Physics Residency

Radiation Oncology

Department faculty physicists and residents

The MUSC Radiation Oncology Physics Residency Program is a two-year CAMPEP accredited program that accepts one resident per year. The radiation oncology department currently has seven medical residents and two physics residents all training on a broad variety of state-of-the-art equipment. Our physics residents and graduates who have taken ABR Part II and Part III exams have all passed on their first attempt. Our graduates have pursued their goals of working in medical universities or community-based settings. The information provided in the following pages and on our departmental website provides an informative overview of our program. If you have any questions, please contact Jean Peng, Ph.D., at pengl@musc.edu or Daniel McDonald, MS, at mcdonad@musc.edu.

History

The first board certified radiation oncologist came to MUSC in 1968 and in 1976 the first radiation oncology medical resident began his training. The medical residency program has grown to six residents. In 2007, MUHA was awarded a $10,000 start-up grant for a medical physics residency program in radiation oncology. This grant was the catalyst for the efforts of the radiation oncology department chairman and the director of physics to create a physics residency program adding a dynamic synergy with a successful medical residency in existence since 1976. The Department of Radiation Oncology matriculated its first physics resident on July 1, 2008 and was accredited by CAMPEP on September 29, 2011. Our physics residency program is accredited by CAMPEP through December 31, 2020

Physics Residency Structure (Basic Structure)

The Radiation Oncology Medical Physics residency program is a part of the Department of Radiation Oncology in the College of Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). The Medical University Hospital Authority (MUHA) advances the clinical mission through support of the facility, equipment, and technical staff (radiation therapists, dosimetrists, nurses, and hospital clerical staff). The professional and academic components are under MUSC. The department’s seven radiation oncologists and eight medical physicists are medical school faculty. MUHA and the Department of Radiation Oncology provide the funding for all radiation oncology residents, including the two physics positions in this program. There is one opening in the physics residency program each year with a start date of July 1. The Radiation Oncology Medical Physics Residency is a companion program to the Radiation Oncology Medical Residency. Currently, the medical residency program is approved for seven total positions. The physics residents also interface with the Department of Radiology physics faculty and the Radiation Safety Office. The physics residents attend didactic lectures with medical residents in radiobiology, radiation oncology physics, and imaging physics.

The Department of Radiation Oncology is a part of the interdepartmental collaborative oncology group within the Hollings Cancer Center, a National Cancer Center Institute (NCI) Designated Cancer Center since 2009. As a part of their interprofessional training, the physics residents attend various multi-disciplinary tumor boards at Hollings Cancer Center, creating opportunities to observe and directly interact with neurosurgeons, urologists, and other medical specialists.

Physics Faculty Structure

Physics faculty in front of medical device

The Radiation Oncology Medical Physics section includes the Director of Medical Physics plus seven additional physics faculty members. The Director of Medical Physics is responsible for the technical direction of the five medical dosimetrists who are employees of the Medical University Hospital Authority (MUHA) and the direct supervisor of other physicists. Jean Peng, Ph.D. has been appointed by the Radiation Oncology Department Chairman and Radiation Oncology Physics Residency Program Committee to develop and direct the physics residency program as its program director. Dan McDonald, M.S. is the associate program director.

Radiation Oncology Physics Residency Program Committee

A Radiation Oncology Physics Residency Program Committee (aka the Program Committee) consists of the radiation oncology physics faculty, a certified medical dosimetrist, and a radiation oncologist. The committee evaluates the program on a bi-annual basis, approves any significant changes in curriculum or procedures, reviews resident performance and approves plans for remedial training, if needed. The committee members, along with the department chairman, serve on the Selection Committee. Minutes of the Committee meeting are kept on file.

Department physicists

Department physicians

Physics Residency Rotation Primary Objectives

Providers looking at monitor

Below are the primary objectives of each rotation cycle. In addition, resident specific objectives are assigned that extend the rotation’s primary objectives but are specifically tailored to the experience base and skills of the individual resident. The residents continue to build clinical experience through increasing participation in daily clinical functions.

