Improving Health Through Medical Physics


William Parker, MSc | Montreal, QC, Canada

AAPM Newsletter — Volume 43 No.1 — January | February 2018

Continuing Professional Development Committee

The Education Council looks for opportunities to inform the Membership about activities undertaken by the council as a whole or by its constituent committees. This edition's report from the Education Council will highlight the activities of the Professional Development Committee, chaired by William Parker.

The purpose of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Committee is to ensure that sufficient professional educational activities are available to AAPM members to develop and maintain their competencies through AAPM and through other organizations. This is achieved though liaisons and relationships with other AAPM committees, sub-committees, and external entities.

The CPD reports directly to the Education Council (EC), with the CPD Chair appointed as a member of the EC. As of this year, three sub-committees report to the CPD: Maintenance of Certification SC, Online Learning Services SC, and RSNA Education Coordination SC. Historically, the Summer School SC and the Annual Meeting Education SC also reported through the CPD. Changes in the Meeting Coordination Committee (MCC) structure and charge have resulted in the aforementioned committees reporting to the MCC. The chairs of those sub-committees are now appointed as liaisons on the CPD to maintain continuity and integrity of the CPD. Currently the Committee Roster is made up of various ex-officio and liaison members.

The main activities of the CPD Committee are listed below:

  1. Assess, periodically, the professional educational needs of the AAPM Membership.
  2. Oversee the AAPM online educational content and program.
  3. Support educational activities required for maintenance of certification.
  4. Work with AAPM Summer School Committee to ensure that professional educational programs at the Summer School meet the needs of the AAPM Membership.
  5. Work with the Meeting Coordination Committee to ensure that professional educational programs at the Annual Meeting meet the needs of the AAPM Membership.
  6. Ensure coordination between the professional educational activities of the AAPM and those of related organizations and make recommendations to those organizations concerning the professional educational needs of medical physicists.
  7. Provide, with the approval of AAPM Board, advice to other organizations and government agencies about the professional educational needs of medical physicists.
  8. Ensure that AAPM engages in other professional educational activities as necessary.
  9. Make recommendations to educational accreditation agencies, such as CAMPEP, concerning the accreditation of medical physics professional educational activities.
  10. Oversee the sponsorship, endorsement, and co-sponsorship of professional educational activities in accordance with AAPM policies.
  11. Prepare and ensure dissemination of a calendar of educational events of interest to medical physicists.
  12. Arrange for the publication of professional educational materials.

There are two active projects the Committee is involved in, both related to online educational content. The first has resulted in the creation of a newly formed Task Group (TG) to examine possible ways to modernize the dissemination AAPM's Virtual Library to the Membership and public. The second is a work group currently being formed (under the OLE) to formalize a repository of other online materials to members following recommendations of TG 250.

Most of the activities of the CPD are handled by the three sub-committees. A description of each of the SCs activities is given below.

Maintenance of Certification SC (MOC)

The Maintenance of Certification Subcommittee is charged to:

  1. Act as a Resource to the ABR trustees and AAPM members concerning MOC requirements and implementation;
  2. Provide information/suggestions on activities that meet MOC requirements; and
  3. Insure that educational activities are available to members.

Operationally, the MOC Committee is responsible for the approval of all Self-Assessment Modules (SAM) at AAPM Meetings. The Committee has a high workload and has a 16-person strong membership, led by SC Chair Michael Yester.

Online Learning Services SC (OLCE)

The primary goal of the Online Learning Services Subcommittee will be to provide various Continuing Education (CE), Self-Assessment Modules (SAM), and other online educational/learning opportunities to the AAPM Membership and others as permitted by AAPM via the association website and/or digital products. The SC is responsible for coordinating the efforts that pertain to such learning opportunities, which include activities such as:

  • Oversight of the Online Continuing Education Program,
  • Ensuring that credits earned online satisfy and are approved by ABR, CAMPEP, or other requirements, depending on the context,
  • Recommending contracts with audio/visual contractors for video capture,
  • Management of the Virtual Library, other special learning events, and webinars,
  • Coordination of CE quizzes (journals, meetings, etc.)

The SC works with organizers of AAPM (and AAPM-associated) 'in person' or face to face learning events to determine if content presented at such events should be digitally available and if so, coordinate this effort. The SC is also responsible for the recommendation of participation fee schedules for online activities and pricing of related products.

This very busy Committee is 16-person strong and currently led by Chuck Bloch. After many productive years at the helm, Chuck is rotating off the Committee and will be succeeded by Mi-Ae Park.

RSNA Educational Coordination SC (REC)

The purpose of this Subcommittee is to coordinate and contribute to the planning of the various physics educational activities of the RSNA Annual Meeting in which AAPM members participate. The objective is to enhance the value of the educational activities to AAPM members, radiologists, and other healthcare professionals in attendance. This is another busy committee which has 10 members and is led by Jim Kofler. The Committee manages nine physics "Tracks" at the RSNA, over 90 educational talks, including the two physics tutorial sessions, the Monday Summer School Symposium, Basic Physics Lectures for the RT, and the "Case of the Day."

The CPD Committee exists to serve the AAPM Membership, for further details please visit the CPD Committee website.

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Comments (1)

Dr. Pichardo

01-13-2018 09:12 AM

What resources do physicists have to ensure they are following correct processes for performing fundamental tasks such as a MU hand calculation (by hand, not software), estimating the block factor for an electron block that has an irregular shape (e.g. block for a keloid that includes nipple and scar, small apertures, irregularly-shaped apertures), diagnosing failing IMRT QA, diagnosing failing MU 2nd checks, investigating discrepancies for treatments involving small fields, appropriate procedure for determining appropriateness and plan quality (physicians will disagree with what factors to consider), etc. I am yet to find a physicist that can clearly explain, in a practical way with a didactic example, how the 2nd MU check software calculates MUs for IMRT and VMAT plans. The AAPM has made great improvements in recent years with the MPPG and TG publications, but even these publications fail to provide practical and didactic guidance. For example, they do not help the physicist determine how to correctly and efficiently perform tests, nor do they provide a proper justification for why the test needs to be performed. There is little agreement among physicists as to what tests should be performed during annuals and monthlies. Regarding TG142, the only consensus is that the number of recommended checks is excessive, so the physicist has to pick and choose which tests to perform. Unfortunately, TG142 does not explain the consequences of not performing some of these checks (i.e. why is each check important?). Now that we are moving more toward an FMEA mentality, we need to know this information and we need to know it accurately. I have posted a myriad of questions to the MEDPHYSUSA listserver and I find that there is a lot of confusion and misconceptions about these topics, which one would expect would be standard knowledge for any physicist. It would be helpful if the AAPM would set up a website to provide consensus and accurate guidance to questions physicists encounter in the clinic.