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Professional/Education/Science Policies

Policy number Policy name Policy date Sunset date
PP 22-C AAPM Position Statement on the Role of Medical Physicists in Providing Quality Medical Care 12/3/2013 12/31/2018
Policy source
July 31, 2008 Board of Directors' Meeting Minutes
Policy text

Medical Physics is the branch of physics that is associated with the practice of medicine. The joint policy document "Scope of Practice of Medical Physics" states (1), "the essential responsibility of the Qualified Medical Physicist's clinical practice is to assure the safe and effective delivery of radiation to achieve a diagnostic or therapeutic result as prescribed in patient care." The clinical practice of Medical Physics is focused on accuracy, safety and quality in radiation oncology, medical imaging, image-guided medical procedures, and medical radiation safety, as well as on innovative research and development in the aforementioned disciplines and the dissemination of scientific and technical information for the professional development of healthcare workers involved in these disciplines.

The Qualified Medical Physicist (QMP) works collaboratively with physician colleagues, biomedical engineers, radiologic technologists, radiation therapists, medical dosimetrists, nurses and others, often providing supervision and oversight of staff to ensure that all radiation producing and related equipment remains safe and suitably calibrated, that radiation dose determinations are accurate, and that all imaging modalities are functioning at their optimal levels. The QMP insures that all such equipment, policies and procedures are in compliance with state and federal regulations and in keeping with published standards. The QMP's primary professional responsibility is to the staff and patient's safety and welfare.

Qualified Medical Physicists (2) have a unique combination of education and training in physics principles, radiation physics applications, dosimetry planning, radiobiological principles, human anatomy and oncology principles, as well as safety analysis and quality control methods. A fully trained medical physicist demonstrates competence by obtaining certification from the appropriate certifying board in their subspecialty of practice (American Board of Radiology, American Board of Medical Physics, American Board of Science in Nuclear Medicine, or Canadian College of Physicists in Medicine), and is considered a Qualified Medical Physicist by pursuing continuing education and adhering to the Code of Ethics of the American Association of Physics in Medicine as published by the AAPM (3).

Qualified Medical Physicists working in clinical, research or educational environments, due to their training and professional focus, are crucial to the delivery of quality radiation therapy, performance of quality medical imaging, and protection of healthcare workers, patients and the general public from the potentially harmful effects of radiation and other physical phenomena such as magnetic fields and ultrasound. As such, Qualified Medical Physicists serve a vital role that is in the interests of the local, national and international communities.

(1) AAPM Policy PP 17 - Scope of Practice of Medical Physics (ACMP & AAPM)

(2) AAPM Policy PP 1 - Definition of A Qualified Medical Physicist

(3) AAPM Policy PP 24 titled "Code of Ethics"

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