Overview & Safety (4 weeks)

  • Participate in MUSC and graduate medical education (GME) resident orientation and complete all prerequisite training.
  • Become familiar with radiation oncology equipment, processes, procedures, and operations at MUSC.
  • Become acquainted with faculty and staff.
  • Become familiar with the responsibilities of the Radiation Safety Department.
  • Develop didactic knowledge of regulations pertaining to radiation oncology.

Basic Treatment Planning (12 weeks)

  • Learn the external beam treatment planning software and the treatment planning process including treatment planning strategies, prescription doeses and limiting doses to critical structures.
  • Be able to plan 3D conformal cases and understand basic steps of IMRT planning. Areas of focus include CT simulation, treatment planning system operation and planning experiences/techniques, electron and photon block fabrication, plan evaluation tools, manual and computerized MU calculations, digital DICOM files importing and exporting, patient setup imaging guidance, billing and quality check list.

Equipment QA & Performance Testing (14 weeks)

  • Thoroughly understand and perform Quality Assurance testing on physics measurement equipment, imaging equipment and treatment equipment. Treatment equipment covered during this rotation includes conventional linear accelerators and TomoTherapy.
  • Brachytherapy and Gamma Knife equipment will be covered in separate rotations.

Brachytherapy (12 weeks)

  • Become familiar with all Brachytherapy procedures at MUSC.
  • Understand basic brachytherapy principles.
  • Be able to calibrate Brachytherapy sources.
  • Be able to plan Brachytherapy procedures.
  • Become knowledgeable about Brachytherapy QMP.
  • Become knowledgeable about pertinent radiation safety regulations.
  • Become familiar with various Brachytherapy references.

Radiation Measurements (15 weeks)

  • Gain a working knowledge and familiarity of the various types of radiation detectors and scanning equipment for linear accelerators.
  • Begin a collection of beam data for the commissioning of a treatment planning system during Rotation VI.

Residents examine instrument

Treatment Planning System Commissioning (15 weeks)

  • Thoroughly understand the process of commissioning a new treatment planning system (Eclipse) for clinical use with a traditional linear accelerator. This includes collection of necessary data, creation of beam model and validation.

Advanced Treatment Planning (16 weeks)

  • Increase knowledge of intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), conformal arc and volume modulated radiotherapy (VMAT) treatment planning techniques.
  • Become familiar with Tomotherapy treatment planning and optimization parameters.
  • Learn how to compare and evaluate the optimal planning techniques among IMRT, VMAT and Tomotherapy in variable cases.
  • To become proficient in hypo-fractionated stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) CT simulation applied 4D-CT scanning and planning including technique selections (3D, IMRT, conformal Arc or VMAT), margin definition and plan evaluation.

External Beam Special Procedures (10 weeks) 

  • Know and perform all QA and physics-related treatment procedures used with the Gamma Knife Perfexion and Linac-based SRS.
  • Knowledgeable in contemporary methods used to deliver total body irradiation (TBI) and demonstrated competency in performing annual QA of TBI equipment and devices.
  • Knowledgeable in contemporary methods and practical aspects used to deliver Total Skin Electron Irradiation (TSEI).
  • Provide and defend your recommendations for motion management given realistic patient scenarios.
  • Knowledgeable in the benefits and limitations of patient alignment and monitoring using real-time 3D surface matching.
  • Demonstrate the ability to perform all QA for a 3D surface imaging system.
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the algorithms available in commercial systems used to register image datasets both rigidly and non-rigidly, in particular the benefits and limitations of each.

Shield, Licensing, & Administrative (6 weeks) 

  • One goal of this rotation is to be familiar with the issues involved in designing a radiation oncology department. This includes designing structural shielding for beam radiotherapy, HDR brachytherapy, Gamma Knife and other relevant situations. The resident will also learn how to perform a facility radiation shielding survey.
  • In addtion, this rotation covers professional issues in radiation oncology physics. This includes ethics, professionalism and the role of the physicists in audits and accreditation.

