Who is a medical physicist?

5 July 2015

By Prof Dr KH Ng ( PhD, MIPEM, DABMP)

Medical physics involves the application of physics and engineering to medicine and health. Medical physicists work closely with medical doctors and are employed in universities, medical schools, hospitals and medical research institutes.

Areas of Specialisation

1. Medical imaging (X-ray, computed tomography, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear medicine)
2. Radiation oncology or radiotherapy (treatment of cancer with various kinds of radiation
3. Medical Health Physics (protection of workers and patients from radiation – both ionizing radiation, like x-rays, and non-ionizing radiation, like lasers and radio wave)

Typical Professional Training for Medical Physics includes:


  • B.Sc. in physics or engineering or closely-related field
  • M. Sc. or Ph.D. in Medical Physics
  • Three or more years of clinical or hospital training


The essential responsibility of a Medical Physicist’s clinical practice is to assure the optimum use of radiation to produce a stated diagnostic or therapeutic outcome.

This responsibility includes:

1. Protection of the patient and others from potentially harmful or excessive radiation
2. Establishment of adequate protocols to ensure accurate patient dosimetry
3. The measurement and characterisation of radiation
4. The specification of dose delivered
5. The development and direction of quality assurance programs
6. Assistance to the medical doctors in optimising the balance between the beneficial and deleterious effects of radiation.

More Information

Further information on medical physics and the professional activities of medical physicists are available at:

The International Organization for Medical Physics (IOMP)

The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM)

The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM)