Training Requirements

Resident Responsibilities

Clinical Rotations

Each resident is assigned to a clinical medical physics staff member to perform clinical tasks under his/her supervision. The WKCC clinical structure consists of six clinical rotations. Medical physics residents will be assigned to a medical physics staff member on a weekly basis for these rotations.

This first rotation cycle is designed to introduce the resident to the clinical duties for each rotation. In the first four-month rotation through the clinical assignments, the resident observes and assists the clinical medical physicist performing the duties of that rotation. During this time they are expected to learn all clinical medical physics responsibilities for each rotation and document all clinical procedures. All duties will be approved by the supervising clinical medical physicist.

Once the staff physicist has determined that sufficient knowledge of a clinical rotation has been achieved, the resident is credentialed by WKCC to independently perform clinical medical physics assignments that do not require board certification and is moved into the clinical rotation independently. Resident credentialing will be approved by the Program Director and Chief of Clinical Physics.

In the second year of the residency, the resident is assigned to regular clinical duties within the Department of Physics. The resident independently performs those clinical duties for which they are credentialed. All duties that the resident is not allowed to independently perform (e.g., HDR treatment deliveries) continue to be done under the supervision of a clinical medical physicist. In these cases, appropriate documentation will continue to be approved by both the resident and supervising medical physicist.

Independent Projects 

In parallel with the clinical assignments, the resident is assigned projects that cover topics not encountered in daily clinic duties (e.g., linac acceptance and commissioning, treatment planning system commissioning and beam modeling, etc.). These are designed to be major projects that require longer periods to complete (i.e., 1-2 months). These projects have specific goals and end points. They also require the resident to read and become familiar with appropriate materials (e.g., AAPM Task Group reports, journal articles, etc.) related to the topic of the project. These projects are designed to be completed outside of assigned clinical duties.

The resident is assigned to a mentor for the duration of each project. At the beginning of each project, the mentor provides the resident a written project description with the expected goals and objectives for the project. This description also includes a list of topical references which the resident is expected to read and understand. The mentor provides initial instruction related to the performance of the project (e.g., operation of equipment). The resident is expected to independently perform all tasks required to complete the project. Throughout the duration of the project, the mentor is available for questions and additional instruction or information as needed.

Upon completion of the project, the resident submits a written report documenting all tasks completed as required by the project mentor. The report includes appropriate documents and data specific to the project. Reports are expected to be of a quality appropriate for submission as a clinical release report at WKCC.

Additional Duties 

In addition to the clinical rotations and independent projects, the resident participates in any clinically-relevant major projects that may arise that are not specifically covered in the clinical and project assignments. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Acceptance testing and commissioning of new equipment
  • Testing and implementation of new treatment techniques
  • Implementation of new equipment and procedures
  • Clinically-related development projects
  • Evaluation of potentially new clinical technologies

Resident involvement in these additional projects will not detract from the clinical assignment and independent project requirements described above.

Second-year residents are involved in the training of first-year residents as allowed by clinical and project schedules. This role is intended to develop the resident supervisory skills within a clinical setting. The second-year resident does not formally oversee clinical duties assigned to the first-year resident, but assists in development of skills necessary for completion of projects assigned to the first-year resident (e.g., set-up and operation of scanning systems, operation of linear accelerators, IMRT QA, etc.).

Typical Two-Year Rotation for WKCC Site

Resident Evaluation 

Residents are expected to pass regular oral exams as part of their performance evaluation. Each resident is examined over a 2.5 hour period every four months. In addition to the oral exams, monthly feedback from the project and rotation mentors is used to determine satisfactory performance by the residents.

Tracking of resident time, tasks, clinical experiences, completed competencies, reports, and most evaluations is performed using the web-based Allied Health Student Tracking (AHST) software from Typhon Group (Metairie, LA). The Program Director or his designee is responsible for managing the software, including updating the curriculum as needed. Residents are able to access the system and enter information on their Program training requirements (completion of assigned competencies, attendance of required meetings, attended lectures, etc.). Program faculty have access to this data as well as many reporting tools to analyze and approve entries. An evaluation survey has been created for residents to evaluate the assigned faculty member for each month of clinical rotation or for each assigned project. Additionally, an evaluation survey has been created to allow faculty members to evaluate resident performance for each clinical rotation or project that the faculty member supervises.

Failure to consistently perform at a satisfactory level in the clinical rotations or projects may result in dismissal from the Program and termination of employment. 

At the end of the resident’s first year of training, the resident’s competency is evaluated for the possibility of independent clinical work without mentor oversight. The level of competency is based on the results of an examination occurring at the end of the first year. Satisfactory competency for independent work is determined by the Program Committee and must be approved by the Chief of Clinical Physics. Upon approval for independent work, the resident is credentialed to operate as a staff clinical medical physicist for all duties which a non-board certified medical physicist is able to perform. During this second year of independent clinical operation, the resident continues to perform independent project assignments on additional topics. The resident also continues to undergo regular oral examinations to monitor mastery of clinical topics.

Requirements for Program Completion

In order to satisfactorily complete the residency program, the resident must:

  1. If necessary, successfully complete any outstanding didactic coursework consistent with the AAPM report “The Essential Medical Physics Didactic Elements for Physicists Entering the Profession through an Alternative Pathway.” This coursework should encompass the following graduate-level core topics:
    • Radiological Physics and Dosimetry
    • Radiation Protection and Radiation Safety
    • Fundamentals of Imaging in Medicine
    • Radiobiology
    • Anatomy and Physiology
    • Radiation Therapy Physics
  2. Successfully complete all clinical rotations within the Department of Physics. Each resident will be assigned to a staff clinical medical physicist who will serve in a supervisory role for that clinical rotation.
  3. Successfully complete all independent projects which are assigned to cover major clinical medical physics topics not encountered on a routine basis (e.g., linac acceptance and commissioning, treatment planning system commissioning, etc.).
  4. Attend various departmental meetings, conferences, and seminars that are relevant to the resident’s training. The resident shall have an attendance rate of no less than 75% for all meetings, conferences, and seminars.
  5. Obtain satisfactory performance evaluations from staff medical physicists for all clinical rotations and independent projects. If evaluation is not satisfactory, complete additional assignments to make up any deficiencies.
  6. Pass regular oral exams administered by supervising medical physicists, residency Program Director, and residency Deputy Program Director. If exam performance is not satisfactory, additional work in particular areas may be assigned followed by re-examination at a later date.