Program History

Since its inception in 1853, Washington University in St. Louis has grown to be an internationally reknowned research university. Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) has spearheaded efforts to create a model for American medical education and research for the last 150 years. The Department of Radiation Oncology originated as a division of Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology (MIR), established in 1931.The Department of Radiation Oncology became a standalone department in 2001, and now consists of three divisions: Clinical Radiation Oncology, Medical Physics, and Cancer Biology. The department is one of the largest in the United States and a national leader in developing innovative radiation treatments for cancer patients.

The history of medical physics education and training in Radiation Oncology spans over two decades. In the 1980s, in reaction to a continued shortage of qualified clinical physicists, American Association for Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) developed comprehensive guidelines for hospital-based residencies, outlined in AAPM Report 36[1]. In light of these developments, the Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University School of Medicine formalized their previous “post-doctoral” training approach and established the Radiation Oncology Medical Physics Residency Program in 1992. 

Efforts to formalize and streamline physics education and training lead to the WUSM Radiation Oncology Physics Residency program receiving CAMPEP accreditation in 1997, the first ever medical physics training program to obtain this accreditation. In the last 25 years, more than 40 students have graduated from this residency program.

The Medical Physics Division in the department of Radiation Oncology currently provides research and training opportunities to a large number of PhD researchers in different areas of science and engineering as applied to radiation oncology. The Department of Radiation Oncology established the Medical Physics Graduate Certificate Program in 2017, with the intent of providing a pathway for post doctoral fellows to enter into clinical physics residencies.

Our post-PhD certificate program focuses on providing students with the medical physics background necessary for future success in medical physics, while also offering opportunities to perform cutting edge research in patient focused areas.

[1] AAPM Report 36 Superseded by 90 – Essentials and Guidelines for Hospital-Based Medical Physics Residency Training Programs: Report of the Subcommittee on Residency Training and Promotion of the Education and Training of Medical Physics Committee of the AAPM Education Council. ISBN 9781888340624, 2006