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Dr. Peter Ehni
Associate Professor of Physics
Email: pehni@wju.edu
Phone: 1-304-243-2433

Concentration in Medical Physics

What is medical dosimetry?
A branch of health physics concerned with the calculation of proper radiation dosage to cancer patients. Dosimetrists work with oncologists to determine the best ways to treat cancer with radiation.

Who might be interested?

  • Physics majors may go on to graduate programs in medical physics, or enter the workforce as medical dosimetrists.
  • Chemistry and Biology majors considering a health-care career.
  • Nuclear Medicine majors may be interested in the program to further their understanding of dosimetry.

What are the applications of medical dosimetry training?¹

  • Clinical service and consultation
    • planning of radiation treatments for cancer patients, using either external radiation beams or internal radioactive sources.
    • accurate measurement of the radiation output from radiation sources employed in cancer therapy.
    • In the specialty of nuclear medicine, physicists collaborate with physicians in procedures utilizing radioactive materials for viewing internal organs and determining important physiological variables, such as metabolic rates and blood flow.
    • Other important services are rendered through investigation of equipment performance, organization of quality control in imaging systems, design of radiation installations, and control of radiation hazards.
  • Research and Development
    • Cancer: primarily focus on issues involving radiation, such as the basic mechanisms of biological change after irradiation, the application of new high-energy machines to patient treatment, and the development of new techniques for precise measurement of radiation.
    • Heart disease: physicists work on the measurement of blood flow and oxygenation.
    • Mental illness: work on the recording, correlation, and interpretation of bioelectric potentials.

What are the job opportunities?

  • The dosimetrist job market is projected to grow at a much higher rate than other fields, about 25% from 2006 to 2016 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dosimetrists typically earn annual salaries between $79,000 and $94,000.²
  • Salaries for board certified medical physicists (with a master's degree) range between $140,000 and $250,000, depending on the number of years of experience beyond board certification.³

What makes WID special?
We are one of only a handful of universities in the country offering any undergraduate medical physics training. Students get to work directly with world-renowned prostate cancer specialist Dr. Gregory Merrick and his medical physics staff in the Schiffler Cancer Center at Wheeling Hospital. What have our students accomplished so far?

  • 10 articles published in refereed medical journals.
  • 2 students in the graduate medical physics program at the University of Wisconsin
  • 1 student working at the CMS headquarters in Florida
  • 1 student in biomedical engineering graduate program at Wright State
  • 1 student in physics graduate school

The Urologic Research Institute (URI) is the research arm of the Schiffler Cancer Center at Wheeling Hospital. The mission of the URI is to improve the quality of public health through various research, prevention and outreach strategies that result in the effective prevention, diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer and other urologic disorders. Through an undergraduate program, Wheeling Jesuit University medical physics majors are offered an academic concentration designed to prepare them to pursue advanced degrees in medical physics, or be qualified for medical physical positions right out of college. In a clinical research setting, students learn from a leading urologic radiation oncologist, physicists and docimetrists involved in cutting-edge research and development. The combination of academic instruction and practical application makes the program one of only ten throughout the country that focuses on medical physics at the undergraduate level.

To learn more about the URI, please visit The Urologic Research Institute.


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