Improving Health Through Medical Physics

AAPM Newsletter — Volume 42 No.5 — September|October 2017

MED PHYZ WIZ KIDZ Julie Pollard-Larkin, PhD, Houston, TX

Picture of Julie Pollard-Larkin
The Unveiling of the Med Phyz Whiz Kidz Outreach Program at AAPM's Annual Meeting in Denver

AAPM Annual Meetings tend to get better each year, and this year's program was even better than expected. On top of our world-class exhibit hall filled to the brim with all of the latest technological advances in radiotherapy and imaging, we added a new event dedicated to enlightening the local school children about the world of Medical Physics. We called our program Med Phyz Whiz Kidz.

This event was spear-headed by the Women's Professional Subcommittee and the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee with the goal to reach out to underserved students who have yet to hear of our field early on, to increase their interest in science and show them the broad spectrum of diversity in our unique field. Several studies have shown that women and minorities are underserved in the sciences, especially in physics, but our sub-specialty boasts roughly 20% or more participation of women than in our field as a whole. Also worth noting is that most of our graduate and residency programs have equal parity based on gender. We are a special, more diverse STEM field, and, therefore, are the perfect bastions to showcase clinical applications of science. To that end, we hosted 16 students, in addition to their guardians, in this free event. We had a host group of 10 physicists engage the students during a panel discussion where they explained their path to Medical Physics, followed by a tour of our exhibit hall, led primarily by physics residents and trainees from our Students and Trainees subcommittee.

The students also enjoyed snacks provided graciously by our association. The event was a great start according to the feedback from parents and students who called the day "awesome" and we now look forward to watching it grow in 2018. Frances Sullivan, 11 year old attendee of the inaugural event wrote an article entitledĀ "The Med Phys Wiz Kidz Children Have More Opportunities to Come, Especially Being a Life Saving Medical Physicist" that can be read onĀ, a site designed to provide an opportunity for students in under the age of 14 to have a forum, to increase their writing and photography skills, review products, books and movies, and share ideas with other youth.

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Comments (2)

Dr. Bridges

09-13-2017 22:04 PM

In future publications on this topic, would you please elaborate on what you mean by, "women and minorities are underserved in the sciences, especially in physics"? In what ways do the sciences, especially physics, serve women and minorities less than men and majorities? Is this problem limited to the US, or worldwide? If worldwide, then how do we classify minorities? There is a great deal of knowledge assumed in this article that is not necessarily known by the readership. It may also be good to hyperlink text pointing to Internet resources for additional reading ("citing sources", so to speak).


Dr. Kowalok

11-28-2017 10:03 AM