A Fellow Student's Guide to the WSU Medical Physics Program

What do I need to do during...
  1. Summer before school begins
  2. Orientation Day
  3. September Year 1
  4. October December Year 1
  5. January Year 1
  6. February March Year 1
  7. May July Year 1
  8. August: End of Year 1, Beginning of Year 2
  9. Year 2
  10. Miscellaneous
  11. How to get into the building

This super helpful guide for the incoming student was created initially by Don Eagle and Robyn Spink and then updated by Evan Silverstein. It has been further updated since its original publication to reflect changes in the administrative processes, but it would not exist at all if not for Don, Robyn, and Evan.  Their work is much appreciated. 

Summer before school begins

Register for:

ROC 5010: Introduction to Radiological Physics

ROC 7000: Imaging Physics I

ROC 7060: Applied Radiobiology in Radiological Science

This course can be taken either year but is highly recommended to be taken during the first year, unless you will have a busy schedule during the first semester.

Buy textbooks (see official class info for exact textbooks and versions):

ROC 5010: Radiation Physics for Medical Physicists: Podgorsak (ISBN: 3319253808)

5010 Coursepack (available online @ (Dollar Bill Printing)

ROC 7000: The Essential Physics of Medical Imaging, Third Edition: Bushberg (ISBN: 0781780578)

ROC 7060: Basic Clinical Radiobiology, Fifth Edition: Joiner (ISBN: 1444179632)


When you get here:

Go to Wayne State Welcome Center at 42 West Warren Avenue (2nd Floor) and get your ONE card. 

Your One Card must be visible at all times when in the Radiation Oncology department.  See program administrative assistant for badge holder to display badge when in the hospital.

Put cash on your OneCard.  This is optional if you need to use paid parking on campus or printing in the library. Given below are two methods to load money to your OneCard (please check https://onecard.wayne.edu/depositing for latest information)

Method 1:

  • Go to Academica
  • On main page, click on "University Resources" under the "Resources" section in the menu.
  • Click on "Access OneCard Account"
  • Here you will find your account activity and can make a deposit online.

Method 2:

  • Stop by any ONE card machine and deposit cash into the card.  MUST have cash only.
  • Some nearby ONE Card locations:
    • In the lobby of the building you got your ONE Card
    • At the Med School Library (Shiffman Library)
    • In the Med School cafeteria (Scott Hall)

If you would like to pay for parking in a WSU structure, the structure closest to the medical school is structure #4.  However, given the number of times you will be on campus during the semester, it is usually more cost effective to simply pay each time you park rather than purchasing the parking pass for the structure.

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Orientation Day

  • Park in the lot on E. Canfield Street, between St. Antoine Street and Brush Street.  If you have your OneCard already, it will cost ~$4.00.  Without the card, you can use your Credit Card but it will cost ~$8.50. You may, of course, park on the street if you choose.  Brush is a one way street and has free parking but is difficult to find parking spaces.
  • Follow attached map to building entrance.
  • Enter Gershenson Radiation Oncology Clinic:
    • From building entrance:
      • go down the stairs
      • through the double door ahead of you (NOT the ones with MRI warning signs, but the one exactly opposite to it)
      • Across the tunnel
      • Through the single door straight ahead
      • Across the small lobby
      • Bear right around the reception desk
      • Go through the second door on your left (that says "Employees Only")
  • This is the main Physics Area. You will be instructed 'where to go' from here. Be aware that this is an active and busy clinic. Patients will be undergoing treatment when you arrive. Please yield to anyone you pass as you make your way into the department. Bearing left around the reception desk will take you through the North nursing station. Although a more direct route to the conference room; however, please DO NOT take this route as students' flow through the nursing station can disturb patients in examination rooms and be disruptive to clinical activities. Also, do not wait in the hallways for classes to begin.
  • If you arrive early for class, please wait in the physics area but please also be sensitive to the noise level around the offices.  Scheduled study groups are best held in the Shiffman Library. Alternatively, the physics lab in the back of the ROC is dedicated for students as a study room. If locked, please ask one of the faculty to unlock the room.

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September Year 1

Register for Part I of the ABR Exam


You will be required to select a subfield of Medical Physics; however, Part I is the same for all subfields and you are able to change subfields in the future as long as you notify the ABR prior to enrolling for Part II.

