Program Structure & Governance

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The Medical Physics graduate program is administratively housed in the Medical School of the University of Minnesota.

The program director (known as the Director of Graduate Studies, or DGS, in the University of Minnesota system) has many duties as specified by the Medical School of the University of Minnesota. Faculty members are nominated by the DGS or by their graduate faculty colleagues who have governance privileges in the program (i.e., graduate program faculty whose appointments do not include an “Affiliate” designation) for membership in the program. A ballot is sent to all faculty members and a simple majority vote is required for approval. Graduate programs make appointments to the graduate faculty.

After endorsement at the program level, appointments are forwarded to the Medical School, where they are confirmed by the Assistant Dean for Graduate Education in the Medical School (on behalf of the Dean of the Medical School). Medical Physics is not the home department of any faculty member in the program. The program pays no portion of any faculty member’s salary and plays no role in promotion and tenure other than to provide teaching evaluations or other data as requested by the home department.

Instructors

The majority of the instructors for the program are from the Department of Radiation Oncology, Department of Radiology, and Department of Physics at the University of Minnesota. Faculty members outside of Radiation Oncology and Radiology usually have graduate students in their own department’s graduate programs. Faculty are listed as active if they advise and support a student in the program at least once every five years or if they show active participation in the program by serving on student’s M.S. and Ph.D. committees at least once every five years. Classrooms for instruction are located either in University of Minnesota buildings or in the University of Minnesota Medical School – Fairview Hospital. Office space for students is provided in University of Minnesota facilities. Equipment required for laboratory courses is either owned by the University or is supplied by the University of Minnesota Medical Center – Fairview Hospital.

Two of the core courses, Phys 5401, Physics for Biology and Medicine I: Physiological Physics (4 cr) and Phys 5402, Physics for Biology and Medicine II: Radiological Physics (4 cr), are taught by the Physics Dept. This is an acceptable and stable arrangement since the Physics Dept. provides this course for a number of interested departments (Biomedical Engineering, Physics, Engineering, etc.). Students occasionally sit in on lectures to the Radiation Oncology and Radiology residents. We feel that this gives the students some awareness of the level of physics that the physicians understand, thereby promoting better communication as they become medical physicists.

Committees

The Program Steering Committee addresses the long term needs of the program and any short term issues. This committee is composed of the DGS (Program Director), the Associate DGS (Associate Program Director), at least one member from the Diagnostic Radiology Department, at least one member from the Department of Radiation Oncology, at least one member from an associated department, and a graduate student member. Professors in the program will be asked to nominate potential members for inclusion on the Steering Committee. Professors can also state their own interest in being on the committee.

Final selection of committee members will be done by the existing members of the Steering Committee. Committee membership for the rotating members is three years duration. This committee provides long term direction and vision for the program. The committee also addresses the assortment of courses within the program, describes the core courses in certain tracks, conducts evaluations of courses within the program, plans the addition of courses to the program, and ensures that the courses required for continued CAMPEP accreditation of the Medical Physics track of the program are available.

The program has an Admissions Committee that consists of the Program Director (DGS), the Associate Program Director, and at least one other professor from the program. Professors in the program will be asked to nominate potential members for inclusion on the Admissions Committee. Professors can also state their own interest in being on the committee. Final selection of committee members will be done by the existing members of the Admissions Committee. Committee membership for the rotating members is three years duration.

Student advisory committees are formed as needed. The DGS acts as the advisor of record for all incoming students. As the students become involved with faculty member’s research, advisorship is transferred, typically after two to four semesters. Students have access to equipment in the various departments as they work with those faculty members who are supporting them using their own grants and contracts. Employment of the student is arranged through the departments. The program does not pay any salaries to students or faculty.