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Medical Physics Staffing in Radiotherapy


The IAEA recommends that it is necessary to define overall staffing requirements, including those of medical physicists, for providing appropriate radiotherapy services to support efficient and safe care of patients.

Important Principles

Medical physics staffing levels have usually been calculated based on patient numbers (e.g. 1 FTE medical physicist per 400 patients) or radiotherapy equipment numbers (e.g. 1.7 FTE medical physicists per linear accelerator). However it has been recognised that these simple methods of calculating medical physics staffing levels are not adequate to capture the different levels of complexity of service amongst radiotherapy centres. As an alternative, an activity based approach has been developed in the European Union and USA and by the IAEA. The staffing algorithm developed by the IAEA requires inputs on patient numbers, equipment, and complexity of treatment techniques, as well as percentages of time spent on non-clinical responsibilities including teaching, management and research.

Introduction to References

The IAEA Human Health Series No. 25 provides comprehensive guidance on the roles and responsibility of medical physicists. IAEA Publication 1296 provides information on staffing levels for a basic radiotherapy service, while an activity-based algorithm is described in IAEA Human Health Reports No. 13 and the staffing calculation spreadsheet from the report can be found here. The paper by Mills links to work in the USA on staffing while the European Union recommendation can be found in the "Relevant Links" box on this page.