The DKU Medical Physics Program integrates classroom learning with clinical practicum training and scholarship and thesis research projects. These are all important components of a balanced and comprehensive medical physics education.
The program graduates professionals, well prepared in the diverse and in-depth skills of this profession that oversees the safe and effective use of radiation-based and other advanced technologies in medicine and that has invented and continues to invent many of the key technologies in radiation therapy and medical imaging.
The program duration is 21 months, including two Fall semesters, two Spring semesters, and one Summer session.
For all students the first year is at the Duke Kunshan University campus, a beautiful campus located in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province, China. The year-1 courses emphasize a core medical physics curriculum that provides a solid base in the fundamentals of the field. These courses are listed in the table below. Several courses include field trips to hospitals.
· Radiation Physics
· Anatomy and Physiology
· Nuclear Medicine Physics
· Seminars in Medical Physics
· Radiation Therapy Physics
· Radiation Protection
· Modern Diagnostic Imaging Systems
· Radiation Biology
· Seminars in Medical Physics
Notable characteristics of the summer and the second year include clinical practica, advanced courses in specialized topics, and individualized options – such as course electives and thesis or scholarship projects – that address each student’s career goals. During the summer session and subsequent fall semester, students are variously located, some at Duke University in the United States and others at DKU and other intern/research locations in China. During spring semester of year 2 all students are at DKU or at intern/research locations in China.
The purpose of field trips and practicum courses is to expose students to clinical aspects of medical physics through hands-on experience at affiliated hospitals in China and/or the United States. The instructors include medical physicists who have engaged in professional clinical practice at leading hospitals in the United States and China, who guide the students through work with current, widely-utilized and emerging, state-of-the-art clinical procedures and equipment.
In the year-1 nuclear medicine physics course at DKU, students gain field-trip experience with gamma cameras, dose calibrators, and nuclear medicine facilities generally. The year-1 radiation therapy physics course at DKU includes basic experience with the treatment machines and treatment-verification imaging systems used in radiation therapy procedures.
Extensive coverage of clinical methods is provided in a full 3-credit-hour summer practicum course.
Spring semester of year-2, at DKU, includes a clinical practicum that covers IAEA QA protocols and a Special Procedures course that includes clinical field trips to leading hospitals in the Yangtze River Delta Region.
Located on the DKU campus is a state-of-the-art radiation therapy treatment planning system. Treatment planning is one of the most important core skills in medical physics. Training and experience on this system is included as part of practicum course work. In addition, students have the option to pursue further intensive training using this on-campus system, for example as part of a scholarship project. In contrast to treatment planning systems in most US and China hospitals, which generally allow only limited student access, this on-campus treatment planning system is solely for use by students, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Complementing practicum courses and field trips are seminar presentations by medical physicists in the United States and China. Seminar topics include state-of-the-art clinical methods, research into clinical technologies of the future, and developments in and practice of medical physics in China.