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Radiation Oncology Clinical Medical Physics Residency (Minnesota)

Curriculum

A Mayo Clinic radiation oncology medical physicist inspects a piece of equipment.

Rotation schedule

The following is an approximate outline of the rotations each year of residency.

Year 1

Image-guided Radiation Therapy

“A strength of the IGRT rotation is that the photon and proton clinics utilize very different IGRT technologies. Exposure to both clinics broadens the resident’s understanding of IGRT implementation and philosophy.” – Mark Pepin, Ph.D., Physics resident

Dosimetric Systems

"Dosimetric systems guides you through commissioning of the fundamental detectors used throughout our practice. You gain a broad understanding of each detector type and useful time working with the linear accelerators early in the residency." – Eric Brost, Ph.D., Physics resident

External Beam Treatment Planning

"This rotation puts the resident on the 'front-line' of treatment planning as they spend six dedicated weeks in dosimetry creating clinical plans and learning directly from the dosimetrists." – Mark Pepin, Ph.D., Physics resident

Physicist of the Day (POD)

“Shadowing physicists with many years of experience was a great preparation to cover this important clinical role of a medical physicist. By the end of the rotation you understand the important role of POD and how it fits in the overall QA of the treatment machines, patient chart QA, and troubleshooting machine problems." – Abdou Abdel-Rehim, Ph.D., Physics resident

Plan Check

“As one of the critical coverages in our clinic, you will be exposed to plan checking throughout all of your first year. This prepares you to begin signing off on plans independently by the start of year two and provides a large scope on clinic operations.” – Eric Brost, Ph.D., Physics resident

External Beam QA

“As residents, we are involved in all aspects of external beam QA on our linear accelerators, including daily, monthly, and annual testing. We receive thorough training during our first year and then have increasing independence in subsequent years.” – Susannah Hickling, Ph.D., Physics resident

Radiotherapy Simulation

“This rotation gives in-depth knowledge of all aspects of radiotherapy simulation process: both didactic and hands-on experience that covers patient setup and immobilization, the role of different imaging modalities, CT scanner QA and commissioning, and 4D CT simulations.” – Abdou Abdel-Rehim, Ph.D., Physics resident

Respiratory Motion Management

“Respiratory Motion Management has you build upon the fundamentals that you learn in the simulation rotation. You learn how the clinic utilizes various motion management techniques and prepares you for clinical coverage starting in year two.” – Eric Brost, Ph.D., Physics resident

Brachytherapy Didactics

“Having specific didactic time with the brachytherapy mentor prepares you to hit the clinical rotation at full speed with a solid understanding of the why and how of brachytherapy.” – Mark Pepin, Ph.D., Physics resident

Year 2

Brachytherapy Clinical

“The brachytherapy training program at Mayo Clinic is very strong and well organized. I had extensive exposure to both routine and 'not-so routine' brachytherapy cases such as ERCP bile duct treatments.” – Omar El-Sherif, Ph.D., 2019 residency graduate

Treatment Planning System (TPS) Commissioning

“The TPS rotation is heavily didactic, with some hands-on experience of commissioning Varian Eclipse TPS. In this rotation, I learned the basics of different TPS algorithms, and some algorithms in depth.” – Jing Qian, Ph.D., Physics resident

IMRT Quality Assurance

“The IMRT QA rotation offers well-guided didactic and hands-on learning on both trajectory log-based and measurement-based patient-specific QA. We had in-depth discussion on philosophy and techniques of IMRT QA and lots of practice. This rotation prepares you well to independently cover IMRT QA, including urgent same-day IMRT QA.” – Jing Qian, Ph.D., Physics resident

Treatment Machine Calibration (TG-51)

“In this rotation, you will become proficient in calibrating linacs using the TG-51 protocol and gain a thorough understanding of the physics underlying TG-51.” – Hok Seum Wan Chan Tseung, Ph.D., 2017 residency graduate and TG-51 rotation mentor

“The TG-51 rotation offers you a thorough understanding of the AAPM calibration protocol at a fundamental level as well as a hands-on mock calibration using typical clinical equipment. Through the rotation, you become well-prepared to perform TG-51 independently and are familiarized with the requisite technical considerations.” – Yue-Houng Hu, Ph.D., Physics resident

Total Skin Electron Therapy

“The TSE rotation is well organized in both didactic part and hands-on part. We participated in annual QA, patient treatments, planning and in-vivo dosimetry. Physicists play a big role at Mayo in TSE treatment.” – Jing Qian, Ph.D., Physics resident

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy

“The SBRT rotation comprises of both didactic and clinical components. Being a resident a Mayo affords you the opportunity to participate in a great variety of cases and treatment sites.”– Yue-Houng Hu, Ph.D., Physics resident

Year 3

Treatment Machine ATP, Survey, and Commissioning

“As a large clinic, there are always new machines in the clinic. Residents are involved with an actual linear accelerator commissioning." – Jiasen Ma, Ph.D., 2018 residency graduate

Dosimetry Physicist of the Day

“This rotation allows residents to understand and be involved in unique cases such as fetal dosimetry measurements, planning considerations for patients with implanted devices and clinical set-ups on the machine.” – Susannah Hickling, Ph.D., Physics resident

Monitor Unit Calculation

“Since a fundamental understanding of monitor unit calculations is vitally important for clinical medical physicists, this rotation gets into some of the nitty-gritty details of the theory and practice using the AAPM TG-71 report as the primary reference.” – John Antolak, Ph.D., Rotation mentor

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

“When the installation of a new gamma knife unit lined up with our rotation, we were given the opportunity to fully participate in the acceptance testing and commissioning process. Interacting with the installation engineer, helping design commissioning tests, and troubleshooting issues that arose was an invaluable experience.” – Susannah Hickling, Ph.D., Physics resident

Shielding and Room Design

“This rotation delves into the methodology, technical details, and regulatory compliance for the determination of radiation shielding for photon, brachytherapy, and particle therapy treatment facilities.“ – Michael Herman, Ph.D., Rotation mentor

Protons – Gantry

“In this rotation, the resident is trained to handle the responsibilities of the proton on-call physicist for treatment: troubleshooting, coverage of special procedures at the machine (including breath hold, phase gating, SBRT, in-room CT imaging, partial breast and hypofractionated treatments, placement of beam modifiers), as well as proton daily and monthly QA. This provides invaluable experience for anyone looking into a career as a proton physicist.” – Hok Seum Wan Chan Tseung, Ph.D., 2017 residency graduate

“The unique experience of being trained in an additional modality like proton therapy was very beneficial. Few residents have the skill set and clinical experience in proton therapy, making us that much more competitive in the job market.” – Michelle Howard, 2020 residency graduate

Protons – Dosimetry Planning

"This rotation not only covers all aspects of proton beam therapy planning, but also exposes you to a variety of tools unique to Mayo Clinic. It provides a solid foundation for proton treatment planning. The proton physics group at Mayo Clinic is heavily involved with treatment planning. The close relationship between dosimetrists, physicians, and physics has been enjoyable." – Jiasen Ma, Ph.D., 2018 residency graduate

Intraoperative Radiation Therapy

“IORT provides a great opportunity to participate in multidisciplinary patient care. The on-spot work with radiation oncologist in determining radiation techniques and ensuring accurate dose delivery in the operation room highlight the responsibilities of a medical physicist.” – Yan Zhang, Ph.D., 2016 residency graduate

Total Body Irradiation

“The TBI program at Mayo Clinic started in 1982. Currently, we average about 30 patients per year, with ages ranging from under six months to over 60 years.” – Robert Dahl, M.S., TRP(ABR), Rotation mentor

Orthovoltage

“The optional orthovoltage rotation is an opportunity to gain experience with and understand the considerations involved in treating with this relatively uncommon modality.” – Yue-Houng Hu, Ph.D., Physics resident

Regional Practice

This is an optional rotation that provides experience in a smaller radiation oncology practice.

Research training is integrated into the three-year program and coordinated with your clinical training. Research programs at Mayo Clinic are strong and diverse, with plenty of research opportunities for residents to participate in cutting-edge studies. 

Clinical rotation completion and competency is evaluated through written and oral exams with faculty members. The oral exams are formatted in a way to also prepare residents for the ABR oral board exam.

In addition, you regularly evaluate the faculty to confirm that your educational needs are being met.