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International Day of Medical Physics 2020

On Saturday 7 November 2020, the IAEA will join all medical physicists around the world and the International Organization for Medical Physics (IOMP) in celebrating the 8th International Day of Medical Physics (IDMP). A live webinar will be hosted by IOMP with participation of IAEA Officers on 7 November at 12 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT); instructions on how to join the event are available on the relevant IOMP webpage.

7 November as IDMP

7 November was chosen as international day to celebrate medical physics because on this same day in 1867, Marie Sklodowska-Curie, known for her pioneering research on radioactivity, was born in Poland. Since 2013, date of the first IDMP edition, every year, a specific topic is selected to highlight and celebrate different aspects of medical physics.

The topic chosen by IOMP this year is “Medical Physicist as a Health Professional”. The IAEA’s e-flyer linked to the IDMP event (available for download on this page) adds to this title the question “Do you recognize me?”, to highlight the lack of formal acceptance of medical physicists as part of the health workforce in most of the world. This absence of professional recognition can hinder the access to adequate academic education, clinical training, as well as continuous professional development (CPD), undermining best practices, for instance in the field of ethics, which is tightly linked to all health professions’ practices.

Furthermore, without the appropriate status of health professionals, medical physics is liable to unharmonized professional standards, resulting for example in a lack of establishment and maintenance of quality management procedures for radiation medicine equipment, with consequent risks for patient care. Low professional status also contributes to brain drain and understaffing, further affecting healthcare quality.

International guidelines clearly state that medical physicists are part of the health workforce. Medical physics has been included among the healthcare professions by the International Labour Organization (ILO) already in 2008, in the publication International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO). The IAEA International BSS (2014), HHS 25 (2013) and SSG 46 (2018) clearly refer to the medical physicist as health professional, stressing the importance of acquiring defined competencies to practice at the highest professional standards.

The IAEA is concerned by the widespread lack of inclusion of medical physics among the health professions in Member States, despite the above-mentioned international guidelines supporting this point. To further promulgate recognition, the IAEA has been working on developing guidelines for certification of medical physicists, since this process is inherently linked to the concept of recognition and it is routinely applied to all other health professions. Certification provides a mechanism in which the profession itself takes ownership for professional standards and best practice, and at the same time allowing for CPD.

The IAEA initiative for the IDMP2020

The IAEA celebration includes a set of videos that accompany the viewer through a journey exploring the professional identity of medical physicists and their recognition by their closest co-workers, medical doctors.

Medical physicists in Member States are encouraged to use these videos to support the case for medical physics as a health profession in their countries. Two official IAEA statements from Ms Debbie van der Merwe, Head of the Dosimetry and Medical Radiation Physics Section and Mr Ola Holmberg, Head of the Radiation Protection of Patients Unit are also available for download.

Medical Physicists as health professionals can contribute in different ways to healthcare. Examples are provided through the testimony of Medical Physicists from around the world:

Egor Titovich (Belarus)

Federico Gutt (Venezuela)

Godfrey Azangwe (Zimbabwe)

Paul Babu Rao (India)

Medical Physicists in our Member States express how proud they are of their work in the different specialties (diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine and radiotherapy) of medical physics:

link to video

a video from Mr Malick Geraldo in training at the S. Orsola Polyclinic in Bologna through an IAEA fellowship

Other health professionals, such as medical doctors who closely collaborate with us in the different fields of radiation medicine, understand the importance of our work and support our inclusion in the health workforce:

Enrique Estrada Lobato, IAEA

Kamal Akbarov, IAEA

Oliver Pellet, IAEA

IAEA publications that you can use to help make the case for medical physics as a health profession:

Giorgia Loreti, IAEA

Official IAEA video messages from Ms D. van der Merwe and Mr O. Holmberg

Debbie van der Merwe

Ola Holmberg