Residency Program Information

The Nuts & Bolts of What We Do


Our two-year program strives for clinical and professional excellence.  Our program is well organized, in order to ensure the breadth of topics in radiation oncology is covered.  The resident is fully integrated into the medical physics team, and we emphasize a teaching approach of supervised hands-on learning.

Program requirements are described in the followed sections.  They have been carefully designed in order to collectively provide the successful resident with the technical, clinical, and professional skills for the board certification examination and to practice independently in radiation oncology physics.

Program Goals

We provide structured training in all broad areas of clinical radiation oncology physics.  Residents become integral team members in the Department of Radiation Oncology and interact closely with faculty and staff.  The overall goal of the program is to prepare the resident for a professional career in radiation oncology physics.  We provide hands-on clinical training, as well as preparation for the board certification examination.

Program Structure

The University of Colorado Therapeutic Medical Physics Residency Program is a two-year program, during which the resident will complete a series of requirements including nine clinical rotations. The resident will be mentored by one faculty physicist for each rotation.  The rotation mentor, along with two additional physicists, form a team that is responsible for the resident’s progress through the rotation.  However, because the physics group works closely together, the resident will interact with numerous physicists at any given time.

In order to strive to provide the highest quality training experience, we believe that education programs need to continuously evolve and innovate.  Feedback about the program is constantly sought, especially feedback from residents, in order to continue to raise the program to the next level of excellence.


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.
End of Rotation Q&A

At the end of each rotation, the resident will undergo a question and answer session with physics staff on topics covering areas of medical physics theory and principles. 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. The main goal of this requirement is to assess fundamental medical physics knowledge levels and provide a forum for oral questioning to prepare the resident for board examinations. 

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 the 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. Regular lecture and meetings include:

  • Clinical oncology lectures
  • Physics of radiation therapy lectures
  • Treatment planning lectures and workshops
  • Monthly journal clubs
  • Monthly board exam study sessions
  • Clinical quality rounds
  • Physics faculty/staff meetings
  • Radiation safety subcommittee meetings
  • Department staff meetings
  • Quality & Safety / Clinical Operations meetings
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 / staff)
  • HDR afterloader quality assurance & source exchanges
  • Radioactive source shipping and receiving
  • Radiation detector program
  • Quasi-independent clinical coverage and troubleshooting

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

  • $73,296 - First year Salary
  • $76,446 - Second year Salary
  • 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


Residents are employed by the University of Colorado School of Medicine and will receive an offer letter that includes information required by University policies. Please note that, per Colorado law, employees are notified in the contract as being subject to termination by either party to such contract at any time during its term, and deemed to be an employee-at-will. This clause follows due process consistent with CAMPEP requirements and University policies and procedures.

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