The University of Washington Department of Radiation Oncology’s Medical Physics Residency Program is a two-year clinical education program in therapy physics. This program accepts two residents annually for a start date of July 1. The program currently has full accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Educational Programs (CAMPEP).
The program goal is to deliver the necessary clinical experience, education and training in radiation oncology physics to ensure 1) a graduating resident has broad knowledge of the clinical medical physics discipline and 2) mastery of a clinical skill set that allows them to function competently, independently and safely as a professional medical physicist. The program objectives are to graduate residents who are:
- Eligible and well-prepared to achieve American Board of Radiology (ABR) certification in therapeutic radiologic physics or its equivalent.
- Well-versed in the ethics, legal responsibilities, published standards of practice and collegial expectations related to the discipline of medical physics in a clinical environment.
- Competent to perform all basic clinical duties and responsibilities currently expected by the health care community of a professional medical physicist in support of patient radiation treatments.
- Confident in communicating, presenting and teaching their professional medical physics knowledge to peer clinical and scientific colleagues, students, other professional heath care providers or administrators, patients and laypersons in the community at large.
- Confident in their ability to problem solve, learn new skills, apply their knowledge in new and innovative ways and complete clinical development or research projects related to the medical physics discipline, including summarizing their findings for others.
Sites of Practice
The collaboration between UW Medicine, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Children’s and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance represents the largest and only NCI-designated cancer care center in the Pacific Northwest. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center pioneered bone marrow transplantation and continues to drive research into mechanisms of cancer development and treatment, with three faculty having been awarded Nobel prizes. We are ranked as the fifth hospital for cancer care by US News and World Report 2015-16, and we have the largest radiation oncology residency program in the Pacific Northwest.
The UW Department of Radiation Oncology has four linacs and a neutron therapy cyclotron. Access to gamma knife and proton therapy facilities are available at the partner institutions within our cancer care system. The UW and its partners offer a full spectrum of radiation oncology services including, but not limited to, conformal radiotherapy, IMRT, IGRT, SRS, SBRT, IORT, TBI, HDR and seed brachytherapy.
Residents will work primarily on the main UW campus in Seattle at the University of Washington Medical Center, but educational experiences at affiliate institutions will be part of training, as arranged. Residents will participate in clinical medical physics activities, such as equipment commissioning, acceptance testing, regular QA and annual evaluations, radiation shielding design, equipment specification, dosimetry for new treatment techniques and current patient-related procedures. Training and experience in radiation therapy planning, adherence to state and federal radiation regulations, and troubleshooting treatment problems will be provided.
Patient contact is required for consults to physicians about patient treatment and dose measurements. The program will offer the resident training opportunities with a diverse set of equipment and treatment modalities. Residents are required to work on a clinical development project with a radiation oncology faculty member and there is an expectation of at least one journal manuscript submission prior to the end of their residency period. Residents receive full health and dental benefits.
Residents spend most of their time at UWMC, which is adjacent to the UW main campus and rotate to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance at South Lake Union three miles away, UW Medicine Harborview Medical Center in downtown Seattle and at the SCCA Proton Therapy on UW Medicine Northwest Hospital & Medical Center campus located in north Seattle.
UW School of Medicine
The University of Washington is also a Tier 1 research university that attracts more research grant funding than any other public university in the nation. In fact, it was ranked No. 2 among all medical schools, both public and private, in receipt of research grant funding from the National Institutes of Health. UW is the largest university in the State of Washington. In 2012, on the Seattle campus alone, UW employed 3,752 instructional faculty to serve 27,838 undergraduate students and 13,308 graduate student and professional students.
UW School of Medicine, serves as the only medical school under agreement among the five states region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) known as the WWAMI region.
The department of radiation oncology is part of the UW School of Medicine, and part of its overall institutionally distributed oncology program. UWMC is a comprehensive medical center with a full range of medical services for both inpatients and outpatients.
The Medical Physics Residency Program is governed by a program director supported by an associate director, program steering committee and an advisory board. The two-year clinical experience for residents is divided into several clinical rotations of one month or more that are designed to provide clinical training and education to achieve medical physics task competence and imbue confidence in the resident to tackle and solve clinical problems. Major areas of clinical competence developed in the rotations include treatment planning, external beam treatment units, brachytherapy, imaging guidance and simulation, safety, informatics, special procedures and intense site specific sessions with medical faculty and residents. Additionally there is a two-month rotation devoted to a major clinical development project.
A mentor is assigned to each resident for each rotation. After a one month introductory rotation, the resident is exposed to the commissioning of new technologies and programs for patient treatment and also provided opportunities to educate appropriately others involved in the radiation oncology workflow process. Resident performance on each rotation is mentored by a faculty member. The faculty mentor is required to formally meet with the resident at least weekly, and usually much more, to educate and deal with any questions the resident may have. Occasionally the mentor may make adjustments to a resident’s schedule to suit any significant change in clinical demands or opportunities for resident education that may be unexpected and time-limited. After appropriate training, residents routinely cover the clinic as a physicist of the day (POD) responding to calls for assistance. They also routinely perform patient specific treatment measurements and planning of treatments. There is always a faculty physicist supporting the resident as necessary for these routine tasks. Evening work and occasional weekend work is required of the resident to fulfill these routine duties.
Resident Didactic Education
Residents are required to attend lectures, seminars, faculty presentations, grand round, chart rounds, special case sessions, journal clubs, and hands-on vendor provided training sessions.
Clinical Development and Research
The department has many active research programs and opportunities for clinical development work. Residents work with faculty on a major clinical development project with the expectation that results of their work is published in the scientific literature. A resident’s major clinical development project is expected to extend over the two-year period of the residency program with low level effort. However, two months of dedicated time on this project is provided. Residents are especially encouraged to present their own clinical development results to the rest of the faculty and staff for constructive criticism and feedback. They are also encouraged to present and attend national and international scientific conferences and symposia related to radiation oncology and medical physics.