Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

MMP Practicum

The goal of the medical physics practicum is to provide the student with an opportunity to experience what working in a Radiation Oncology clinic is like for a physicist.  Over the course of the practicum, students will be introduced to and gain an understanding of the process of treating a patient in our department, from simulation through treatment delivery.  Along the way, they will gain an understanding of the role that physics plays at each step in the process.  In addition, they will see the large role that physicists play in performing and advancing quality assurance within the department, whether that be an initial chart check or a linear accelerator monthly QA.  Students will also observe some of the special treatment procedures where physics plays a more visible role in the patient treatment, as in brachytherapy or stereotactic radiotherapy.  With so much ground to cover, we do not expect that students will emerge fully proficient in each area of medical physics, but rather that they will have a better understanding of the structure and workflow of a Radiation Oncology department and the different roles that physics plays within that department.                                                                                                                          

During the practicum, students will be assigned to a medical physics resident and a senior physicist mentor to help the student achieve the goals of the practicum.  Some of the time, the student will follow the physics resident directly and participate in the procedures in which the resident is involved.  But as residents are not involved in all aspects of the clinical process all of the time, students will also be spending time with other members of the department to gain the experience they need.  The physics resident will help coordinate the student’s training with other members of the department.  Both the resident and physicist mentor will be available to discuss any questions which the students have and to suggest supplementary material that will help the students during the practicum. 

At the start of the practicum, students will be assigned two days each week when they will be in the department.  The workspace available to students is limited, so the schedule is an attempt to optimize every student’s experience by allowing them to have the necessary resources available when they are in the department.  At the start of the practicum, students are strongly encouraged to meet with their assigned physics resident and physicist mentor early on to establish how best to meet the goals for the practicum.  The program is structured such that the students will follow the residents and ultimately the physics mentor.  On days when a student will be in the department, they should try to work around the resident’s schedule so that the student can take advantage of having the resident on hand as a resource.  After each two week period, students and residents should meet to discuss what material the student covered and where they will go next.  The program director will discuss student progress with the residents and mentors.

During the practicum, students will be required to present a 20-30 minute talk to the physics department on a medical physics topic of their choosing.  The topic could cover a particular procedure which they observed, a new technology emerging in the field, or another any medical physics topic related to the curriculum.  Physics residents and mentors can offer guidance on topic selection.  Topics should be approved by the mentor before presentation.  The chief physics resident will oversee scheduling of the presentations. 

A word about departmental conduct.  Everyone within the department is expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner.  Should you observe anyone acting unprofessionally, please alert us immediately and we will take necessary corrective action.  Professional attire is expected whenever students are involved in clinical activities in the department.

By working together, students, residents, physicists, physicians, and the whole department will be able to make this a positive learning experience which will help to train the medical physicists of the future and introduce the student to the radiation oncology team dynamic.

Below are a number of forms which must be completed prior to beginning the practicum:

Physics Observer and Clinical Fellow Confidentiality Agreement

Completed and signed forms should be emailed to Ms. Cordelia Baffic:


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