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AAPM Newsletter

September/October 2011

Education Council Report George Starkschall, Houston, TX

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n a recent Newsletter, I described to you an AAPM report , Report 197-S, that identied a pathway by which individuals educated in disciplines other than medical physics could receive didactic education in medical physics to prepare them for residency in medical physics. The report identied six courses that constitute appropriate medical physics remediation, and there appears to be general acceptance of the report. However, an unresolved question remains as to how an individual can take these remediation courses and be qualied for a CAMPEP-accredited residency program. One possibility is that the individual be accepted into the residency program and make up the course deciencies while in the residency program. This can work if the residency program is afliated with a CAMPEP-accredited graduate program. The resident can take up to two courses in the graduate program without extending the length of the program. Alternatively, if more remediation is required, it may be necessary to extend the residency program to enable the candidate to take the additional courses and still obtain sufcient clinical time. If the residency program is not afliated with an accredited graduate program, CAMPEP has provided a mechanism for review of these didactic courses. Another alternative is for the individual to take the remediation courses while involved in a postdoctoral program. This alternative could work if the postdoctoral appointment is an institution that has a CAMPEP-accredited graduate program. Moreover, this option would require cooperation from the individual’’s research mentor to enable the individual to take time from research to study didactic courses. Yet another alternative would be a certicate program. A certicate program is a one-year program in which a student can take the core medical physics courses specied in AAPM Report 197S. No degree would be required, since the student already has an advanced degree; all they need is acknowledgment that the specied courses have been taken and passed. Several institutions already have established certicate programs, and more are likely. CAMPEP has indicated that courses satisfying the 197S requirements in a certicate program housed in a CAMPEP-accredited graduate program are automatically approved for remediation. A more difcult issue that needs to be resolved is the fact that there are still rather few CAMPEPaccredited graduate programs that could offer remediation courses to a potential medical physics applicant. Consequently, the candidate must be in residence at an institution that hosts an accredited graduate program. There is no provision at this time for distance learning. One proposal that has been suggested to alleviate this issue is that of providing online medical physics courses, but the acceptability of such coursework is still a controversial issue. Some mechanism would be needed to ensure the quality of the educational experience. Two key issues would need to be resolved. First, it would be necessary to provide an appropriate level of studentstudent and student-faculty interaction. Without that interaction, a student could just read a text, but reading a textbook alone does not provide adequate didactic education. The second issue is how to evaluate a student’’s achievement in an online course and ensure that the correct student is indeed the one being examined. Validating the quality of online medical physics education is an issue that is yet to be resolved and providing adequate didactic education for individuals transitioning into a career in medical physics from another discipline in physics is yet another challenge we face as we move forward towards 2014. 1

http://www.aapm.org/pubs/reports/RPT_197S.pdf

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AAPM Newsletter September/October 2011 Vol. 36 No. 5  

AAPM Newsletter September/October 2011 Vol. 36 No. 5  

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