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The Ottawa Medical Physics Institute (OMPI): A Practical Model for Academic Program Collaboration in a Multi-Centre City

M McEwen

M McEwen1*, D Rogers2 , P Johns , (1) National Research Council Canada, Ottawa, ON, (2) Carleton University, Ottawa, ON


MO-DE-BRA-3 (Monday, August 1, 2016) 1:45 PM - 3:45 PM Room: Ballroom A

Purpose: To build a world-class medical physics educational program that capitalizes on expertise distributed over several clinical, government, and academic centres. Few if any of these centres would have the critical mass to solely resource a program.

Methods: In order to enable an academic program, stakeholders from five institutions made a proposal to Carleton University for a) a research network with defined membership requirements and a process for accepting new members, and b) a graduate specialization (MSc and PhD) in medical physics. Both proposals were accepted and the program has grown steadily. Our courses are taught by medical physicists from across the collaboration. Our students have access to physicists in: clinical radiotherapy (the Ottawa Cancer Centre treats 4500 new patients/y), radiology, cardiology and nuclear medicine, Canada’s primary standards dosimetry laboratory, radiobiology, and university-based medical physics research. Our graduate courses emphasize the foundational physics plus applied aspects of imaging, radiotherapy, and radiobiology. Active researchers in the city-wide volunteer-run network are appointed as adjunct professors by Physics, giving them access to national funding competitions and partial student funding through teaching assistantships while opening up facilities in their institutions for student thesis research.

Results: The medical physics network has grown to ~40 members from eight institutions and includes five full-time faculty in Physics and 17 adjunct research professors. The graduate student population is ~20. Our graduates have proceeded to a spectrum of careers. Our alumni list includes a CCPM Past-President, the current COMP President, many clinical physicists, and the heads of at least three major clinical medical physics departments. Our PhD was Ontario’s first CAMPEP-accredited program.

Conclusion: A self-governing volunteer network is the foundational element that enables an MSc/PhD medical physics program in a city with multiple physicist employers. It enriches graduate education with an unusually broad range of expertise.

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