About the Program

The two-year Medical Physics Residency at Houston Methodist was begun in July 2015. To date, the program has successfully recruited and enrolled one resident per year. The program consists of a first year (junior) and a second year (senior) resident. We graduated our first resident in June 2017.

Program Goals

The two major goals of the program are to provide a broad based in-depth training which will allow the graduate to integrate successfully into a clinical system, thus assuring the continued quality of medical care received by the radiation oncology patient; and to prepare the graduate for certification by the ABR in the specialty of Therapeutic Radiological Physics.

Program Objectives

Clinical Experience
The resident shall participate in routine clinical operations serving in either the role of a dosimetrist or physicist. The resident will be required to interact with physicians as well as technical staff and is expected to manage the patient's treatment beginning with the simulation and ending with the treatment.

Radiation Dosimetry for Patient Care
In order to accurately calculate the patient dose in a clinical environment, the resident must be able to incorporate all the uncertainties associated with the process, including simulation, machine delivery variations, and limitations of dose calculation algorithms in the treatment planning computers. Residents will:
  • Receive instructions regarding the protocols for defining organs that require delineation in treatment planning systems.
  • Receive instructions for the proper fusing of CT, MR, PET and other image data sets used in treatment planning.
  • Assist in CT-simulation procedures to develop skills in immobilization and image data transfer to treatment planning systems.
  • Demonstrate the ability to independently run clinically acceptable standard patient treatment plans using department treatment planning systems.
  • Demonstrate the ability to independently run clinically acceptable segmented patient treatment plans using department treatment planning systems.
  • Demonstrate the ability to independently run clinically acceptable inverse patient treatment plans with fixed-fields using department treatment planning systems.
  • Demonstrate the ability to independently run clinically acceptable inverse patient treatment plans with VMAT using department treatment planning systems.
  • Demonstrate the ability to independently run both LDR and HDR brachytherapy planning.
  • Develop understanding of all the algorithms utilized in department treatment planning systems

Radiation Dosimetry for Radiation Protection of Staff, Patients and General Public
In order to provide protection from radiation to both the general public as well as the radiation worker, one must possess knowledge of basic radiation biology and the state and federal limits for radiation exposure. Legally required documentation includes demonstration that radiation-producing machines are calibrated according to recognized protocols from scientific agencies and that measured radiation in the working environment meets governmental standards. To achieve this, residents are expected to:
  • Perform “second check” review of all types of treatment plans before first treatment
  • Perform quality assurance (QA) of machines based on departmental protocols
  • Perform QA of Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) plans
  • Perform shielding design for a therapy machine vault
  • Measure radiation doses in rooms housing patients implanted with radioactive material
  • Read the relevant American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) Task Group (TG) reports detailed in the appropriate rotation objectives.
  • Read the assigned Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) rules and regulations
  • Give presentations on a regular basis over various TG reports or clinical projects for which they are responsible

Research Experience
The resident will be expected to participate in a clinical research project that results in either a poster presentation or an oral presentation at a meeting organized outside of the hospital system during their time at Houston Methodist.

Preparation for Board Exams
In addition to the clinical competency expected of the resident in order to successfully complete certification by the ABR, the resident will be subjected to oral exams similar in setting and scope of the ABR Part III Exam by the physics faculty after each quarter in the areas of physics they have been exposed to during that time.

Professionalism
Residents are expected to demonstrate a commitment to professional responsibilities. They shall:
  • Show respect and compassion to others, including patient confidentiality
  • Demonstrate integrity during interactions with others
  • Follow appropriate dress codes
  • Expand technical skills in response to demands of patient care

Interpersonal and Communication Abilities
Residents must acquire and demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in an effective exchange of information and collaboration with physicians and departmental technical staff. Residents are expected to:
  • Accurately implement physician’s prescriptions for treatment plans
  • Explain variances in plans to the physician
  • Accurately communicate instructions to the dosimetrists and therapists
  • Deliver a departmental seminar on radiation safety
  • Implement verbal or written instructions from physics faculty
  • Explain technical issues to patients and families
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