demonstrate competence in each area by passing an oral exam modeled closely after the national board certification examinations. Residents will gain experience with the full range of state-of-the-art medical imaging equipment.
During the program, the resident will participate in clinical duties including the following:
- evaluation of medical imaging equipment performance
- development of quality control procedures
- estimation of patient radiation dose
- protocol design
- investigation of abnormal radiation exposures
- consultation regarding technical aspects of equipment purchase
- evaluation of image quality and artifacts
- planning for equipment purchase
- in-service instruction on radiation safety and imaging physics
- clinical investigations in medical imaging physics
- facility site planning, shielding design, inspection, and verification
Residents attend seminars, colloquia, Grand Rounds, institutional core curriculum lectures, and other educational opportunities, particularly those directly related to their area of specialization, as determined to be appropriate by the Program Director and Clinical Coordinators.
In parallel with remedial didactic course work, the first year resident will work closely with staff physicists involved in clinical activities within Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine. The Resident's performance will be evaluated in an ongoing manner by the Director and the three Clinical Coordinators and on at least an annual basis by oral examination. Evaluations of the Resident’s performance will be made by the clinical supervisor during each period. These evaluations will become part of the Resident's file. Additional reading assignments may be given to strengthen theoretical understanding of various clinical procedures. The Resident will document his or her participation in these activities through an online system and through weekly reports to the Clinical Coordinators and Program Director.
The program generally commences at the beginning of an academic semester. Residents participate in the GSBS Introductory Diagnostic Imaging Rotation course as an introduction to the Residency Program. This serves as a review of basic imaging principles and clinical applications, as well as to familiarize residents with the inventory and operation of clinical imaging equipment at MD Anderson. The following broad areas will be covered during the Residency Program.
X-ray equipment performance evaluation, acceptance testing and quality control: Performance evaluation of X-ray generators/sources including collimation assessment, focal spot assessment, beam filtration, radiation output, output linearity and reproducibility, technical factor calibration assessment, automatic exposure control and automatic brightness stabilization evaluation (reproducibility, kVp and thickness tracking, density adjustment settings, mechanical and electrical safety.)
Image receptor review: Grid uniformity, system speed consistency, system image quality (contrast, resolution, noise, artifacts), receptor alignment, receptor input exposure rate determination.
Development and monitoring of quality control programs: Processor QC tests, darkroom facility assessment, film-screen contact, , mammographic compression, reading room viewing conditions, repeat/reject analysis, lead apron integrity, and mammographic phantom image evaluation, S/N ratio, uniformity and artifacts.
Radiation safety surveys: Evaluation of tube head leakage, workload determination, equipment radiation safety features, assessment of auxiliary shielding (e.g., drapes, aprons, and transparent shields), broad beam transmission measurements, personnel monitoring report interpretation, interpretation of regulations.
Patient dose monitoring: In-air measurements of exposure and exposure rates from X-ray equipment and measurements with phantoms using ionization chambers, patient dose measurement using film and other dosimetry devices, calculation of skin entrance dose, internal organ dose, effective dose equivalent, risk estimation, evaluation of potential for deterministic effects, calibration and quality assurance of dosimeters and automated dosimetry systems.
Mammography: Image quality, dose, and system performance evaluations as required by the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA), American College of Radiology (ACR), and the Texas Board of Radiological Health.
Computed tomography: Detector/data channel configurations, image thickness, , helical slice sensitivity profiles (SSPs), high-contrast resolution, low-contrast resolution CT number linearity, image noise and artifacts, reconstruction options, radiation profiles, dose measurements, dose modulation, patient dose calculations, fetal dose estimates, shielding design, monitor luminance measurement, ACR accreditation program.
MRI equipment performance evaluation: Radiofrequency shielding tests, magnetic field homogeneity assessment, signal stability assessment, geometric accuracy, assessment of slice position, slice thickness and spacing, signal-to-noise ratio measurements, RF coil performance tests, image uniformity assessment, high-contrast resolution and low contrast detectability assessment, testing of high performance imaging and spectroscopy modes, ACR MR Accreditation Program, phantom testing and analysis, MRI safety, image artifacts, protocol and imaging option reviews.