Program Goals & Expectations for Residents

Program Objectives

Provider using medical device

The Radiation Oncology Physics Residency Program at MUSC is a two-year comprehensive post-graduate program whose aims are to provide clinical training and experience in radiation oncology physics, to prepare the resident for ABR certification and to practice radiation oncology physics independently. The program is designed to meet the standards recommended by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs (CAMPEP). The knowledge and skills the resident will attain during residency training include:

  • The technical knowledge and skills related to the sophisticated technologies used in the practice of radiation oncology medical physics;
  • A critical awareness and evaluation of research and scholarship in the field;
  • An understanding of the protocols and practices essential to the deployment of technologies to detect, diagnose and treat various illnesses and injuries;
  • The ability to use analytical and research methods to solve problems arising in the clinical environment;
  • The professional attributes and the ethical conduct and actions that are required of medical physicists;
  • The communication and interpersonal skills that are necessary to function in a collaborative environment;
  • An awareness of the complexity of knowledge in the field and receptiveness to other interpretations, new knowledge, and different approaches to solving problems;
  • An awareness of the need for confidentiality of patient information and familiarity with relevant regulations;
  • An appreciation of the clinical purpose and applications of sophisticated technologies;
  • The acknowledgement of the role of medical physicists in a clinical environment in which physicians, nurses, technologists and others work in cooperation;
  • The sensitivity to potential hazards that residents may encounter and appropriate measures to take to prevent risks to themselves and equipment;
  • The recognition and correction of suboptimal application or unsafe use of technologies;
  • The commitment to continued education so that practice knowledge and skills remain current.

Completion Requirements

The resident is expected to satisfactorily complete all nine clinical rotations and any special projects within a 24-month period. Completion of a rotation consists of accomplishing all rotation objectives with a satisfactory rating from the chief rotation mentor, the program director, and receiving a satisfactory rating on the rotation oral examination. A rating of unsatisfactory by two or more oral examiners will result in failure of the oral exam necessitating a repeat examination for that rotation. Failure of the second oral examination will be cause for remedial training and assignments. The resident will be given a third opportunity to pass the oral examination. Failure on the third attempt will result in termination from the program. Should the educational objectives of the program be delayed due to extended medical leave or other circumstances that may take time away from the program, the resident may be required to extend their residency beyond 24 months in order to successfully complete the program. The duration of the extension and the specific completion requirements will be determined by the program director on a case-by-case basis and approved by the Physics Residency Program Committee. Due to limited funding, the required extension time may be without pay. Exit or termination from the program without successful completion of all requirement or prior to 24 months after the start of the program is unsatisfactory and a certificate of training completion will not be awarded.

Procedures for addressing deficiencies and termination from the program are discussed separately.

