What We Do


I feel extremely fortunate to have done my medical physics residency at the University of Colorado. I transitioned to medical physics from another field and this program provides exceptional training and mentorship, clinical experience, and ABR board preparation. Most importantly are the wonderful people I get to associate with. I'm very proud to be a part of the University of Colorado Medical Physics Residency family.
Brian W. Miller, PhD, DABR, Alumnus & Faculty

 

To help orient yourself with our program, here's an overview of everything we do, presented by Program Director Dr. Leah Schubert. Please view the powerpoint in presentation mode in order to hear the recording.

 

Click here to download a copy of the powerpoint file


Rotation CalendarResidency_Master_Schedule

Download Rotation Calendar (PDF)
 
Workflow, Equipment, and Dosimetry (1.5 months)
The resident will complete orientations through the university and within the department. The resident will observe patient visits with the radiation oncologists as well as participate in CT simulation and treatment delivery.  The resident will become familiar with the operation of the machines and radiation detector equipment used in the clinic.
 
3D and Advanced Treatment Planning (4.5 months)
The resident will learn fundamental treatment planning concepts for various disease sites while interacting closely with dosimetrists, radiation oncology faculty, and radiation oncology residents.  The resident will have the opportunity to perform all tasks related to treatment planning, including block fabrication, image registration, contouring, planning (hand calculations, 3DCRT, IMRT, and VMAT), chart preparation, and physics plan and chart reviews.
 
SRS and SBRT Special Procedures (3 months)
This rotation is focused on SRS, SBRT, and advanced delivery techniques, including motion management methods such as respiratory gating.  The resident will learn the theory and equipment requirements of these advanced treatments while becoming proficient in the SRS and SBRT treatment planning process.  The resident will also gain experience on GammaKnife machines.
 
External Beam Machines (2 months)

This rotation focuses on quality management of external beam treatment machines.  The resident will learn the subtle yet critical skills for calibrating and characterizing a machine well.  The resident will gain practical skills for avoiding pitfalls when performing TG-51 and using a 3D tank for beam scanning.

Brachytherapy (3 months)

The resident will become competent in brachytherapy physics coverage.  The resident will gain skills in brachytherapy treatment planning, treatment delivery, equipment commissioning and quality assurance.  The resident will be involved in all aspects of clinical brachytherapy cases, including HDR gynecological and prostate treatments, and LDR eye plaque cases.
 
Clinical Development and Emerging Topics (2 months)

During this rotation, the resident will participate in clinical development.  Opportunities for working on clinical development initiatives under close supervision of faculty arise during the resident’s clinical training, such as participation of commissioning new technology, implementing new techniques, or quality improvements in the clinic. The resident will also engage in a deeper study of emerging topics of their choice in the medical physics field, which provides the opportunities to study cutting edge technologies and new topics.

Imaging and Special Procedures (3 months)
Through a special collaboration with the Department of Radiology, the resident will learn the principles of oncologic imaging while observing oncologic diagnostic imaging procedures and shadowing diagnostic physicists.  The resident will then focus on how images are used in our department by participating in image fusion and IGRT procedures.  The resident will also gain the skills for handling special physics procedures and patient situations including TBI, TSE, implanted electronic cardiac devices, pregnant patients, and metal prostheses.
 
Facility Commissioning and Treatment Planning Algorithms (2.5 months)
The resident will apply knowledge gained from previous rotations to study the overall process of commissioning, as it provides the opportunity to combine knowledge of the equipment, operational procedures, and quality assurance already covered in previous rotations.  The resident will focus on treatment planning algorithms and linac commissioning.  The resident will also be co-assigned with a staff physicist on clinical coverage and troubleshooting, an especially valuable experience.

Beam Modeling and Shielding (2.5 months)
The resident will add to their knowledge of treatment planning algorithms and linac commissioning by focusing on treatment planning system commissioning.  The resident will continue to increase their experience in clinical coverage and troubleshooting during this last rotation.
Presentations with Integrated Q&A

At the end of each rotation, the resident will give a presentation to the physics staff on topics covering major areas of medical physics theory and principles.  Presentation topics are closely related to each rotation’s clinical objectives and also represent subjects within the major areas of study for board certification oral exams.  Additional time will then be spent during the presentation in which the resident will be asked questions related to the topics presented.  The main goals of this requirement are to hone the resident’s presentation skills, as well as provide a forum for oral questioning in order to prepare the resident for board examinations.