Nuclear medicine/PET: Daily quality control, scanner calibration, image formation, data processing, mage quality, quantitative planar imaging, quantitative PET and SPECT, radionuclide dosimetry and radionuclide therapy treatment planning, non-imaging instrumentation, radiopharmacy operations, site planning and shielding design, installation and acceptance testing of nuclear medicine cameras, radiation exposure of patients, personnel and members of the general public. ACR NM and PET accreditation program phantom testing and analysis, radiation safety, image artifact, troubleshooting as well as physician interpretation.
Ultrasound equipment performance evaluation: Uniformity, depth of penetration, caliper accuracy, axial and lateral spatial resolution, anechoic object assessment, dead zone measurement, artifact assessment, assessment of system mechanical integrity.
Imaging informatics: Configuration and troubleshooting of imaging equipment for connectivity with Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS), Radiology Information System (RIS), image processing workstations, image review stations, and other network destinations; informatics standards including DICOM 3.0, Health Level 7 (HL7) and Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE).
Electronic displays: Measurement and assessment of electronic display performance including conformance to DICOM Part 14 Grayscale Display Function (GSDF), AAPM Task Group 18 periodic measurements and acceptance testing for displays for primary interpretation and for clinical review.
Additional experiences: Involvement in discussion of equipment purchase, design of quality control and radiation safety programs, X-ray room shielding design, verification and radiation safety surveys, consultation regarding radiation safety, patient doses and image quality improvement.
Continuing education experiences: First-year residents have the opportunity to participate in short courses offered by the Department of Imaging Physics. These short courses include topics in Multislice CT, MRI, and PET imaging. Residents who attend the AAPM Annual Meeting are also required to enroll in the Diagnostic Review Course. Residents also attended seminars in the Department of Imaging Physics and are invited to attend the Faculty Mentoring program when they provide continuing education intended for diagnostic medical physicists who are participating in the ABR Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Program.
During the second year of the program, Residents are involved in the same types of experiences as in the first year, but are expected to work more independently The Resident takes responsibility for equipment performance evaluations and patient dose calculations under the supervision of appropriately qualified medical physicists. As required by state law, overall responsibility for the medical physics service will always remain with a licensed, board-certified medical physicist. Residents continue to attend the seminars described above.
Mentoring program: Second-year Residents are expected to mentor first-year Residents. This program is informal: specific assignments are not made by faculty. Past Residents have organized study groups for board examinations and rehearsals for oral presentations.
Education experiences: Second-year Residents are involved in proctoring laboratories for medical physics graduate students, and supervision of graduate students and first-year Residents taking the Introductory Diagnostic Imaging Rotation course. They also support laboratory exercises in conjunction with continuing education short courses offered by the Department of Imaging Physics.
Research experiences: Each Resident is required to select a research mentor and conduct a clinical research project, culminating in a publication submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. The Resident must be the primary author and the research mentor must agree to co-author the manuscript. Residents may participate in other clinical research projects. All clinical research participation by Residents is reviewed and approved by the Program Director.
Practice oral exam: Each spring Residents participate in a practice oral exam patterned after the American Board of Radiology (ABR) oral examination in Diagnostic Medical Physics. All examiners are certified by the ABR in Diagnostic Medical Physics and/or by the ABMP in Magnetic Resonance Imaging Physics. Other examinees include MD Anderson junior faculty and others preparing for their national boards.
Oral presentations: Each Resident presents at least one 20-minute lecture to the Imaging Physics faculty, during the Medical Physics Trainee Summer Seminar Series. Depending on the timing of the Resident’s entry into the program, this lecture may occur during the first and/or second year of training. Other lectures may be presented as part of the Joint Nuclear Medicine/CT Practice Seminars, and/or at a local, regional, or national scientific meeting.
External rotations: At the end of the second year of their training program, each Resident participates in external rotations designed to broaden their perspective on the clinical practice of medical physics. The external rotations include Cardiac Imaging at Texas Heart Institute in St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, Pediatric Imaging at Texas Children’s Hospital, and Emergency Radiology and Community Medicine at either or both Ben Taub Hospital and The Michael E. DeBakey Veteran’s Affairs Hospital.
