Medical Physics comes to Kettering

Oct 5, 2009

Kettering University alumnus Victor Hosfeld '05 will be walking the halls again this term, but this time he'll be giving the lessons in the first Medical Physics course offered on campus.

In 2005 Kettering alumnus Victor D. Hosfeld didn’t know he would be walking the halls of Kettering’s Academic Building carrying textbooks again within four years of graduating. But this time, instead of turning in homework and taking tests, he’ll be correcting the homework and giving the tests.

Hosfeld is returning to campus to teach a new course for the Physics Department – Medical Physics. Currently a medical physicist at the Mid-Michigan Medical Center in Midland, Mich., Hosfeld agreed to teach the first Medical Physics course to jump-start an effort to establish a minor in Medical Physics, according to Dr. Bahram Roughani, chair of the Physics Department.

Hosfeld was pretty far along in his academic career when Roughani, lecturing on the scope of careers for Physicists, mentioned Medical Physics.  What attracted Hosfeld to this field of Physics was “it is a much more applied area of Physics. On a day-to-day basis I get to work with people in clinical environments, for example, in treating cancer patients,” he said.

In his role as lead physicist for stereotactic body radiosurgery, Hosfeld works with physicians to develop treatment plans for patients undergoing radiation therapy. Specifically, he develops strategies for treatment delivery including how many radiation beams to use and in what geometry to place them to ensure the cancer is irradiated and that critical organs surrounding, and adjacent to the cancer, are preserved.

“In the past 10 years this field has evolved very quickly,” said Hosfeld, “today we are able to deliver increased therapeutic doses of radiation, with accuracy and precision that was previously unimaginable.”

Hosfeld’s involvement with his alma mater started when he joined the industrial advisory board for the Physics Department. “I had stayed in touch with Dr. Roughani since graduating,” he said, “and as a member of the advisory board I knew the Physics Department was trying to diversify the curriculum. Medical Physics is an area of high demand with the technology evolving daily, but it is not an area that is as well known in Physics. Dr. Roughani and I thought this would be a good opportunity for Kettering to expand its Physics curriculum,” he added.

Hosfeld is concerned that some students may think the new course will be very abstract and include “complicated math or be hard to handle.” He said nothing could be farther from the truth, saying that it will simply offer a new way to apply the physics and mathematics they are already familiar with.

No stranger to teaching, Hosfeld, who earned a dual bachelor’s degree at Kettering in Applied Physics and Mechanical Engineering and his master’s degree in Medical Physics from Duke University, lectures on radiation oncology to nursing students, at the Mid-Michigan Medical Center. “It is the first time I’ve taught a course from start to finish, however,” he said. “I like being in an academic environment, there is a certain kind of energy on a college campus that I enjoy.”

According to the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), Medical Physics is an applied branch of physics concerned with the application of the concepts and methods of physics to the diagnosis and treatment of human disease. It is allied with medical electronics, bioengineering, and health physics.

Medical physicists contribute to the effectiveness of radiological imaging procedures by assuring radiation safety and helping to develop improved imaging techniques (e.g., mammography CT, MR, ultrasound). They contribute to development of therapeutic techniques (e.g., prostate implants, stereotactic radiosurgery), collaborate with radiation oncologists to design treatment plans, and monitor equipment and procedures to ensure that cancer patients receive the prescribed dose of radiation to the correct location.

For more information about the Medical Physics course at Kettering or the plans for a minor in Medical Phhysics, contact Dr. Bahram Roughani at broughan@kettering.edu. For more information about the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, visit their web site at www.aapm.org.