Register for Student Membership to the AAPM


Masters Projects

It is a good idea from the very beginning of the program to pay attention to subjects that interest you.  When you start looking for a project next summer, it will be helpful to have these interests in mind. Also, it will be helpful to develop relationships with various faculty members who are potential project leaders. 

Free Printing (this information needs to be confirmed with IT department and will be updated here, accordingly)

A limited amount of free printing is available by using the computer lab on the 3rd floor of Shiffman Library. To use the computers in this lab you must acquire your medical school login ID and password. To do this go to the 1st floor Scott Hall, then past the elevators and down the hallway to the left and find the "IT" department. They can help you find out your ID and password.

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October December Year 1

Register for:

ROC 7010: Imaging II - Nuclear Medicine

ROC 7020: The Physics of Radiation Therapy

ROC 7040: Radiation Dosimetry

ROC 7160: Advanced Topics in Medical Physics

Buy textbooks (see official class info for exact textbooks and versions):

ROC 7010: Physics in Nuclear Medicine: Cherry

3rd Edition ISBN: 072168341X

4th Edition ISBN: 1416051988

This text has not been required in previous years.  However, please verify with Dr. Muzik

if it is required.

ROC 7020: The Physics of Radiation Therapy: Khan (ISBN: 0781788560)

ROC 7040: Radiation Physics for Medical Physicists: Podgorsak (ISBN: 3319253808)

                Same text as used in ROC 5010

 7040 Coursepack (please check the syllabus for information on where to get this coursepack)

ROC 7160: Advanced Topics in Medical Physics

This course is continually developed each year. Textbooks were not required previously but check with the current instructor as to any required textbooks.      

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January Year 1

Plan of Work

Submit plan of work to receive candidacy status. If you do not do this by the summer term, you will have a hold placed on your account. Go to the department website to find an example plan of work.  Courses must be listed in chronological order.  If you are taking courses full time you can just download the example form and add the term and year that you took each course.

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February March Year 1

Register for:

ROC 7130: Nuclear Medicine Lab

ROC 7080: Therapy Physics Lab

ROC 7070: Radiation Safety

ROC 7150: Radiation Oncology Anatomy and Physiology

Buy textbooks (see official class info for exact textbooks and versions):

ROC 7130: Nuclear Medicine Lab

                No text.

ROC 7080: Therapy Physics Lab

                No text.

ROC 7070: Radiation Safety

                No text.

ROC 7150: ROC 7150: Radiation Oncology Anatomy and Physiology

                See syllabus.

ABR Exam

                Make sure you have received notification (by mail) of acceptance to take your board exam.

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May July Year 1

ABR Exam

Reserve a seat at a testing center to take the exam.  You should have received a letter letting you know the exact date you can reserve a spot. Register as soon as the online system opens!!! In previous years students have had to go as far as Chicago to take the exam due to nearby centers being full.  The date of the ABR appears to fluctuate from year to year and may be fairly close to the end of your Spring/Summer final exams.  Be sure to take note of the date of the exam compared to when your Spring/Summer classes will be over to allow as much time as possible for studying. 

Masters and PhD Project

Begin speaking to faculty regarding available projects.  Be aware that year to year, project availability varies quite a bit.  Please be patient with staff as they try to develop a suitable project that they can oversee. Also be aware that if your project involves working on one of the linacs, you will need to organize your time around the schedule of the clinic and faculty.  As such, make sure to start as soon as possible.

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August: End of Year 1, Beginning of Year 2

All classes should be done by the end of July.  August is vacation time or time to study and take the ABR Exam, if you are taking it this year.

Register for:

                ROC 7110: Radiation Therapy Treatment Planning

                ROC 7120: Radionuclide Therapy (AKA Physics of Brachytherapy)

                ROC 7890: Seminar

Buy textbooks (see official class info for exact textbooks and versions):

                ROC 7110: Radiation Therapy Treatment Planning

                                Handbook of Treatment Planning in Radiation Oncology: Vassil (ISBN: 1933864524)

                ROC 7120: Radionuclide Therapy

                                See syllabus.

                ROC 7890: Seminar

                                ROC 7890 Course Pack (provided electronically)

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Year 2

MS Exit Exam:

The Exit Exam will be scheduled as a part of ROC 7890 (unless the program director decides otherwise) and will require review of all courses taken during the first year.  You will be required to obtain at least 70% to pass.

