Physicists fulfill a very important role in medical, industrial, and many other fields. Diagnostic medical physicists contribute to the effectiveness of radiological imaging procedures by assuring radiation safety and improved imaging techniques. Therapeutic medical physicists contribute to the development of therapeutic techniques, collaborate with radiation oncologists to design treatment plans, and monitor equipment and procedures to ensure that cancer patients receive the correct radiation dose to the correct location.
Medical Physicists & Radiation Therapy
Medical physicists working in the field of radiation oncology are generally called “qualified medical physicists in radiotherapy” or “radiation oncology medical physicists,” depending on their country. They are dedicated to providing safe and effective treatment of cancers. There are also oncologists, therapists, maintenance engineers, and nurses that work with these physicists. Medical physicists have knowledge of physics, particularly in radiation physics and how it interacts with human tissue. They work with complex technology involved in the modern treatment of cancer that is essential to the successful application of radiation therapy.
Medical Physicist Duties
There are five major areas of focus for therapeutic medical physicists: dosimetry, treatment planning, quality control, equipment selection, and radiation safety. A large portion of their duties involves commissioning, calibration, and quality assurance of the complex equipment used in radiation oncology. Accidents can occur in the practice of radiation oncology when quality assurance isn’t performed and the lack of ongoing clinical training to keep up to date on current practices.
Continued Education for Practicing Physicists
It is critical to continue the professional development of the practicing physicist through short courses, access to the scientific literature, and online classes. There is a shortage of medical physicists worldwide and especially in Low-to-Middle-Income Countries (LMIC). The need for medical physicists is growing due to the increasing complexity of the treatments and diagnostic equipment.
There is a big push for quality health care in all parts of the world, but the supply of trained personnel has not kept up with this need, and the shortage is getting worse. While there are master’s level courses in medical physics offered by many universities in many countries of the world, the ongoing training component for quality assurance is not widely available.
How Matter Fabs Can Help
We are happy to announce that our team at Matter Fabs is working closely with our physicist, and we will offer our clients online and in-person classes for radiation safety and physics education to do our part to help in this global need.