Radiological Health Sciences

Radiological Health Sciences Physics Concentration

Radiation Protection or “Health Physics” is the profession dedicated to the protection of humans and their environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation while providing for its beneficial uses. Health physics is a profession involving many disciplines. It has common scientific interests with many areas of specialization: physics, biology, biophysics, engineering (nuclear, civil, mechanical, and electrical), chemistry, genetics, ecology, environmental sciences, metallurgy, meteorology, hydrology, medicine, physiology, toxicology, and industrial hygiene. The wide spectrum of knowledge required of the health physicist makes this profession both challenging and rewarding. Radiation protection professionals are found in a variety of organizations and environments. For example, a radiation safety officer within an organization is responsible for the safe use of radiation and radioactive materials as well as regulatory compliance. A trained health physicist evaluates the radiation environment using instruments and calculations and works with regulatory authorities to ensure compliance with radiation exposure standards.

Radiological Health Sciences Pre-Medical Physics Concentration

Medical Physics is the branch of physics or biophysics that is associated with the application of radiation physics in medicine at a clinic, hospital, private practice, or university. It includes the fields of diagnostic radiological physics, medical health physics, and medical nuclear radiological physics and therapeutic radiological physics. Practicing medical physicists must have a graduate degree from an accredited program. Purdue’s program is CAMPEP accredited and has had excellent success in placing graduates into well-paying jobs and residencies.

  • Diagnostic radiological physics deals with the diagnostic application and safe use of x rays, gamma rays from sealed sources, ultrasonic radiation, radio frequency radiation, and magnetic fields used primarily in diagnostic radiology and cardiology and to a lesser extent in other areas of medicine.
  • Medical health physics deals with the safe use of x rays, gamma rays, electron or other charged particle beams, neutrons, radionuclides, radiopharmaceuticals, and radiation from sealed radionuclide sources for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes in patients and human research subjects. Medical health physicists interact with physicists from other fields of medical physics and with physicians, technologists, nurses, and other personnel in branches of medicine that utilize radiation in patient care and research.
  • Medical nuclear radiological physics deals with the diagnostic and therapeutic application and safe use of radiopharmaceuticals primarily in nuclear medicine (sometimes called molecular imaging) and endocrinology.
  • Therapeutic radiological physics deals with the therapeutic application and safe use of x rays, gamma rays, electron or other charged particle beams, neutrons, and radiation from sealed radionuclide sources used primarily in the treatment of cancer.

Potential Job Titles

  • Health Physicist
  • Medical Physicist
  • Radiation Safety Officer
  • Radiation Safety Specialist
  • Imaging Scientist
  • Dosimetrist
  • Radiation Scientist

Experiential Learning

  • Participate in a simulated emergency drill: involving radioactive materials in Radiation Science Fundamentals or at the Purdue research reactor.
  • Participate in on-the job learning of health or medical physics at any of our internship sites which include prominent industrial, academic and medical institutions.
    • Purdue REM
    • Landauer
    • Eli Lilly
    • Exelon
    • Indiana University Hospital
    • NRC
    • Nuclear Power Plants
  • Learn and apply radiation fundamentals by working with faculty on independent research projects.

Potential Graduate School Options

  • Medical Physics
  • Health Physics
  • Medical Imaging
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Nuclear Engineering

Sample Degree Requirements & Plan of Study

Radiological Health Pre-Med Physics (RHMP) 4 + 1 Graduate Program

Students that successfully complete the RHMP Pre-Medical Physics program are eligible to apply for entry into the School of Health Science's accelerated (1 year) M.S. or a Ph.D. in Medical Physics.

Completion of the undergraduate "Pre-Medical Physics" Radiological Health major at Purdue University is required.  This program is for academically outstanding students who have excelled in the RHMP program and who are looking for a "fast track" for earning their Master of Science degree.

How do I switch my major?

If you are interested in switching your major to Environtmental Health Sciences, please visit the Change of Degree Objective (CODO) page to learn more about the process to enter the College of Health & Human Sciences.

How do I transfer to Purdue?

If you are interested in transferring to Environmental Health Sciences from another college or university, please visit the Future Transfer Students page to learn more about the steps needed to finish your degree at Purdue University.

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