Volume 22 No. 3 May/June, 1997

AAPM President's Column

The Mission Ahead
by Stephen R. Thomas
Cincinnati, Ohio

In this age of pronounced introspection when health care organizations are defining the "value-added" components of their professional activities, it is appropriate that the AAPM initiate its own self-evaluation exercise. Generally, the starting point would be a review of the organization's tenets most often presented in the form of a Mission Statement. Surprisingly, a unified mission statement has never been developed for our Association. The Presidential Ad Hoc Strategic Planning Committee, commissioned in 1995 by Guy Simmons and chaired by Rick Morin, presented as its first recommendation the need for the AAPM to formulate and adopt a mission statement. This recommendation, accepted by the AAPM Board of Directors at the 1996 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, provided specific guidance in the approach to this task. It was pointed out that although the AAPM does indeed have a statement of purpose in its Articles of Incorporation, mission statements are intended to go further to provide guidance for an organization's long range planning and evaluation of pathways to achieve the goals of future programs. The Ad Hoc Committee presented a component framework for a mission statement which included the following:
fostering the applications of physics in medicine and biology; fostering the education of medical physicists; ensuring the dissemination of scientific and technical information; ensuring that the professional interests of all members are represented; and, promoting, encouraging, and facilitating high quality medical physics services for patients.

To move forward in this direction, I have now appointed an Ad Hoc Committee to define the AAPM Mission Statement. The Committee is chaired by Guy Simmons with members Ken Kase, Ed Nickoloff, Russ Ritenour, Ken Vanek, and Marilyn Wexler. The charge is to develop a mission statement for the AAPM which is responsive to and reflects the many faceted functions and responsibilities of the AAPM as an organization, representing the profession of medical physics in areas of scientific, educational, and professional endeavor. It is intended that an initial draft statement be submitted to the Board of Directors at the Annual Meeting in Milwaukee and brought to a vote at the 1997 RSNA. We look forward to the mission statement product outcome of the Ad Hoc Committee as it addresses this Issue of Impact (IoI) for the AAPM.

National Support for Scientific Research

Those members of the AAPM engaged in scientific research are acutely aware of the challenges in obtaining funding from national agencies. As discretionary resources within individual academic departments shrink in response to managed care, the prospects for radiologic research would appear dim indeed if the light of federal funding were allowed to continue to fade. Within the AAPM, we have the Committee on Research chaired by Phil Judy which is charged with the responsibility of monitoring research trends and funding opportunities at the national level. At the 1996 RSNA, this Committee was positioned within the Science Council (previously an administrative committee) with the intention of providing a more functional link between its activities and the scientific committees of our Association. At this time, a focused national initiative to increase federal funds for scientific research has been directed toward the President of the United States and Members of Congress with a call to renew the nation's historical commitment to scientific research and education. In a landmark effort to promote federal research funding, the presidents of 43 organizations (including 15 presidents within the Council of Scientific Society Presidents-where I represent the AAPM) representing more than a million and a half scientists, engineers, and mathematicians throughout the United States issued a Joint Statement on Scientific Research (March 31, 1997) recommending an increase in federal research budgets in the range of 7 percent for fiscal year 1998. The full statement has been reproduced in this newsletter. Through such a unified, direct approach to remind our leaders in Washington of this national priority, there may be optimism that the pendulum is on the upswing and that all research scientists, including those in our membership, will realize a share of any newly committed resources. I was pleased to sign this statement on behalf of the AAPM and thus join forces with the other scientific organizations and the Council of Scientific Society Presidents in this drive to re-establish the appropriate level of national scientific research funding.