Residents and faculty in classroom

Additional Training Requirements for Program Completion

  • Ethics and Professional Training
    • CAMPEP requires the completion of ethics and professionalism training. In order to meet this requirement, the MUSC physics resident is required to complete the ABR/ACR/RSNA/AAPM/ASTRO/ARR/ARS Online Modules on Ethics and Professionalism. All modules shall be completed prior to end of the first rotation and a certification of completion for each module shall be provided to the Physics Residency Program Director.
  • Diagnostic Imaging Physics Training
    • In order to insure a fundamental knowledge of imaging physics, the MUSC physics resident is also required to complete the RSNA/AAPM Physics Education Modules. All modules shall be completed prior to end of the first year and a certification of completion for each module shall be provided to the Physics Residency Program Director.
  • Didactic Training
    • Physics residents attend the formal medical resident lectures in radiobiology and radiation oncology physics. They also take the RAPHEX examination. During their second year of residency, the resident presents at least two of the radiation oncology physics lectures. The resident is expected to attend all lectures unless superseded (with approval of the Program Director) by a special clinical procedure or approved leave.
  • Daily Morning Rounds
    • Each morning from 8:00am to 9:00am, the physics resident meets with the medical residents and various faculty members for morning rounds. Morning rounds consist of a variety of venues including journal club, special topics, chart rounds, and guest lecturers. Periodically, special procedures may take priority over morning rounds, but not on a frequent basis. Attendance is mandatory unless superseded (with approval of the Program Director) by a special clinical procedure or approved leave.
  • Tumor Boards, Seminars, Special Topics
    • Physics residents attend various multi-disciplinary tumor boards throughout their training. In addition, they participate in periodic seminars and special topics sessions. Residents are expected to attend at least two sessions each of the Head & Neck, Thoracic, GYN, Pediatric, Neurosurgery, Breast, and GU tumor boards. The Melanoma and Leukemia Tumor Boards are optional. Residents log each of these activities.
  • Optional Research
    • Challenges that often arise in the clinic as well as projects related to new technology are potential research projects for residents. The chief rotation mentor determines if any projects are applicable to the individual resident based on the individual resident’s knowledge, motivation, and ability to successfully complete the project while simultaneously meeting all of the basic and special rotation objectives. If the resident is having difficulty with the basic objectives of the rotation, the chief rotation mentor will not assign any additional projects that may further hinder the successful completion of the rotation’s core objectives.
    • Residents are encouraged to present their research findings at chapter or national AAPM conferences. Costs may be covered by funds from the department or the resident's educational expense account. 
  • Clinical Training and Practical Experience
    • As previously stated, the physics resident rotates through all nine focused rotations. Each rotation has a chief mentor who is responsible for coordinating the resident’s activities during that rotation towards meeting all rotation objectives and acquiring valuable clinical experience. There may be occasions when the resident will be asked to participate in a procedure outside the focused rotation in order to gain opportunistic experience in a specific area, so long as the primary rotation focus is not compromised. The resident keeps a log of the clinical procedures they have performed. These procedures are recorded under the applicable rotation as well as their general ledger. Each rotation has rotation objectives, specific tasks, conferences, and reading assignments. Some reading assignments are for general familiarity while others require a more detailed study. The reading assignments serve to familiarize the resident with various resources as well as to increase their professional knowledge. The resident works closely with the rotation’s chief mentor and meets at least monthly with the program director to discuss their progress in the residency program and address any potential problems or deficiencies.
  • Professional Knowledge
    • During the course of the residency training, the resident is expected to become familiar with all applicable AAPM Task Group Reports as well as major textbooks and references. Many of these are listed in the description of the rotation, but the resident is expected to search the literature and review current issues of Medical Physics, the Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics, the physics section of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology and Physics, and Physics in Medicine and Biology. The resident is expected to take the RAPHEX exam with the medical residents as well as Part 1 of the American Board of Radiology examination in addition to Part 2, if qualified according to ABR guidelines.
  • Professional Conduct
    • Physics residents are expected to conduct themselves professionally at all times. This includes maintaining a professional appearance and conducting themselves in a professional manner. The AAPM Code of Ethics is used as the guideline for professional behavior. They are expected to be familiar with this document and adhere to the standards developed and promoted by this professional organization.

      In addition, the guidelines and intent of the ACGME policy on professionalism in the ACGME resident handbook is followed.

Program Changes

Resident performance and completion requirements shall be those in effect at the time the resident enters the program. Improvements and minor changes may be approved by the Physics Residency Committee but shall not extend the overall length of the program.

Certificate of Program Completion

Upon successful completion of all residency program requirements, the resident will be issued a completion certificate attesting to satisfactory completion of the Radiation Oncology Medical Physics Residency Program.

Physics Residency Application & Selection Process

1. MUSC participates in both the AAPM Medical Physics Residency Application Program (MP RAP) and the National Matching Services Medical Physics Matching Program. You must register for both programs to be considered a candidate for our residency program.

2. Complete and submit a Medical Physics Residency Application Program (MP-RAP) to MUSC.

3. Register for the MedPhys Match.

  • MUSC Program ID number: 15911
  • Note: We will not interview applicants who are not registered for the match.

