Program History & Graduate Destinations
The University of Florida’s Medical Physics Graduate Program has been in continuous existence for 55 years and has produced hundreds of Medical Physics graduates over that time. The program has evolved over the years, and has been a cooperative effort of several departments at the University. The program has been a joint effort of the multiple departments within the College of Engineering and College of Medicine. This joint effort continues to evolve to allow the program to capitalize on diverse resources to grow strong research programs and optimize clinical training and relevance. The program received initial CAMPEP Accreditation in November of 2001 and was reaccredited in 2006 and 2011. The program has maintained a relatively constant enrollment of approximately 40 graduate students and stable cadre of faculty. With the relocation of the program to the College of Medicine, faculty participants and curriculum remain unchanged and the transition will be largely administrative in nature.
In 1961, the Colleges of Medicine and Engineering jointly sponsored initiation of the medical physics graduate program through the Department of Radiology and the Department of Nuclear Engineering Sciences. The graduate program was initially established as part of a U.S. Public Health Service sponsored program to train radiation health scientists. In 1966 and 1967 Dr. Emmett Bolch and Dr. Charles Roessler joined the Environmental Engineering and Nuclear Engineering faculty, respectively, and a tri-department program in Medical Health Physics was established, comprised of Environmental Engineering, Nuclear Engineering and Radiology. Until 1972 the academic home of the Medical Physics program remained in Radiology. In 1972, however, the Chairman of the Radiology Department, Dr. Clyde Williams, felt that medical physics graduate students should have a more rigorous scientific curriculum than Radiology could offer, and the academic home of the program was transferred to the Department of Nuclear Engineering Sciences. Although the academic program was administered through the College of Engineering, clinical physics faculty involvement, and student activity in the clinical environment continued in the College of Medicine.
In the late 1970’s a clear functional separation developed between diagnostic radiology and radiation therapy, which was consistent with the professional distinction that was evolving in these clinical areas. In 1986 Radiation Oncology became a separate department under the direction of Dr. Rod Million, and the Medical Physics program was a joint program of three departments, Radiology, Radiation Oncology, with the academic home for the program in Nuclear Engineering Sciences. In 1995 the Department of Nuclear Engineering Sciences changed its name to the Department of Nuclear and Radiological Engineering to more accurately reflect the department’s areas of emphasis.
In 2010 the faculty and administration of the College of Engineering proposed that the continued development and advancement of the Medical Physics Graduate Program’s goals could best be achieved by moving the academic home of the program to the University’s J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering. Effective May 2011, three medical physics faculty transferred their tenure home from Nuclear & Radiological Engineering and the administration of student records and curriculum were transitioned to the Biomedical Engineering Department. Dr. David Hintenlang has now left the University of Florida and Dr. Manuel Arreola has assumed the role of Medical Physics Graduate Program Director. Dr. Arreola is faculty in the Department of Radiology in the College of Medicine and will shepherd the program in the transition to that college. The UF Medical Physics Program has developed what we believe to be an academic program that provides a balance of clinical and research experience to its hundreds of graduates, many of whom have gone on to become recognized leaders in the field. The medical physics faculty recognizes that, in today’s dynamic health care and university systems, it is necessary for the program to continue to evolve and adapt to the changing environment. Continuing CAMPEP review and accreditation of the program provides an excellent independent review regarding the future evolution of the UF Medical Physics program.
Graduates of the medical physics program typically go on to successful clinical careers where they contribute to all specialty areas of medical physics. Recent graduates have had excellent success in obtaining desirable residency positions. Statistics on admissions and placement of graduates over the past several years is illustrated in the table below.