November 7 was the 3rd annual International Day of Medical Physics and a time to celebrate the medical physicists. Every day – often behind the scenes – medical physicists fulfill a variety of roles that ensure the safe and effective delivery of radiation therapy and diagnostic imaging. That means they directly impact the health and lives of patients, from the colon cancer patient undergoing external beam radiation therapy to the retired grandfather having brachytherapy for prostate cancer to the mother of two getting her yearly mammogram to the five-year-old boy who fell off his bike and may have a broken arm. They are the experts in physics, which is central to radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer, and the development and advancement of medical imaging techniques.
The majority of medical physicists work within or contract with a hospital or healthcare system where they create innovations to improve patient care by making it more effective and safer. Medical physicists perform quality assurance and quality control. In other words, they ensure that all medical imaging and radiation equipment functions at optimal levels, and that procedures and treatments are accurately calibrated and, therefore, safe.
As part of the patient-care team, medical physicists work closely with radiation therapists, oncologists and other providers to design and develop personalized treatment plans. Working with radiation oncologists they ensure cancer patients receive the prescribed dose of radiation therapy, targeted to the cancerous cells, while protecting healthy tissue. Medical physicists often consult with patients about the benefits and potential risks of radiation dose and medical imaging.
Standard Imaging is proud to assist medical physicists and honored to be an important part of their work. Medical physicists continually look for ways to incorporate new physics discoveries into new treatment plans for patients, whether it involves gold nanoparticles, proton therapy or software that helps doctors design therapy personalized for each patient – for example by determining what treatments will be most effective. In other words, medical physicists play a crucial role in the evolution of medicine and patient care.