Nuclear Medicine Physics Training: Findings of the AAPM/SNMMI Task Force

August 30, 2016

A summary of the findings and recommendations of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM)/Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) Joint Task Force report on the state of nuclear medicine physics training was published in the July issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Currently, there is a limited number of certified nuclear medicine physicists, and many of these may retire in the next 5-10 years. Nuclear medicine physicists seeking American Board of Radiology certification must complete an accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Medical Physics Educational Programs (CAMPEP). There is a critical need for CAMPEP-approved programs offering training in nuclear medicine. To encourage programs to expand into nuclear medicine physics, two AAPM/SNMMI Nuclear Medicine Residency Training Grants were awarded for 2016-2017.

The joint task force set forth the following recommendations:

  • The report should be provided as a guidance document for future efforts and be made widely available to interested individuals.
  • All nuclear medicine physics certifying bodies should incorporate formal residency training as a requirement for board certification as well as maintenance of qualification programs.
  • As the Joint Task Force was not able to provide an evaluation of future needs, a nuclear medicine physics work force committee should be formed to evaluate future needs in the field, perhaps under the AAPM Work Force Assessment Committee.
  • Relevant professional organizations should continue to fund residency training in nuclear medicine physics to encourage new and established imaging residency programs to incorporate nuclear medicine physics training into their programs.

These recommendations were based on a combination of several factors:

  • the high median age of qualified nuclear medicine physicists;
  • the poorly understood training and certification processes; and
  • the shortage of formal training programs.

“Well-trained medical physicists are essential to the future on nuclear medicine,” stated Frederic H. Fahey, DSc, a member of the task force representing SNMMI. “Their contributions help advance the field and ensure the highest quality patient care.”   

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JNM article: The Current State of Nuclear Medicine Physics Training: Findings of the AAPM/SNMMI Task Force

Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics article: AAPM/SNMMI Joint Task Force: report on the current state of nuclear medicine physics training

HARKNESS, Beth A. et al. AAPM/SNMMI Joint Task Force: report on the current state of nuclear medicine physics training. Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics, [S.l.], v. 16, n. 5, sep. 2015. ISSN 15269914.