AAPM BTSC Report 377: Physicist Brachytherapy Training in 2021-A survey of therapeutic medical physics residency program directors.

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Journal of applied clinical medical physics [electronic resource] / American College of Medical Physics


swedish, washington


BACKGROUND: Brachytherapy (BT) was the first radiotherapeutic technique used to treat human disease and remains an essential modality in radiation oncology. A decline in the utilization of BT as a treatment modality has been observed and reported, which may impact training opportunities for medical physics residents. A survey of therapeutic medical physics residency program directors was performed as part of an assessment of the current state of BT training during residency.

METHODS: In March 2021, a survey consisting of 23 questions was designed by a working unit of the Brachytherapy Subcommittee of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) and approved for distribution by the Executive Committee of the AAPM. The survey was distributed to the directors of the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs (CAMPEP)-accredited therapeutic medical physics residency programs by the AAPM. The participant response was recorded anonymously in an online platform and then analyzed using MATLAB and Microsoft Excel software.

RESULTS: The survey was distributed to the program directors of 110 residency programs. Over the course of 6 weeks, 72 directors accessed the survey online, and 55 fully completed the survey. Individual responses from the directors (including partial submissions) were evaluated and analyzed. Nearly all participating programs (98%) utilize high dose rate BT treatments with 74% using low dose rate BT techniques. All programs treated gynecological sites using BT, and the next most common treatment sites were prostate (80%) and breast (53%). Overall, the residency program directors had a positive outlook toward BT as a radiotherapeutic treatment modality. Caseload and time limitations were identified as primary barriers to BT training by some programs.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on the responses of the program directors, it was identified that the residency programs might benefit from additional resources such as virtual BT training, interinstitutional collaborations as well as resident fellowships. Programs might also benefit from additional guidance related to BT-specific training requirements to help program directors attest Authorized Medical Physicist eligibility for graduating residents.

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