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Physics education in radiology

BioPhotonics
Oct 2007
In a review of physics education in radiology, William R. Hendee from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee states that the majority of residency programs in radiology do not provide a significant background in medical imaging physics, which is necessary to master imaging technology. He also states that, if radiologists do not master the physics of imaging technology, the profession of radiology will risk intrusion by other specialties because it lacks definition.

Currently, some radiology residency programs do not place high value on training in physics and in engineering. Instead, they focus on training residents in clinical skills. Furthermore, although residents are required to take a physics certification examination, it tests physics knowledge only superficially.

Hendee recounts educational summits of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine in January 2006, attended by representatives from numerous other professional societies, and of the Radiological Society of North America in February. The summits provided several recommendations, and he lists these and the progress achieved since they were made.

The recommendations included: to consider physical sciences and engineering backgrounds during the residency admissions process; to rework the radiology curriculum to address gaps in physics education; to consider physics education during the accreditation process for radiologists; and to ensure that physics instructors are prepared to teach radiology residents.

Since the recommendations were made, progress has been achieved in several areas. Entirely new curricula have been established, discussions are under way to change radiology residency examinations, and workshops have been held to address the training of physics instructors.

Radiological equipment now encompasses molecular- to system-level imaging and continues to expand in scope. Hendee maintains that, to take advantage of the opportunities presented by this equipment, radiologists must master the technology and continue to focus on clinical acumen, quality, safety and cost-effectiveness. (Journal of the American College of Radiology, August 2007, pp. 555-559.)


GLOSSARY
radiology
The study of radioactive substances and high-energy radiations such as x-rays and g-rays.
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