June 30, 2011

Students are first to receive new DMP degrees

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The first graduates of VUSM’s new Professional Doctorate in Medical Physics degree program are, from left, Travis Denton, Jared Newton and Robert Krauss. (Photo by Bobbi Humphreys)

Students are first to receive new DMP degrees

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine held a new graduation ceremony in June for three students who earned a Professional Doctorate in Medical Physics, or DMP degree.

Travis Denton, Robert Krauss and Jared Newton were the first VU students, as well as the first in the nation, to earn the newly created DMP degree.

Vanderbilt officials launched the new degree program after the American Board of Radiology changed the rules for students seeking certification in diagnostic radiology physics or radiation oncology physics.

Beginning in September 2014, graduate students must complete a graduate degree (M.S. or Ph.D.) and a two-year residency in Medical Physics to qualify for the licensing board exams.

“We considered that offering a didactic graduate education component and a medical physics residency training component in a continuous four-year program would offer our students an educational advantage over non-combined programs,” said Charles Coffey II, Ph.D., professor of Radiation Oncology.

“We are the first university to provide such a combined program in one degree.”

The DMP degree requires 50 semester hours of academic work, plus six semester hours of research and 36 semester hours of clinical rotation over a two-year period.

“These rigorous academic and clinical requirements are in keeping with Vanderbilt’s high standards for graduate and professional degree programs,” said Roger Chalkley, D.Phil., senior associate dean for Biomedical Research Education and Training.

The professional degree program has already been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Educational Programs. While Vanderbilt is the first university to offer the combined degree, a few other academic centers are exploring the concept.

Vanderbilt’s new DMP graduates will be qualified to work in either diagnostic radiology departments or radiation oncology departments.

“In diagnostic radiology, our job is to ensure that the machines are performing to state regulations, the image is clear and the patient is receiving an appropriately low dose of radiation,” said Coffey.

“In radiation oncology, we are doing treatment planning, assigning the radiation fields and angles to precisely deliver the radiation to the tumor and performing quality assurance on the equipment and the procedures used in radiotherapy.”

Coffey says the newly created professional degree should assist graduates in finding good jobs and news of the new degree opportunity is helping Vanderbilt fill its graduate degree slots.