New UPEI physics program could give students 'step up' in health-care field

This fall students in the UPEI physics department will have an opportunity to specialize in medical and biological physics through a new program.

Medical and biological physics specialization program builds on existing biomedical physics minor

UPEI will be offering a new medical and biological physics specialization program in the fall of 2018 (Stephanie Brown/CBC)

Students in the UPEI physics department this fall will have an opportunity to specialize in medical and biological physics through a new program.

Bill Whelan, chair of the physics department at the university, says the program builds on a biomedical physics minor that has been available to students, and will continue to be offered.

He said physics is gaining recognition as a discipline and degree that is useful for many different professions.

"Physics is being recognized now as a strong foundational degree for any career path a student is interested in whether it's medicine, law, finance, journalism, a lot of folks are getting a physics degree."

Student demand

Whelan said the specialization program will give an advantage to students looking to enter the health-care field. 

"Students interested in human medicine, veterinary medicine, interested in optometry, in dentistry, in radiography, all of those fields have technology that at its core are basically physics machines, and a good understanding of physics would really really give these folks a step up in terms of their careers."

Whelan said developing the program occurred because of student demand and the physics department having the right personnel and expertise to offer the specialization. 

'Good core group'

"We have two bio-physicists, that are interested in biological physics, I'm a medical physicist and we have two experimentalists, broad-based physics experimentalists who have been working recently and also in the past in areas of medical physics and biological physics," he said.

"So we've got a good core group of individuals with expertise in the department that can deliver on a program like this. We have great partners in other departments on campus as well."

He said the physics department will be working with the School of Sustainable Design Engineering so the university can "provide more value to that program, specifically for students who are interested in biomedical engineering."

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