Improving Health Through Medical Physics

Strategic Planning

Bruce Thomadsen, PhD | MADISON, WI

AAPM Newsletter — Volume 43 No. 6 — November | December 2018

Last Newsletter I gave a very brief overview of the President's Workshop at the Nashville meeting. Summarizing from that article in a sentence, "This Symposium was intended to generate ideas for making the future for Medical Physics and AAPM. Paul B. Brown, one of the keynote speakers at the President's Symposium facilitated the workshop... the assignment was for each of the nine tables to make a magazine cover from the future looking back at 'How medical physics became so great?'". Part of the goal of the exercise was to identify where we would like medical physics to be in the future, the obstacles to overcome to get there and the important characteristics we need to overcome those obstacles. The full (but very short) article can be found here. The bottom line for this single exercise was that medical physics suffers from two very important failures: inadequate communication of what we do and our value and failure to think big enough. The figures below are samples of flipchart pages generated during the session.

This is all part of the strategic planning AAPM needs to do. The Board just passed the Strategic Plan at the Nashville meeting, but that was really just a part of our strategic planning, where we determined our values and goals and the activities that we need to do to achieve them. Much of that is what we already do – we have been a very effective organization. There is still much to do, and the plan is serving as a roadmap for us. The councils are working on indicators that would serve as milestones to evaluate our progress.

What we are just starting to do is long-range strategic planning, and this relates to the topic of the President's Symposium and Workshop, and the first paragraph here. There are many forces acting on our profession, few of them very positive. If we just react to these forces, we likely will find ourselves in unfavorable situations in the future, as a discipline and as an organization. We need to try to change the playing field, make adjustments in the environment and adapt ourselves so that the forces we encounter move us at least closer to where we want to be. Figuring out what that place in the future looks like and what we need to do to arrive there is the deeper strategic planning in which we need to engage. The planning has to be continuous because the situation will always be changing, hopefully, in part, because of what we do. Knowing that it will take AAPM some time before we actually take steps, we should start thinking about this now, talking about it at chapter meetings, in the hallways and in the Boardroom. The discussion needs to start now. As Paul B. Brown points out, beginning to make your future starts with taking steps. We need to take the first steps soon.

Figures of flipcharts from the 2018 President's Workshop.
Headlines for a magazine on how medical physics became great in the future
Another vision of the future
Hurdles to overcome to reach that future
Forces at work on medical physics

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