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Joint IAEA/Argonne training course on small field dosimetry, 10–14 December 2015, USA

The IAEA, with the support of the International Programs at Argonne National Laboratory, organized in December 2015 at the University of Chicago Hospital the first training course on small field dosimetry.

The purpose of the course was to train clinical medical physicists in Member States on how to implement the new joint IAEA/American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) code of practice on small field dosimetry. Small fields are part of current advanced radiotherapy techniques such as Stereotactic Radiotherapy (SRT), Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) and Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT). Despite being widely employed, the dosimetry of small fields is neither well understood nor there is a universally accepted dosimetry procedure. It is important to address this topic and provide training on it, to improve the accuracy of the beam dosimetry in radiotherapy and thus improve the safety and efficacy of patient treatments.

The interest in the course was extremely high: it was oversubscribed with 67 applicants for 15 places. Those awarded were selected on the basis of the criteria outlined in the prospectus. The participants came from 15 different Member States and their Region distribution is shown in the graph below.

The course consisted of lectures that took place at the Argonne National Laboratory, while the entire weekend was spent on practical sessions at the University of Chicago Hospital, which granted access to three linacs, quality assurance phantoms and provided local clinical medical physicists to assist during the weekend.

This was an opportunity for medical physicists from Member States to be trained on both theory and practical aspects of the new IAEA/AAPM Code of Practice for the ‘Dosimetry of Small Static Fields Used in External Beam Radiotherapy’.

Picture showing experimental set-up used during the practical sessions held at the University Chicago Hospital

Picture showing experimental set-up used during the practical sessions held at the University Chicago Hospital

The course was extremely appreciated by the participants as it was well highlighted in the feedback form.

Graph extracted from analysis of the feedback performed on the last day of the course. The rating scale ranges from 1 (weakest score) to 5 (strongest score).

The knowledge evaluation quantified the impact of the course, showing an increase in correct answers to the test: before the course 33% of the students passed the test, after the course that increased to 67%. The results are shown in the graph below.

The course will be repeated this year with the help of the IAEA Technical Cooperation in South Africa from 6 to 10 October 2016, due to the high number of requests received for this training course and the relevance of this topic to achieve safe and efficient treatments in modern radiotherapy.


The IAEA acknowledges the financial and organisational support provided by Argonne National Laboratory for this training course.