Volume 22 No. 2 March/April, 1997

AAPM President's Column

Issues-of-Impact (IoIs) for the AAPM
by Stephen R. Thomas
Cincinnati, Ohio

Issues-of-Impact (IoIs) which define the vista ahead for the AAPM were introduced in my previous column as key areas of consideration falling into three principal categories. As listed in the accompanying table, these categories include: (1) the State-of-theMedical Physics Profession, (2) the AAPM as a National Presence, and (3) Organizational Aspects of the AAPM. Recognizably, they have interconnections and ramifications that continue to evolve. The IoIs as presented reflect the vision of individuals within the AAPM leadership who were enlisted to review my original table. Although intended to provide a comprehensive perspective, some issues of significance may have been overlooked. Comments and additional suggestions from the membership are welcomed. I can be reached at president@AAPM.org.

The Qualified Medical Physicist

In this column, I have chosen to address three IoIs-one from each category. First, I turn to the issue of the qualified medical physicist (QMP) within Category 1. If our discipline is to move forward on an equal professional footing with our physician colleagues there must be a recognized definition of what constitutes the minimum qualifications for an individual to practice medical physics. For a long time we were without a definition of a qualified medical physicist. Now we have three! Three voices speaking out, even in partial unison, have collective strength although there is the possibility of introducing discord. All three organizations, the AAPM, ACMP, and ACR define a QMP as an individual who is competent to practice independently in one or more sub-fields of medical physics which include as a minimum, therapeutic radiological physics, diagnostic radiological physics, and nuclear medical physics. Medical health physics is included in some cases. As Don Tolbert reported in the previous newsletter, the ACR, at their September 1996 annual meeting, formally adopted their definition of a QMP which will be used to update all of the appropriate ACR standards. The individual statements from the three organi zations differ as to what is specified as evidence of competency with regard to Board certification in a designated sub-field. All three recognize the American Board of Radiology, however, the ACR is the most reticent in that it does not explicitly mention any other boards in its statement concerning the QMP, whereas the AAPM and the ACMP do. The ACR's position is, however, that if an individual does not have ABR board certification, that does not mean that he or she is not qualified. Nevertheless, the possibility for ambiguity here underscores the imperative that a unified Board certification process be established for medical physicists. In addition, issues remain to be addressed regarding evolving CME requirements for medical physicists. But clearly, tangible professional gains have been secured through the consensus which now has been achieved in defining the qualified medical physicist.

Resources to Monitor Regulatory Policy

One of my primary goals as President is to enhance the AAPM's role as a monitor of regulatory statutes and policy at both the National and State levels (IoI Category 2). Under Geoff Ibbott and the Professional Council, the Committee on Legislation and Regulation, chaired by Dick Lane, is moving forward as our vanguard in this area. I have been in contact with Dick to emphasize the importance I attach to the activities of this Committee and to offer support in the endeavor to promote its presence on the national scene and as a resource for the membership. In the accompanying article (see page 6), Dick has provided a detailed description of the L&R Committee's activities over the past year and outlined planned initiatives for 1997. One example of the essential ongoing functions is their interaction with the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD). An additional aspect associated with the goal of providing effective legislation monitoring, is the ability to maintain "on-line" expertise for timely consultation on particular problems or requests for response in the name of the AAPM. Currently, I am evaluating the advisability of appointing an Ad Hoc Committee to develop recommendations for mechanisms to enhance AAPM involvement in government affairs. It is my objective to ensure that the resources of the L&R Committee are at a level where it can function truly efficiently in service of the AAPM membership on matters related to regulatory activity.

The Electronic Presence

Turning now to IoI Category 3, let me focus my final comments on the AAPM in the brave new world of the national/international web. In terms of the historical turn by the AAPM toward development in this area, the recommendations of Rick Morin's Ad Hoc Committee on Electronic Communications (1993) lead to the volunteer work of Bruce Curran and Doug Wagenaar through the Computer Committee to establish the AAPM. org. Subcommittee. The Electronic Media Coordinating Committee (EMCC) was formally constituted through AAPM Board action at the 1996 RSNA. EMCC Chair, Dan Bourland, has described the Committee's charge and objectives in this issue of the newsletter (see page 10). Mike Woodward, our webmaster supreme, has been coordinating the AAPM node development at Headquarters in consultation with the EMCC on matters involving policy. Many benefits are associated with this endeavor as outlined by Dan extending from support of chapter home pages to on-line publication of AAPM reports. We will be investigating mechanisms for maintaining the cost effective expansion of these membership services through various possibilities for web-based revenue input.

Let me conclude this overview of our electronic presence with a request. Based on e-mail addresses provided in the 1997 AAPM directory, approximately 50% of our membership is listed as having access to the Internet. I call for the remaining half of our members to establish the link. As the AAPM web site projects surge forward providing enhanced member services, we want everyone to be in a position to benefit from the capabilities available. It is our intention that AAPM.org functions as an efficient arm of the Association as it serves the needs of the membership in this age of electronic communication.

Read a breakdown of the IoIs