The University of Florida’s Medical Physics Graduate Program has been in continuous existence for 60 years (originating in 1961) and has produced hundreds of Medical Physics graduates over that time. The program received initial accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs (CAMPEP) in November of 2001 and was re-accredited in 2006 and 2011. The program has maintained a relatively constant enrollment of approximately 30 graduate students and a stable cadre of faculty.
The Medical Physics Graduate Program has been a cooperative effort of several departments (Nuclear Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Radiology) in both the College of Medicine and the College of Engineering. This joint effort continues to evolve to allow the program to capitalize on diverse resources to grow strong research programs and optimize clinical training and relevance.
In 1961, the College of Medicine and the College of Engineering jointly sponsored initiation of the medical physics graduate program through the Department of Radiology and the Department of Nuclear Engineering Sciences. The pioneers of Medical Physics in the state of Florida, Drs Lawrence Fitzgerald and Walter Mauderli, while starting the practice of Medial Physics, also saw the importance of educating medical physicists and launched the program under the auspices of the Department of Radiology. The graduate program was initially established as part of a United States Public Health Service sponsored program to train radiation health scientists. In 1966, Dr Emmett Bolch joined the Department of Environmental Engineering and was joined one year later in 1967 by Dr Charles Roessler. Dr Genevieve Roessler subsequently joined the Nuclear Engineering faculty and thus a tri-department program in Medical Health Physics was established (comprised of Environmental Engineering, Nuclear Engineering and Radiology).
Until 1972, the academic home of the Medical Physics program remained in Radiology. In 1972, the Chairman of the Department of Radiology, Dr Clyde Williams, felt that medical physics graduate students should have a more rigorous scientific curriculum than Radiology could offer, and thus, the academic home of the program was transferred to the Department of Nuclear Engineering Sciences.
Although the academic program was administered through the College of Engineering, clinical physics faculty involvement and student activity in the clinical environment, continued in the College of Medicine.
In the late 1970’s a clear functional separation developed between diagnostic radiology and radiation therapy, which was consistent with the professional distinction that was evolving in these clinical areas.
In 1986, Radiation Oncology became a separate department under the direction of Dr Rod Million, and thus the Medical Physics program became a joint program of three departments: Radiology, Radiation Oncology, and Nuclear Engineering Sciences (which continued to serve as the program’s academic home).
In 1995, the Department of Nuclear Engineering Sciences changed its name to the Department of Nuclear and Radiological Engineering to more accurately reflect the department’s areas of emphasis.
In 2010, the faculty and administration of the College of Engineering proposed that the continued development and advancement of the Medical Physics Graduate Program’s goals could best be achieved by moving the academic home of the program to the J Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering. Effective May 2011, three medical physics faculty transferred their tenure home from Nuclear and Radiological Engineering to the Department of Biomedical Engineering, which subsequently became the program’s administrative home under the leadership of Dr David Hintenlang.
In 2017, upon the departure of Dr Hintenlang, Dr Manuel Arreola, Vice Chair of Medical Physics in the Department of Radiology, assumed the role of Medical Physics Graduate Program Director and the program was both academically and administratively transitioned back to the College of Medicine.
The University of Florida’s Medical Physics Graduate Program has developed into what we believe to be an academic program that provides an excellent balance of clinical and research experience to its hundreds of graduates, many of whom have gone on to become recognized leaders in the field. The medical physics faculty recognizes that, in today’s dynamic health care and university systems, it is necessary for the program to continue to evolve and adapt to a changing environment. Continuing CAMPEP accreditation of the program provides an excellent independent review regarding the future evolution of the University of Florida’s Medical Physics Graduate Program.