Physicist Renato Dimenstein at the opening of the American Congress of Medical Physics

Posted on: 2019-08-13

The 61st Congress of the American Association of Medical Physicians (AAPM) was held on July 14-19. The event was held at the San Antonio Convention Center, Texas (USA), attended by over 2,000 people. 

The opening section was coordinated by Dr. Cari Boras (Spain), where the experience of several countries in the certification process for physicists in the medical area was discussed. The international panel was presented to discuss the professional accreditation processes in Europe, North America (including Canada), Africa, East (including Oceania and Latin America). 

Physicist Renato Dimenstein was present at the opening presenting the Certification processes of 13 countries of the Latin America, including Central America and the Caribbean. The study was prepared along with Dr. Paulo Roberto Costa, from the USP Institute of Physics. The presentation involved the survey of the number of physicists with title in the medical field in Brazil, as well as a whole study with data collection in hospitals, comparisons of performance in the areas of radiotherapy, nuclear medicine and radiodiagnosis. To quantify the distribution of physicists in the region, an electronic form was prepared by Dr. Simone K. Dias (IRD / CNEN) and sent via Google form to colleagues in AL. 

Participation in this event was made possible by the Brazilian Association of Medical Physics (ABFM), which maintains cooperation with medical societies such as the Radiological Society of São Paulo (SPR), Brazilian College of Radiology (CBR) and Brazilian Society of Nuclear Medicine (SBMN) among others, which help to strengthen the actions of the area – unlike other countries, this cooperation is capillarized here.

The presentation is very important, given the recent history of Medical Physics in Brazil: the regulation of the Physics profession happened only last year. While in the United States there are about 10,000 physically qualified physicists, this number drops to just 700, as in Spain and Canada. We currently have 14 training centers with residency in medical physics – 32 places are for improvement, and most are in radiotherapy, according to the legislation. There are nearly 30,000 certified physicists in the world, and only 4% of these are operating in Latin America. Interestingly, 65% of certified physicists in Latin America work in Brazil.

How does the certification test work?

There are two types of proof: one is from the National Nuclear Energy Commission to obtain the license of Radiological Protection Supervisor, where you have to prove 230 hours of courses to apply for proof. The second certification process is as a Medical Physics specialist issued by ABFM, which requires 3,200 hours of improvement. The title obtained may be that of Radiotherapy Specialist, Nuclear Medicine or Radiology. Legally in Brazil the requirement is for radiotherapy, so most Medical Physicians in Brazil are in this area.

The interest of the International Atomic Energy Agency in the Brazilian process is due to the incentive that the country can exercise in other places in Latin America to also carry out the certification, as most have only the master’s degree and a certificate from the regulatory agency of each parents. Moreover, the requirement here is quite high: last year there were 60 applicants and none were approved. The focus is on the quality of those who are approved.

Importance for the area and for Latin Safe

According to Dr. Dimenstein, this has all happened thanks to the community’s efforts to get closer to Radiologists, the Health Surveillance Agency and the Ministry of Health. This also helps Latin Safe, as physicists have the opportunity to be part of radiology and present his work.

At this time, ABFM, in partnership with CBR, is completing the first physics module – there will be five web-based continuing education modules for residents for free.

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