AAPM Liaisons

One of the important functions supported by the AAPM and carried out through individual appointments is that of our liaison representation to other professional organizations. These liaison activities promoting interactive relationships between the AAPM and other societies are vital to the interests of our Association. In all, there are some 32 formal liaison links fulfilled by approximately 80 AAPM members extending from the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), to the European Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology (ESTRO), to the Council on Radiation Control Programs Directors (CRCPD), to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)...to mention only a few. These contacts provide communication with radiological societies, administrative co-workers, international health care professionals, regulatory bodies, industry, and more-a truly broad spectrum. Clearly, the liaison process represents a two-way street providing opportunity for the AAPM to promote the profession of medical physics as well as a vehicle for gathering information of value for developing proactive programs. As an example of these initiatives, Ken Vanek and Tom Payne, AAPM liaisons to the American Hospital Association (AMA) and the American Healthcare Radiology Administrators (AHRA), respectively, are evaluating mechanisms to involve both hospital and radiology administrators at the local Milwaukee level in our Annual Meeting which might include complimentary registration and descriptive packets "advertising" the AAPM. The Annual Meeting presents a unique opportunity for building bridges with our professional colleagues. The total dollar amount allotted for liaison activities in our annual budget is approximately $50,000. Although always cost conscious, the potential return should signify money well spent. As a matter of policy, all liaisons are responsible for providing an annual written report on their activities to the President. Through direct communication, I have encouraged our liaisons to utilize these funds in productive ways to strengthen/enhance these positive intersociety interactions. As an organization, we want these types of activities to develop and expand to the benefit of the AAPM. Toward this end, we appreciate the diligent efforts of our Liaisons and support their initiatives to move forward as ambassadors of the medical physics profession.

Annual Meeting

The AAPM 39th Annual Meeting and Exhibition, to be held at the Wisconsin Convention Center in Milwaukee July 27-31, promises to provide a full complement of scientific, educational, professional, commercial, and social events for attendees. Detailed information may be obtained on the AAPM home page (www.aapm.org/meetings ). One kernel of the AAPM Annual Meeting is, as always, the scientific program assembled this year by the Scientific Program Director and Co-Director Mitch Goodsitt and Mary Martel, respectively. The full spectrum of disciplines from radiation oncology through imaging physics will be offered. Another is the education program coordinated by Tony Seibert. For all sessions, the opportunity is provided for continuing education credits- an activity of importance for the qualified medical physicist. Scientific, educational, and professional symposia have been designed on topical issues. The President's Symposium will address "New Directions in X-ray Detectors for Medical Imaging." Scientific symposia will range from Biological Modeling in Radiation Therapy to Computer-Aided Diagnosis in Mammography. In addition to the Sunday Symposium on "Medical Physics in the 21st Century: Educational and Credentialling Challenges," the Professional Council under the guidance of Geoff Ibbott is sponsoring a second symposium organized for new members as an introduction to the modus operandi of the AAPM including organizational aspects, EXCOM & Board, and the council/committee structure (see the accompanying article). The Educational Council Symposium, under the coordination of Jon Trueblood, will focus on "Software Resources for Assisting in the Instruction of Medical Physics" and "Educational Activities of the AAPM and CAMPEP." An additional mainstay is the wide ranging coverage of topics provided through the refresher course format. I would also stress the importance of attendance at the Annual Business Meeting which highlights AAPM activities over the past year and provides the opportunity for direct input of membership opinion. Thus, the Annual Meeting continues to represent a fundamental pillar of support for our Association. Every year it creates a comprehensive, stimulating environment within which medical physicists interact. I look forward to seeing you all in Milwaukee.

Joint Statement on Scientific Research
"As the federal government develops it's spending plans for fiscal Year 1998 we call upon the President and Members of Congress to renew the nation's historical commitment to scientific research and education by providing the requisite funding for the federal agencies charged with these responsibilities. Our call is based upon two fundamental principles that are well accepted by policy makers in both political parties.
The federal investment in scientific rcscarch is vital to four national goals: our economic competitiveness, our medical health, our national security, and our quality of life. Scientific disciplines are interdependent; therefore, a comprehensive approach to science funding provides the greatest opportunity for reaching these goals.
We strongly believe that for our nation to meet the challenges of the next century, agencies charged with carrying out scientific researcl and education require increases in their respective research budgets of 7 percent for Fiscal Year 1998. These agencies include, among others, the NSF, Nl11, DOF, DOD, and NASA. The increases we call for strike a balance between the current fiscal pressures and the need to invest in activities that enable long-term economic growth and productivity. Such increases would only p.irtially restore the inflationary losses that most of these agencies suffered cluring the last few years. Prudent planning argues for strengthening the respective activities of major research agencies, as already recognized in pending legislation. To constrain still further federal spening on their scientific programs would jeopardize the future well-being of our nation."