4. Submit the following additional information to the MUSC Physics Residency Director, Dr. Jean Peng (pengl@musc.edu )

  • List of courses remaining to be taken in your graduate academic program.
  • List all courses not completed and shown on your transcript
  • Visa status if not a resident of the United States
  • Additional work history
  • Other supplemental information you wish to provide

5. Any questions should be directed either to Jean Peng, Ph.D. (pengl@musc.edu), program director, or Daniel McDonald, MS (mcdonad@musc.edu), associate program director

Eligibility Requirements

1. Possess an undergraduate physics degree or at least a minor in physics or the courses required by their undergraduate institution for a minor in physics

2. An MS or Ph.D. in medical physics from a CAMPEP accredited academic program
a. Under highly exceptional circumstances, candidates with a doctorate in a closely related field and documented courses in compliance with the following guidelines may be considered

3. Be a U.S. citizen or authorized by the US Government to work in the United States
a. MUSC does not sponsor visas for radiation oncology medical or physics residents

Selection Process

Interview Process

The Medical Physics Residency Selection Committee meets in January to rank all completed applications that were receive from applicants who enrolled in the match program. No more than 25 applicants will be selected for a telephone or video conference interview. Once these interviews have been completed, the committee meets to select no more than 15 candidates for an on-site interview, typically during the months of January and February. Two interview dates will be offered on a first come basis and each date will have a maximum of 10 available openings. Candidates are responsible for paying their own travel, lodging, and meals.

Selection Process

MUSC will rank the candidates who interviewed in Charleston and send the rank list to the National Matching Services. In accordance with the rules of the Medical Physics Matching Program, applicants will also send their rank list to the National Matching Services who will, in turn, implement the match process which is explained in more detail at the MedPhys Match.

After the match has been announced, the match results constitute a binding commitment from which neither the applicant nor the program can withdraw without mutual written consent. MUSC will send a written letter of confirmation of the MedPhys Match result to the applicant within 10 days of the match and the applicant will sign and return the letters of confirmation within 30 days of the release of the match results. At a later date, a formal contract will be sent to the successful candidate from our GME office. All relocation expenses are the responsibility of the successful candidate.

Physicist Residency Statistics

Physics residency statistics
 Year # Applicants # Accepted # Graduated # ABR Certified (year of Graduation)
2008 25 1 N/A 0
2009 33 1 N/A
2010 56 1 1
2011 57 1 1
2012 102 1 0 2 (2010, 2011)
2013 101 1 1
2014 87  1 1
2015 153 1 1 1 (2014)
2016 82 1 1 1 (2015)
2017 90 1 1 1 (2016)
2018 89 1 0 1 (2017)
2019  88 1 1

CAMPEP accredited in 2011 and re-accredited in 2015.

Post-Graduate Positions

Post-Graduate Positions
 Year # in Clinical Positions # in Academic Positions # in Industry # in Other Activities
2010  0 1 0 0
2011 0 1 0 0
2012 0 0 0 1
2013 0 0 0 1
2014 0 1 0 0
2015 1 0 0 0
2016 1 0 0 0
2017 0 1 0 0
2018 0 0 0 0
2019 0 1 0 0
 

Current Residents

Elizabeth Hilliard, MS

Elizabeth Hilliard, MS
BS Physics/Psychology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2015
MS Medical Physics, Louisiana State University, 2018

Broekhoven Bethany

Bethany Broekhoven, MS
BS Physics, Louisiana State University, 2013
MS Medical Physics, Louisiana State University, 2019

Graduated Residents

Joseph G Dise, MMP, DABR
Residency: 2015 to 2017
BS Physics, University of Delaware
MMP, University of Pennsylvania

Mario A. Fugal, MS, DABR
Residency: 2014 to 2016
BS Physics, University of Kentucky Lexington
MS Medical Physics, University of Kentucky Lexington

Andrew G. Ellis, Ph.D., DABR
Residency 2013 to 2015
BS Nuclear Engineering - Radiation Sciences, Univ. of Wisconsin Madison
MS Medical Physics, Univ. of Wisconsin Madison
Ph.D. Medical Physics, Univ. of Wisconsin Madison

