Friday, October 5, 2007

Medical Physics: The Perfect Intermediate Level Physics Class

In 2001, Nelson Christensen of Carleton College published an article in the European Journal of Physics (Volume 22, Pages 421–427) titled “Medical Physics: the Perfect Intermediate Level Physics Class.” The primary textbook for his class was the 3rd edition of Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology. Below is the conclusion to his paper.
A medical physics course should be looked upon as a beneficial addition to the undergraduate physics curriculum. The course should be considered as an ideal addition to the intermediate level physics curriculum, as it covers almost all of the major subjects that physics undergraduates should see. Students are often bored by lack of direct applications or good examples when covering physics subjects. In our class we talked about physics within the context of medical applications. For every physical topic there was a medical application; students loved it.

The interdisciplinary nature of a course like medical physics offers other advantages. A course like this provides an opportunity for keen pre-medical students to return to physics. A number of the pre-meds are genuinely interested in physics, but lack a good opportunity or reason to take an upper-level physics course. The differing backgrounds of the physics and pre- medical students presented an additional benefit in that a fantastic environment for stimulating discussions was created. The students would share with one-another their expertise.

Finally, there can be no denying that medical physics and biomedical engineering are evolving at a breakneck pace. There are opportunities available in abundance in these fields. Students are interested in medical physics for a number of reasons. There are equally good reasons for the faculty to provide a course in medical physics. This is exciting physics and exciting science!

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