About Our Program

Program History

The medical physics training at the Department of Radiation Oncology in Columbia University Medical Center can be traced back to 1993 when the first postdoctoral trainee was hired to develop a 3-D treatment planning system in a joint effort with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Since then, the postdoctoral trainees obtained clinical training by taking core courses offered in Columbia’s Medical Physics Graduate Program until a physics residency program named as Medical Physics Residency Program of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital was jointly created by Columbia University and Cornell University in 2009.

The joint program was granted full accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs (CAMPEP) in January 2013, and was subsequently re-accredited in 2018. Columbia and Cornell became two independent CAMPEP-accredited physics residency programs after Cornell obtained CAMPEP accreditation in November 2020.

Program Mission

The three primary missions of the Columbia University Residency Program in Medical Physics are to (1) provide robust, in-depth clinical training which will prepare graduates to integrate successfully into a modern radiation oncology clinic to ensure high-quality care for radiation oncology patients; (2) prepare graduates for a career as a Therapeutic Medical physicist, securing board certification by the American Board of Radiology (ABR) in the specialty of Therapeutic Medical Physics with a clear understanding of professional expectations; and (3) provide residents an opportunity to contribute to medical physics-centric research initiatives to strengthen the academic portfolio of graduates.

Program Overview

Columbia University Residency Program in Medical Physics (Therapy) is a three-year program consisting of, in aggregate, two years of clinical instruction  and one year of research. The training program is based on the Guidelines for Accreditation of Medical Physics Residency Programs as published by CAMPEP.

In addition to clinical rotations listed in Curriculum, the residents receive training by participating in clinical activities with progressively increasing responsibilities under the supervision of qualified medical physicists. The 1st-year resident is gradually introduced to IMRT QA, machine QA, and in-vivo dosimetry with their increasing familiarity with LINAC and dosimetry systems. As the resident advances through the clinical rotations, they will participate in chart checks and become the “Physicist of the Day” (POD) to provide first response of physics support to all clinical activities.

Each clinical rotation is under close supervision of two faculty physicists. Residents are expected to discuss their hands-on clinical progress with the rotation mentors on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Residents are expected to keep a logbook documenting all their clinal and didactic activities. Performance review meetings are held every two weeks between the resident and the Program Director to discuss overall performance, determine remediation plans if necessary, and set goals for future improvement. The Program Director will provide the resident with a written progress report after the performance review meeting.

At the end of each clinical rotation, residents are expected to complete all the items on the competence list and pass the oral exam. Residents will receive written feedback and “Pass/Fail” result based on their competence and performance on the oral exam. All rotations must be passed to complete the residency program.