The purpose of a high school education is to prepare maturing teenagers for the transition into self-sufficient adults contributing to a vibrant society. High school cultivates the skills and academic talents necessary for young adults to become the next generation of business leaders, entrepreneurs, skilled laborers, teachers, doctors, engineers, health care professionals, and other workers needed to keep society thriving.
If you are currently in high school, you might be considering continuing your education at the university or technical college levels to acquire the skills needed to qualify for entry into intellectually stimulating and interesting occupations.
Life Beyond High School
Upon finishing high school, you have a future ahead of you with many opportunities that will allow you to make a difference in the world we live in. If you are interested in math, the physical sciences, and a medically related career, you might consider the fields of radiology or radiation oncology. In radiation oncology, we use many innovative, advanced technologies to treat cancer with radiation. Radiology is a medical field that applies radiation physics to capture images of the human body in order to diagnose cancer and other medical problems. It requires a team of highly skilled professionals to acquire diagnostic images as well as deliver safe and effective radiation therapies to patients.
Preparation in High School
All medical physics and related career paths will require additional training beyond a high school diploma. Choose high school courses that will prepare you to score well in the SAT and ACT college entrance exams. Take AP math and science courses in high school that will prepare you to do well in your college-level coursework.
Recommended high school courses and subject areas that will be particularly helpful for a medical physics career include:
- Analytic geometry
- Computer programming
- Human anatomy
- Technical writing
Participating in your high school science fair is a good way of learning how to plan and execute scientific studies and how to document your work. Consult the local chapters of professional societies related to physics, radiation oncology, or radiology to find mentors for science projects or to serve as judges at your school science fair.
Contact local chapters of professional societies to arrange for job shadowing or to arrange for a tour of medical facilities with radiology, radiation oncology, and/or nuclear medicine departments. This will give you valuable insights on how different professionals on a medical team work together and use new innovations in science to successfully diagnose and treat cancers. Ask professionals from your local radiology, radiation oncology, and/or nuclear medicine departments to volunteer to speak to your class or be represented at a high school career fair.
All of the career paths will require funds to obtain the required accredited training. You and your family may need to develop a financial plan to fund your undergraduate and possibly graduate or professional training. Study hard and try to earn good grades in high school so you will be competitive in applying for as many scholarships as possible. Serving in the military can be a less costly means of acquiring technical skills while working on the job or earning your college degree through the GI Bill or under a scholarship program.
- SDAMPP Student Guide to a Medical Physics Career
The Society of Directors of Academic Medical Physics Programs (SDAMPP), 2016
- Academic Program Recommendations for Graduate Degrees in Medical Physics
AAPM Report #197, 2009
- Essentials and Guidelines for Clinical Medical Physics Residency Training Programs
AAPM Report #249, 2013
- The Essential Medical Physics Didactic Elements for Physicists Entering the Profession Through an Alternative Pathway
AAPM Report #197S, 2011
- Alternative Clinical Medical Physics Training Pathways for Medical Physicists
AAPM Report#133, 2008