PhD Qualifying Exam Part 1:

This portion of the exam consists of a set of 100 multi-part questions from 6 specific subjects (Physics of Radiation Oncology, Physics of Diagnostic Radiology, Physics of Nuclear Medicine, Radiological Physics and Radiation Dosimetry, Radiation Safety and Radiobiology, and Magnetic Resonance and Ultrasound). The questions can be obtained at any point in time from Dr. Burmeister in electronic format. The test itself will contain 6 questions, each a randomly selected question from each section and you are required to answer 4. You must obtain a 50% or higher on each of the answered questions and must obtain an average score of 70% or higher to pass.

PhD Qualifying Exam Part 2:

This portion of the exam also contains 6 multi-part questions, however, the questions are not given ahead of time. The 6 questions are written from 3 specific categories (Diagnostic/Nuclear Medicine Physics, Radiation Therapy Physics/Dosimetry, and Radiation Safety/Radiobiology) with 2 questions written from each category. You are required to answer 4 total questions: 1 question from each of the 3 category and a 4th question for a category of your choice.

PhD Candidacy Status:

Official PhD candidacy status is necessary to take the required dissertation credits for the degree (ROC 9992, 9993, and 9994)*. Requirements to achieve candidacy status are as follows:

  1. Plan of Work submitted to graduate school
  2. 50+ hours of completed coursework
  3. Completion and passing of both PhD Qualifying Exams
  4. Naming of Dissertation Committee
  5. Completion of Prospectus

The forms needed to apply for candidacy can be found on the graduate school website

* Please note that ROC 9991 may be taken before candidacy status is achieved. You must achieve candidacy status by the end of the semester in which 9991 is taken (unless taken in the Winter semester, in which case, candidacy status must be achieved by the end of the Summer semester).

Naming of PhD Dissertation Committee:

The decision of who should serve on your committee should be made with your dissertation advisor, and must meet the following requirements:

  1. You must select a chair or 2 co-chairs for the committee.
  2. There must be 4 members on the committee, or, if there are 2 co-chairs, there must be 5 members in total.
  3. At lease one of the committee members, in addition to the chair, must be from the home department (i.e. hold a graduate faculty appointment).
  4. At least one committee member must be an external member NOT from the home department to allow a broadening of the committee and offer a different perspective.

PhD Prospectus:

This is the proposal for your dissertation research and consists of a written proposal, a public presentation, and a private Q&A session with your committee following the presentation.  Once the written portion is completed, you should fill out the appropriate paperwork found on the graduate school website to obtain candidacy status.  Prior to the presentation, the following should be completed and available for review by your committee so they may sign off:

  1. Copy of written prospectus with "Prospectus and Record of Approval" paperwork
  2. If your dissertation involves human studies, copy of signed IRB approval letter
  3. If your dissertation involves animal studies, IACUC approval is required
  4. "Conflict of Interest" form
  5. "Recommendation for Candidacy Status" form

After your committee signs all of the above forms, it can be submitted to the WSU PhD office for approval.


You must register to graduate at the beginning of the term in which you intend to complete the program coursework, including all didactic coursework, essay project, and seminar presentation.  If you don't complete all requirements for the degree within that term, you will need to register again in the following term. 

To graduate with an MS at the scheduled completion of the program, end of the Winter Semester of your 2nd year, you must apply for graduation by the end of the 4th week of classes in the Winter Semester.  This usually corresponds to the end of the first full week of February.  The deadline can sneak up on you if you are not paying attention, so be sure you stay on top of this if you want to graduate and get your degree during the Spring Commencement of your second year.  You can apply to graduate in Pipeline under the Student tab.  It only takes a few minutes to verify the correct spelling of your name and the program you are graduating from.  There is a $40 fee to apply.  If you do miss the deadline for Winter graduation, you can apply for Spring/Summer graduation and still walk during the Spring Commencement.

Graduation and commencement information is listed at http://commencement.wayne.edu/graduation.php

Once you have graduated, email Mary Cerulla and ask her to move you from the student email list to the alumni email list. 

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Online Groups:

Students of previous years have found it beneficial to create group online in which all students of the current year can join in order to discuss classes and ask questions as well as get to know each other better.  Facebook has the easiest way to create an online group but Google+ as well as YahooGroups are also available for those that know how to navigate them.

