Development of medical physics in the world as part of the radiology and radiotherapy – status, challenges and trends
Medical physicists, together with the medical specialists in medical imaging, radiotherapy, nuclear medicine, radiobiology, radiation safety and others, are an intrinsic part of the teams delivering diagnosis and treatment of many diseases, including cancer. The paper presents a brief overview of the global development of the healthcare work force dealing with medical physics in the period 1965-2015. The paper underlines the leading role of e-learning and other educational activities for the increasing of medical physicists globally – with double growth over the past 20 years. The paper also shows the important report of the Global Task Force on Radiotherapy for Cancer Control, published in Lancet Oncology in 2015, which makes scientific analysis and predicts the potential needs of medical physicists, radiologists, equipment and funding during 2035 in order to deliver effective global healthcare in the field of radiotherapy. This report predicts that during 2035 there will be necessary about 39,300 medical physicists to work in radiotherapy alone, what means that all medical physicists in 2035 will have to be above 60,000 (compared with a total of 24,000 in the beginning of 2015). This means that the overall number of medical physicists in 2035 will have to be 2-3 times more than during 2015. On this basis the paper, written by the President of the International Organization for Medical Physics (IOMP) in the period 2015-2018, underlines the main tasks and activities of the Organization in dealing with this significant challenge in front of the profession The listed activities are grouped in three areas/trends:
Development of educational programmes and initiatives;
Introduction of research in clinical practice and education;
Increasing the visibility of medical physicists and engineers.
The conclusion shows that these activities have been fruitful and the trend of development is right, these activities show that it will be possible to have such growth of the profession by 2035, as this is very important for global healthcare.
Key words: MEDICAL PHYSICS WORK FORCE. EDUCATIONАL PROGRAMMES. GLOBAL TASK FORCE ON RADIOTHERAPY FOR CANCER CONTROL. INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MEDICAL PHYSICS