Medical physicists

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About medical physicists

Medical physicists have specialized training in the medical applications of physics. This involves the use of physical agents — including X-rays, particle beams, radioactive materials, ultrasound, magnetic and electric fields, heat and light — in medical diagnosis and therapy. 

Medical physicists work in cancer treatment facilities, hospital diagnostic imaging departments, hospital-based research establishments, universities, government and industry. 

Data availability

CIHI’s Health Workforce Database (HWDB) collects aggregate-level, standardized data on the regulatory environment, supply, and demographic and education characteristics of medical physicists in Canada.

Reports and analyses

Regulatory environment

In Canada, there are no legislated regulatory requirements for medical physicists. 

Practice criteria

To practise as a medical physicist in Canada, an individual must meet various requirements that may vary slightly from one jurisdiction to another. 

Common requirements

  • Hold a graduate degree in medical physics or physics from an accredited program or a related discipline
  • Obtain certificationi with the Canadian College of Physicists in Medicine (CCPM) or equivalent (a condition of employment in many provinces/for many employers)

Scope of practice

The scope of practice for medical physicists is articulated by the Canadian Organization of Medical Physicists, which outlines the range of responsibilities that define the boundaries of professional practice.

Medical physicists are highly trained professionals who focus on the physics and instrumentation related to diagnosis and treatment. Some of their main functions includeii

  • Providing clinical service in 1 or more of the 4 subfields of medical physics:
    • Radiation oncology
    • Nuclear medicine
    • Diagnostic radiology
    • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Providing expertise in radiation safety
  • Being involved in research and development
  • Teaching
 

i. Canadian College of Physicists in Medicine. Certification eligibility. Accessed June 1, 2016.
ii. Canadian Organization of Medical Physicists. Scope of practice. Accessed June 3, 2016.

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