Additional clinical training experiences: Second-year Residents may also have an opportunity for supervised clinical medical physics training at one of MD Anderson’s external clinical operations. This includes locations in the Houston Metropolitan area and one site in Phoenix, Arizona. Residents at these locations will be directly supervised by program faculty who are appropriately licensed and registered medical physicists.
Optional specialization in Nuclear Medicine (NM) physics is provided for Residents that express interest in this area of specialization. In this case, Residents must declare their interest by the end of their first year of residency. The second year is then subsequently adjusted to emphasize the NM and PET rotations of the residency program. This will be achieved by increasing the duration of the second year rotations of NM and PET from 1 to 3 months each. This increase results in a total of 8 months of NM/PET training over the two year residency program (33%) as compared to 4 months (17%) for those not interested in a NM specialization.
The additional months of NM/PET training will be dedicated for in depth experience in the physics of NM/PET scanner fundamentals; image acquisition, reconstruction and post-processing/analysis; radiopharmaceutical biodistribution and dosimetry; radioactive patient release; radionuclide therapy and treatment planning; and NM/PET facility shielding.
In addition, Residents interested in NM specialization must conduct their independent research in an area focused on NM/PET and have an NM board certified faculty member as their research mentor.
All other training requirements for the residency program will remain the same for residents interested in this specialization.
Combined Postdoctoral Research & Residency Training in Imaging Physics
A novel new training opportunity has been created for an outstanding young medical physics graduate to pursue both residency training and research in the Department of Imaging Physics at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Over a 3-4 year period, the successful candidate will spend up to 2 years of full-time research in a mutually agreed upon area of biomedical imaging and complete 2 years of full-time CAMPEP-accredited residency training to meet the clinical experience requirements of the American Board of Radiology for national board certification.
A Ph.D. or equivalent degree from a CAMPEP-accredited graduate program is required. We are looking for highly motivated young scientists that aspire to be among the best of the next generation of academic medical physicists working in the area of medical imaging. The successful candidate will be appointed as a Medical Physics Fellow to recognize the outstanding nature of the individuals and the educational program.
Priority for access to physical resources, including access to imaging and computational systems, and other development support will be provided including travel to scientific meetings and training opportunities. The successful candidate will be matched with a senior medical physicist mentor with a mutual research interest.
How do I apply to the Imaging Physics Residency Program at MD Anderson?
To apply for the residency position please use the Common Application Process (CAP) administered through the AAPM.
Does our program accept both M.S. and Ph.D. applicants?
The preferred applicant to our program comes from a CAMPEP accredited Medical Physics Program. Both M.S. and Ph.D. applicants are encouraged to apply.
How many residents are accepted each year?
In general, typically two residents per year are accepted into the program. Start dates are usually two weeks prior to start of an academic semester at The University of Texas Health Science Center Graduate School of Biomedical Science.
What are the differences in the application process for domestic and for international applicants?
Currently our program does not sponsor visas. Applicants who apply must be able to establish employment eligibility for the entire length of the training program.
What factors are considered for admission?
- Academic background and performance
- Honors and awards for academic achievement
- Performance in graduate courses
- Current letters of recommendation
- Statement of purpose
- Expressed commitment to a career involving clinical medical physics
Are applicants invited to interview/visit the program?
Our program requires an interview/on-site visit before offers of admission are extended to the top applicants. The purpose of the visit will be to interview with program faculty, provide a 45 minute seminar, meet with current residents in the program, and tour our clinical facilities.
What about letters of recommendation?
The applicant should arrange to have the recommendations submitted through the application system by at least three persons who are well qualified to evaluate the applicant’s scholastic performance, scientific ability, motivation, and personal attributes such as character and personality. If the applicant is currently enrolled in a graduate degree program, one of these recommendations must be from the applicant’s academic advisor or mentor. Letters of recommendation must use institutional letterhead and be signed by the person writing the recommendation letter.
How successful are your residents in finding employment?
To date, residents who have successfully completed our program have had employment offers to consider before completing.
What if I use tobacco products?
Residents will receive a pay check from MD Anderson and are subject to its policies, including one starting in calendar year 2015 that forbids the hiring of tobacco users by the institution. Learn more about MD Anderson's tobacco-free hiring process.