Improving Health Through Medical Physics


Jim Dobbins, PhD | Durham, NC

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

As the year comes to a close, I am pleased to report on the activities of Education Council during 2018. There are several items that deserve particular mention.

Over the past decade, much work has been done to increase the number of residency training programs. This has actually been a great success, as we have increased from about 25 residency slots per year in 2008 up to about 170–180 residency slots per year today. We have 98 accredited therapy programs, 25 accredited imaging programs, and five accredited DMP programs. Our initial estimate based on the workforce analysis done in 2010 was that about 145–175 total residency slots were needed per year, so we are virtually at where we need to be. Additional good news is that there appears to be only minimal loss of slots by attrition. We do need to continue to monitor the number of residency slots and that is one of the major ongoing initiatives of Education Council. We are working collaboratively with Professional Council, SDAMPP, and CAMPEP to collect data that will enable us to understand whether these available residency slots are appropriately matched to current work force needs.

One area that is a particular emphasis is ascertaining whether additional imaging residency slots are needed. We are exploring options for how we might add to the number of available training slots in imaging. We are pleased to announce that RSNA has joined with AAPM to provide financial support for several new imaging residencies over the coming six years.

The efforts of the Subcommittee on the Oversight of MedPhys Match, chaired by John Antolak, have borne great fruit over the past four years. We just completed the fourth round of the match and there were 201 total applicants with 116 matched. Equal numbers of MS and PhD candidates from CAMPEP programs matched, though a smaller percentage for the Masters candidates, indicating that there is a residency pathway available for both of these types of students.

The Medical Physicists as Educators Committee (Victor Montemayor, Chair) organized a workshop on "Improving the Teaching and Mentoring of Medical Physics", which took place in Nashville on Thursday and Friday, July 26-27, prior to the AAPM Annual Meeting. It included a great line-up of speakers and brainstorming sessions for the participants on many topics related to future directions in education.

Our International Educational Activities Committee (Cari Borrás, Chair) conducted a number of cooperative education projects this year. One of those was a Special Session at the IUPESM World Congress of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering in Prague on June 5, 2018, entitled, "Expanding Horizons of Medical Physics: Patient Safety and Beyond." The objective of the session was to present and discuss state-of-the-art technological developments in medical imaging and therapeutic interventions with a specific focus on their impact on patient safety.

The Medical Physics Education of Physicians Committee (Karen Brown, Chair), through the ROMPES subcommittee, has completed a draft set of 27 radiation oncology physics modules. These modules are undergoing review and are part of our efforts on Education Council to explore mechanisms for online education of our members, trainees, and physician colleagues.

We also continue to explore ways to highlight different career pathways for individuals in medical physics. While many (or even most) of our trainees will explore a clinical career path, medical physicists can also provide valuable service in non-clinical areas such as academic research, industry, and government labs. We want to make sure that our trainees are well informed about the variety of career paths that are available today. The Working Group to Promote Non-Clinical Career Paths for Medical Physicists (Humza Nusrat, Chair) has generated a series of blogs related to training, skills, and career options for trainees interested in non-clinical careers. The blogs are reviewed by the Education and Training of Medical Physicists Committee (Joann Prisciandaro, Chair) and have appeared online this calendar year.

We also have several initiatives in place for the coming year. One is to produce useful material for the general public to inform them about issues of risk and benefit from uses of radiation in medicine, and to highlight the role of medical physicists as experts in such areas. Our Public Education Committee, chaired by George Sandison, is undertaking this effort, and has received grant funding from AIP to support this work.

We always welcome feedback from the AAPM membership on issues of importance in our education and training mission. We look forward to hearing from you.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)