Improving Health Through Medical Physics

2018 President's Workshop

Bruce Thomadsen, PhD | Madison, WI

AAPM Newsletter — Volume 43 No. 5 — September | October 2018

I titled this the 2018 President's Workshop, but there has never been one before. This Symposium was intended to generate ideas for making the future for medical physics and the AAPM. Paul B. Brown, one of the keynote speakers at the President's Symposium facilitated the workshop. Without making you read through too much, in short, 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," with quotes and headlines about great things medical physics has done. The assignment also indicated that the featured article should address the obstacles we overcame. Lastly, we were to include the most important characteristics we needed to address to overcome those obstacles.

Each table made a list of reasons medical physicists fail: fail to get grants, fail in the clinic, fail to impress administrators, fail to be appreciated, fail to get regulations passed or repealed, etc. Then, Paul said, the next step is when the bloodletting begins. We were to pick the two most important causes. Each table did, with a minimum of bloodshed. But then, pick the most important! That was painful.

The results were surprising. About half the tables came to inadequate communication and the other half failure to think big enough. For almost all tables, whichever one was picked, the other was still high on the list. The final exercise was for each table to present arguments supporting its pick. At that point, however, I realized it was not a choice. Effective communication about us and thinking big enough go together inseparably. As in the figure (not my photograph at the top), they circle around each other like binary stars.

No, in one two-hour workshop, we did not solve the riddles of how to own our future, but using the concepts from the symposium, we did get to the heart of some of what we need to do. Examples of communicating, thinking big and communicating big were brought up, and I still have about 30 large flip-chart pages to digest and summarize. These will come in next Newsletter.

For this article, I spared you the details of what Paul B. Brown said at the President's Symposium — that also will be for the next Newsletter. Until then, think big thoughts.

Intense participants at the workshop plotting the future Intense participants at the workshop plotting the future

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