Dustin J. Jacqmin, Ph.D.
Residency 2012 to 2014
BS Nuclear Engineering & Engineering Physics, Univ. of Wisconsin Madison
MS Medical Physics, Univ. of Wisconsin Madison
Ph.D. Medical Physics, Univ. of Wisconsin Madison

Katherine M. Lyons Young, MS
Residency 2011 to 2013
BS Physics, Furman University
MS Medical Physics, Vanderbilt University

Caroline L. Yount, MS, DABR
Residency 2009 to 2011
BS Physics, Clemson University
MS Medical Physics, Vanderbilt University

Daniel G. McDonald, MS, DABR
Residency 2008 to 2010
BS Nuclear Engineering, Univ. of Wisconsin Madison
MS Medical Physics, Univ. of Wisconsin Madison 

Facilities

The Department of Radiation Oncology has two physical locations in the Charleston area. In addition, we staff a remote community-based center with a physician and physicist further north. The downtown campus is located in two separate buildings adjacent to each other. 

Located in the main hospital are the faculty offices, three patient exam rooms, a Gamma Knife Perfexion, a Varian TrueBeam STx with a 6 DOF table, OBI with the advanced imaging package, RPM, OSMS. Also in this location is a Varian 600C whose vault also serves as our HDR brachytherapy treatment room.

Next door in Hollings Cancer Center the department has seven exam rooms, a Siemens Somatom Confidence RT Pro dual-energy, wide-bore CT scanner, a large dosimetry/physics planning area, Tomotherapy, and a Varian TrueBeam with a 6 DOF table, RPM and OSMS. The resident workroom is also located in this area.

Approximately 10 miles to the north is our local satellite treatment center with four exam rooms, a Varian TrueBeam with a 6 DOF table and OSMS and another Siemens Somatom Confidence CT scanner. There is also a conference room, dosimetry room, and three faculty offices. 

Finally, approximately 78 miles further north, we provide a radiation oncologist and physicist to the Tidelands Health System in Murrells Inlet, SC. This facility has a Varian TrueBeam accelerator and a Siemens Somatom Confidence CT scanner. Due to the long distance from the main campus, this site is not included in the physics residency program.

Equipment & Software

The Department of Radiation Oncology has a wide variety of modern technology enabling us to treat our patients with leading edge techniques, participate in clinical trials and perform innovative research. Please explore the various options in treatment machines, treatment planning and physics equipment.

Physics QA Equipment & Software

  • IBA Wellhoffer
    • Blue Phantom 2
    • MatriXX2
  • Sun Nuclear
    • MapCheck 2
    • Daily QA3
    • Tomodose
    • 1D Scanner with PC electrometer
    • ArcCheck
  • Landauer MicroStar OSL system 2
  • Mobius DOSELAB, Mobius3D, MobiusFX
  • Various ion chambers, diodes, electrometers
  • MUCheck
  • RIT Film Dosimetry System 6.2

Treatment Planning & Simulation

  • Siemens Somatom Confidence RT Pro CT Simulator
  • Varian Eclipse with RapidPlan 
  • Varian ARIA
  • Tomotherapy Planning with VOLO
  • Elekta GammaPlan
  • Velocity Al
  • Elekta Oncentra brachytherapy
  • Varian Variseed with Bard Quick Link

Treatment Machines & Delivery Systems

  • 3 Varian TrueBeam linear accelerators
    • OBI
    • Advanced imaging package
    • RapidArc
    • Optical surface monitoring system (OSMS)
    • RPM
    • PerfectPitch 6DOF couch tops
    • HDMLC 
  • Varian 600C (dedicated for TBI)
  • Tomotherapy
  • Gamma Knife Perfexion
  • Elekta Flexitron brachytherapy delivery system with advanced CT and MRI-compatible applicators

Animal Irradiator

  • Precision X-Ray X-Rad 320

Life in Charleston

Charleston is a city known for its enchantment and charm, as well as its fascinating beauty, history, and culture. Located on the coast of South Carolina, midway between Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island, Charleston is recognized by Travel and Leisure as one the Top 10 Cities in the United States and has been a favorite vacation and relocation destination.
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