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Applications of Physics: Health Physics

Ionizing radiation can be of great benefit from treating cancer to generating electrical power. But when used in an unsafe way, ionizing radiation can be harmful. The potential for unnecessary irradiation of people or environmental contamination must be minimized as we engage in activities involving nuclear reactors, nuclear weapons, high-energy particle accelerators, x-ray machines, and radionuclides used in biomedical research and therapy.

Industries, medical facilities, defense plants, and research laboratories employ professionals who understand radiation hazards and their prevention and control. The health physicist safeguards the beneficial use of ionizing radiation, protecting workers and the public from potential hazards. The health physics profession is diverse, interesting and rewarding.

For more information: http://hps.org/publicinformation/hpcareers.html

Recommended Health Physics electives

G 107 Physical Systems of the Environment†
E 272 Introduction to Environmental Sciences (SPEA)*†
P 314 Introduction to Medical Physics
P 371 Radiation Science Fundamentals
P 301 Modern Physics
P 309 Modern Physics Lab
P 310 Environmental Physics†
E 311 Introduction to Risk Assessment and Risk Communication*
H 316 Environmental Health and Sciences (SPEA)*
E 324 Controversies in Environmental Health*
E 410 Introduction to Environment Toxicology*
P 451 Experiments in Modern Physics
P 478 Radiation Biology
P 472 Radiation Oncology Physics
P 410 Computing Applications in Physics
M 480 Molecular Biology of Cancer
S 320 Introduction to Statistics
H 455 Radiological Hazard Management*†
E 452 Solid and Hazardous Waste Management*†
C 460 Nuclear Chemistry

*Satisfies a requirement for a minor in Environmental Science and Health
(Requires 5 courses including E272 and H316)

† Satisfies a requirement for a certificate in Environmental Studies
(Also requires L350, ECON-E 201, ECON-E 202, E363)

Career opportunities

With a BS in Physics with a concentration in applied physics

  • Research
  • Industry
  • education/academia
  • environmental protection
  • enforcement of government regulations

For useful career information, see the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.