If someone is interested in medicine and also in physics and they like working with people and communicate well with others, I would strongly encourage them.
I have devoted much time and energy to helping medical physics in developing countries.
Medical physicists work in cooperation with doctors. A few medical physicists devote their time to research and teaching. A few get involved with administrative duties.
There are now over 5,000 medical physicists in the U.S more than 50 times the number in 1958.
I don't display my plaques and honors. They are hidden behind a black curtain in my work room at home.
I found collaborating with congenial doctors about problems that physicists could help solve was very satisfying. I also like educating anybody who would listen!
Nuclear physics is interesting but it is unlikely to help society.
I am sure that I have been much more useful to society as a medical physicist.
I have the satisfaction of knowing I did something useful for society.
Most medical physicists work in the physics of radiation oncology making sure that the desired dose is given to the cancer and the dose to normal tissues are minimized.
I am now almost certain that we need more radiation for better health.
In 1970 I realized that there was negligible risk from x-rays but many radiographs had poor image quality so that the risk from a false negative was significant.
Many Nobel Prizes are awaiting good research to understand and explain the many mysteries of our bodies, such as the basic mechanism of memory or imagination.
When I entered the field in July 1958 I believed what they told me about radiation risks. I spent much effort reducing the dose to patients in radiology.
The growth of technology is such that it is not possible today for a nuclear physicist to switch into medical physics without training. The field is now much more technical. More training is needed to do the job.