While science is frequently considered a rigid discipline, recent times have highlighted the need for flexibility and adaptability in all areas of medical physics. Though COVID-19 forced our profession to creatively respond to external factors, opportunities exist for us to implement this type of creativity in our normal work environments on a regular basis. In this symposium, the speakers will discuss experiences with and opportunities for implementing creative change.
Parminder Basran, PhD – “Virtual Fellowships: A Novel Approach to Undergraduate Research Training and Mentorship” (Education Council)
For the summer of 2020, COVID-19 required the AAPM Summer Undergraduate Fellowship and Outreach Program to dramatically pivot from a conventional in-person undergraduate training experience to a virtual experience. Virtualizing fellowships forces a conscientious definition and refining of roles and responsibilities for the mentor, trainee, hosting institution and sponsors. Apart from the research experience itself, fellowship experiences include exposure to the clinical/research workplace, communicating with supervisors, researchers, non-physicists, residents, graduate students and fellow undergraduates, access to labs, equipment, and software, and the institution itself, by way of ‘on-boarding’ and such. While there are clear disadvantages of eliminating an in-person research experience, the successful virtualization of fellowships demonstrates many facets of the fellowship experience can indeed be provided online. This suggests virtual fellowships could become a novel vehicle for outreach to students currently unable to participate in this fellowship experience.
Maryellen Giger, PhD – "Extending AAPM Leadership to Advance Data Science in the Age of COVID-19" (Science Council)
MIDRC represents an NIBIB-funded partnership spearheaded by the medical imaging community and aimed at building data repositories to fuel COVID-19 machine intelligence research, coupled with optimal standardization, curation, and compliance with ethical responsibilities to honor patients' privacy. This partnership will lead to development and implementation of new diagnostics, including machine learning algorithms, that will empower population-wide preventive and management strategies for COVID-19. This leadership collaboration among the ACR, RSNA, and AAPM is based on each organization’s unique and complementary expertise within the medical imaging community, with AAPM bringing its expertise in physical image quality/harmonization and tailored distribution/metrology standards/evaluation metrics.
Brent Parker, PhD – “Sailing the High C’s” (Professional Council)
The concept of creativity tends to be associated with the research and educational areas of medical physics, with the professional realm being thought of as being unimaginative. However, the COVID-19 experience forced many of us to creatively adapt to a changed work environment without even realizing the creativity that adaptation required. As Professional Council discussed the theme of this symposium and how it applies to professional issues, we identified areas where medical physicists have creative opportunities. As the proverb says, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, or in this case, creativity. As we look to the future of our profession, professional creativity will be necessary to demonstrate our value to our employers, our colleagues, and our patients.
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