Mixed bag on future health physicists

According to a new report by the Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education, the number of college students graduating with majors in health physics — studies related to radiation protection — has increased. But that’s only for bachelor’s degrees. The numbers decreased for master’s and doctoral degrees.

The survey of more than 20 programs showed that 88 students received bachelor’s degrees with majors in health physics in 2013. That was a seven percent increase over the previous year and 37.5 percent higher than 2011. The master’s and doctoral degrees were about 5.5 percent lower than 2012 and similar those reported in 2011.

The top degree programs were at Oregon State, Texas A&M, Idaho State and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.

Undergraduate enrollment in health physics program increased by 10 percent, but graduate programs saw a significant decline.

Darrell Fisher, president of the Health Physics Society, said in a statement there is concern about the “vitality” of the health physics teaching programs at several colleges and universities. “Graduate programs also need to actively recruit from undergraduate talent pool to maintain a critical mass,” he said.

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.