Financial Aid:

Be sure to apply for financial aid if necessary via Pipeline and through SallyMae. One thing of which you will need to be aware is that the school assumes a student will be taking only 8 units in the Fall, 8 units in the Winter, and 2 units for the Spring/Summer semester.  Since these are not accurate for the courses you will be taking, you will need to request and increase in the amount of the loan given.  To do so, once you have the accepted the initial loan offer, you'll need to fill out the Budget Adjustment Request form available on the Financial Aid's website.  Check the box labeled "Other" and then attach a letter to the form describing your request for an increase based on the assumed units and your actual units.

Scholarships and Grants:

The options are fairly limited for graduate students when it comes to scholarships but always keep an eye out for any that can help pay for your tuition.  One major scholarship that is offered every year for WSU graduate students is called the Graduate Professional Scholarship and provides scholarships of up to 10 units of tuition for Fall and Winter semesters. The deadline for this scholarship is usually the first week of March and is highly competitive (in 2014, there were 700 applicants and only 240 scholarships were awarded).

Shiffman Library:

Located on the corner of Canfield and Brush, the Shiffman Library is available to all Medical Physics students.  In addition to the general quiet study area, there are study rooms that you can reserve within the Shiffman Library for study sessions.  Most rooms have a desk and 4 chairs but there are two rooms big enough for 12 people (Room 127 and 132). Reserve your rooms here.  From there you can reserve the time/date you need in 4 hour blocks.


The annual AAPM meeting occurs during the summer usually in either late July or early August.  If possible, it is highly recommended to go to these meetings as they can be a great opportunity to meet other members of the field as well as learn more about the field through the many presentations given throughout the day. If you do decide to go, make sure to book your hotel early as rooms will fill up quickly.  Also, to ease the financial burden, it might be easier to have a number of people in one hotel room as the rooms themselves can be quite pricy.

Our program has a "Graduate Student Research Award" that funds one student (selected by a committee comprising alumni/faculty) each year to travel to AAPM annual meeting for presenting their research and receiving their award at the WSU Alumni Gathering.


There are two internships that have been created by the faculty that allow students to gain some clinical experience within the ROC.  The signups for each will be given out well in advance but it is highly recommended that you sign up and make room in your schedule as they will offer you real world experience into the Medical Physics field without taking up too much of your time.

NOTE: The two internships are under review at this moment. Please check with faculty for latest information.

Patient IMRT QA Internship:

For this internship, the student signs up for a two month block in which a total of 3 students will come in to perform IMRT QA on Monday and Thursday evenings.  The amount of time you will spend during those days will vary based on case load.  However, as the actual QA procedure requires use of the linac on which the IMRT will performed, you will not have access to the machines until the end of the day (about 4:00 PM). The first block will begin after the ABR (most likely in August but may vary depending on scheduling) and students will rotate out after their two month block has been completed.

Clinical Internship:

Here, the student will rotate through 5 different modules coming into the clinic one day per week for a few hours.  Each module involves different aspects of the Medical Physics field and allows the student to obtain hands on and observational experience:

Treatment Unit: simply observe the Therapists perform radiation treatments on patients

Treatment Planning: allows the student to work within Eclipse and plan out a treatment using fake patient data

Sim/4DCT: observe the procedure for patient undergoing CT scans that will used for Treatment Planning purposes

Chart Checks: with a resident or faculty member, the student will work through specific portions of a patients electronic chart to verify accuracy of the treatment plan and doses to the patient

Special Procedures: Observe procedures that are not performed on a regular basis such as HDR, Gamma Knife, or LDR implants.


Med Phys Listserver:

You should consider joining the MedPhys and MedPhysUSA Listservers as they not only host valuable medical physics discussion topics but also potential job opportunities.  MedPhys is the global medical physics listserver and MedPhysUSA is intended to be a supplement to MedPhys and provides a forum for domestic issues.  The listserver resides here at Wayne State University, and is a donated resource of the university.  It is *not* affiliated with the AAPM or any other society in any way, although the majority of subscribers are AAPM members.  You can subscribe to either or both by emailing the command "subscribe MedPhys" and/or "subscribe MedPhysUSA" to LISTSERV@lists.wayne.edu.  Once subscribed, instructions for use will be emailed to you.

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How to get into the building


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Division of Radiation Oncology