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Ethics and Professionalism Education in Medical Physics: A Needs Assessment Study

N Ozturk

N Ozturk1*, S Armato1, M L Giger1, C Serago2, L F Ross1, (1) The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, (2) Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL

SU-E-E-3 Sunday 3:00:00 PM - 6:00:00 PM Room: Exhibit Hall

Purpose: To perform a needs assessment survey of ethics/professionalism education in medical physics and ethical/professional challenges in clinical, research and educational settings with the intent of supplementing and customizing TG159 recommended ethics curriculum for medical physics trainees.

Methods: A web-based survey was conducted among AAPM members to assess current practices, attitudes and perceptions pertaining to ethics/professionalism education and ethical/professional misconduct or questionable behavior and practices in the field.

Results: The survey was distributed by AAPM to 7708 members via email; 1362 (17.7%) responded. Seventy-five percent of the respondents were male. Sixty percent (805/1345) stated they received no education in ethics/professionalism. Eighty-one percent (126/155) of current trainees received instruction in ethics/professionalism, as opposed to 35% (392/1130) of those who are post-training. There was strong support (>90%) for continuing education in ethics/professionalism; seventy-five percent (1019/1354) supported sessions on ethics and professionalism at national meetings. Most preferred method of ethics instruction was periodic discussion sessions involving faculty and trainees, with the least interest expressed for a separate course. Many reported direct personal knowledge of one or more instances of a variety of professional/ethical misconduct or questionable behavior. Thirty eight percent (458/1192) reported poor mentorship, with women reporting this concern more often than men (129/281,46% versus 316/877, 36%, p<.05). Over one-fourth of respondents reported being asked to perform low educational value tasks and expressed concerns about fairness. A significant minority also reported questionable behavior with respect to authorship assignment (346/920, 38%), data fabrication (107/924, 12%), data falsification (94/919, 10%); concerns about research subject privacy and confidentiality were lower (64/887, 7%).

Conclusions: Data gathered through the survey is guiding our efforts to develop a case-based ethics curriculum and instructional materials for medical physics trainees at our institution. This effort may be useful to other medical physics programs which offer ethics training/education.

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