  • Rotation 1 - Theory and Operation of Radiation Detectors
  • Rotation 2 - Monitor Unit Calculations
  • Rotation 3 - Linac Design and Advanced Delivery Principles
  • Rotation 4 - Calibration of Radiation Producing Equipment
  • Rotation 5 - Brachytherapy Dose Calculation
  • Rotation 6 - (None)
  • Rotation 7 - Imaging Principles
  • Rotation 8 - Treatment Planning Algorithms
  • Rotation 9 - Shielding Design and Protection
 
Presentation to the Department

Residents will give one educational presentation to the department during their time in the program.  The residents choose the topic they will present, but it should be of interest not only to physicists, but to radiation oncologists, residents, and other department staff.  It takes unique skills to give an effective presentation to a broad range of staff within a hospital clinic.  Clinical and academic physicists commonly give such presentations, whether as a lecturer in a clinical training program, when training staff during the implementation of new technology, or when presenting their research to key stakeholders.  This presentation gives the resident the opportunity to gain teaching and presentation skills for a broader audience outside of the medical physics field.

 
Annual Oral Exams

At the end of each year, the resident will complete a rigorous, board-style oral exam.  These exams are conducted to fully simulate the exam experience.  The resident’s performance is evaluated by all medical physics faculty using board oral exam criteria.  These exams are especially valuable for preparing the resident for board certification.

Educational Lectures and Meetings

The department provides a wide range of lectures to enhance the resident’s technical and clinical knowledge.  Residents also attend department-wide meetings, in order to immerse the resident in the world of clinical physics as well as the workings of the clinic.

Didactic Lectures, Conferences, and Meetings Schedule
 Meeting Frequency Day Time
 Physics of Radiation TherapyWeeklyTBATBA
Treatment Planning*ǂTwice monthlyTBATBA
Clinical Oncology*ǂ (including case presentations, attending lectures, peer teaching, grand rounds, etc.)WeeklyTBATBA
Journal ClubOnce MonthlyWed2:00 PM
Board Preparation / Study SessionsOnce MonthlyWed2:00 PM
Clinical Quality Rounds3x a weekMon, Wed, Thurs8:00 AM
Physics MeetingTwice monthlyWed2:00 PM
Quality Safety and Operations Committee Meeting (y)Twice monthlyWed11:00 AM
Radiation Safety Subcommittee MeetingQuarterlyTBATBA
Department Staff MeetingMonthlyWednesday12:00 PM

* notification of exact times occurs via weekly emails from department administrative assistants

ǂ these lectures are considered part of Resident Education, which typically occur throughout the week.

(y) the chief physics resident is a member of the Quality Safety and Operations Committee and is expected to participate in meetings.  The first year resident is welcome, but is not required to attend.

Integrated Clinical Activities

The resident will be integrated into clinical activities under close supervision after demonstrating competency.  We strive for optimal balance of activities to ensure appropriate learning coupled with clinical experience.  Examples include:

  • Treatment planning
  • In vivo dosimetry
  • CT simulator quality assurance
  • Linac quality assurance
  • IMRT quality assurance (shared rotation with faculty)
  • HDR afterloader quality assurance & source exchanges
  • Radioactive source shipping and receiving
  • Radiation detector program
  • Quasi-independent clinical coverage and troubleshooting
Benefits

Our residents are provided with the same benefits as CU Faculty Fellows, including:

  • Salary: $56,000 (first year), $58,000 (second year)
  • 12 vacation days plus 3 banked holidays per year
  • 12 sick days per year
  • Duty hour leave
  • Funding to attend one national meeting
  • $500 educational funds
  • Medical and dental insurance
  • Disability and basic life insurance
  • Voluntary retirement plans
  • Office space and supplies (including desktop and laptop computers)
  • Resident library with medical physics textbooks and references
  • Access to campus and hospital facilities, including the Health Sciences Library

More details may be found at the University of Colorado’s Employee Services Site. For a greater breakdown of specific plans, please visit the employee services page and navigate to “Benefits & Wellness” -> “New Employee.” 

 

Physics Resident Libraries

The physics resident library available for the physics resident through the Department of Radiation Oncology. Each year new books are added upon resident request and available funds. The library is located in the residents' office.

Additionally, an electronic library is provided for physics residents.  Electronic files of required readings, recommended readings, and additional references such as electronic textbooks, AAPM reports, and study guide materials are stored in the ‘Physics Resident Electronic Library’ directory of the department shared network drive.