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QA & Dosimetry Symposium Speaker Spotlight: Bruce Curran, M.S., M.E.

January 22, 2016

Bruce Curran, M.S., M.E.

Once upon a time, the Medical Physicist was a partner with the RadiationOncologist and other members of the clinical team. He or she was seen as someone with the intellectual capital to improve the diagnosis and treatment of the patient.

Today, the physicist is viewed more as a technician, relegated to the back room, and not taking an active role in the imaging and treatment process.

Physicists are partially to blame. Many of us were quite content to sit in that back room, interacting only with our computers.

We didn't recognize the importance of interacting with patients, physicians, and administrators. Instead, we expected our technical brilliance to be sufficient for the rest of the world to understand our value.

Now we know that being proficient with ArcCHECK or 3DVH is not enough. We have to do a better job of being visible in order to be recognized for the contributions we bring. If we don't, we will continue to be targets for layoffs and relegation to more minor roles. That's the outcome when we are viewed only as very expensive quality assurance technicians who don't directly contribute to effectively imaging and treating the patient. Perhaps more importantly, we will not be using our skills to their full potential towards the improvement of healthcare.

In 2016, AAPM will work to bring this problem to the forefront. Our goal is to improve the perception of the importance of the medical physicist in the eyes of the clinical team, administrators, and in our own eyes as physicists.

My QADS talk will be part of this effort. I'll discuss the problem, then share practical tips to help medical physicists better communicate their value and eventually take a more active role in patient imaging and treatment.

QADS is a great venue to have this discussion — it's a small enough to allow attendees and speakers to interact. I look forward to learning what other groups are doing, and more importantly, listening to what questions people ask.

It's a great way for me to keep in touch with what's going on and get other people's opinions.

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