Arun Chougule, PhD
Chair, IOMP Accreditation Board
Reaccreditation visit to ICTP and Trieste University
The IOMP accreditation of medical physics education programs started in 2016 and the Master of Advanced Studies in Medical Physics (MMP) of ICTP and Trieste University was the first accredited program by IOMP accreditation board (AB) accredited for the three years period from 1 November 2016 –31 October 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person visits planned in February – March 2020 to ICTP could not take place and IOMP EXCOM extended the accreditation granted to MMP program until 31 December 2022, or the completion of re-accreditation visit by the Assessment Team (AT) of IOMP AB, whichever is earlier. Immediately after the COVID-19 situation improved and travel restrictions eased out, the IOMP AB-AT made a visit during 18 – 22 July 2022 to ICTP, Trieste University and participating hospitals and collaborating centers in residency training to access the facilities and equipment needed for appropriate training. During the visit, the AT interacted with the first year and second year students, assessed the logbooks, practical’s and also interacted with faculty & supervisors of the students.
BACKGROUND of MMP program
In 2013 the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and Trieste University announced the Master of Advanced Studies in Medical Physics (MMP), a two-year training programme in the field of medical physics, co-sponsored by the ICTP and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), supported by the International Organization for Medical Physics (IOMP), the European Federation of Organization for Medical Physics (EFOMP) and Associazione Italiana Fisica Medica (AIFM) and in collaboration with various hospitals in Italy.
The MMP course organizers applied for IOMP accreditation in 2016. The IOMP accreditation board assessed the documents submitted, the accessor team made visited the centre and hospitals and based on the quality of education and training recommended granting IOMP accreditation for the MMP program. The MMP course got official IOMP accreditation from 1 November 2016 to 31 October 2019, the first Medical Physics education course accredited by the IOMP.
The MMP programme is designed to provide young, promising graduates of physics or related fields (mainly from developing countries) with postgraduate theoretical and clinical training so that they serve as clinical medical physicists in their home countries.
The programme comprises a year of basic and advanced courses (taught in English) prepared with the assistance of experts from ICTP and IAEA. This is followed by a year of professional clinical training in a medical physics department of a hospital in the programme’s training network.
The aim is to help the development of MP in these countries, in order to equip MPs with the knowledge and skills that are essential elements for the setup of radiotherapy or imaging centres.
The first year is spent at ICTP, Trieste (Italy) while the second is dedicated to clinical professional training in a medical physics department of a hospital in the programme’s training network.
A strong pillar of this programme is the high level of the structured clinical training developed over 20 medical physics departments in various hospitals, and dedicated supervisors with their teams in Italy.
The MMP training programme considers the AFRA guidelines where a single year of clinical training is recommended after the completion of academic training, in order to address the severe lack of medical physicists in many (African/LMIC) countries.
Main observations of the AT on assessing the submitted documents and site visits
The two-year Master program is based on the different important educational and training documents of IAEA, IOMP and AFRA. ICTP, the Physics Department of the University Trieste, and clinical medical physicists from some of the hospitals from the clinical training’s network University Hospital of Trieste are responsible for the theoretical courses and exercises in the first year. The candidates are doing their training following a Master’s thesis in the second year at over 20 different accredited hospitals in Italy.
The program is well-designed, and the different assessment methods are clearly defined. The templates for the portfolio of evidence are described in detail. The supervisors and the coordinator of this program meet regularly and have discussions to improve the quality of this program where the feedback of the students is considered.
The accreditors would like to appreciate the efforts of coordinator of the programme, particularly for being able to get to so many hospitals into the programme and offer clinical training spots at their various establishments. Additionally, a large number of lecturers in the academic training programme, with their varied backgrounds and different assessment methods make this an interesting programme.
After assessing the submitted documents, verifying all the documents and facilities during the site visit, interacting with students, faculty, supervisors and feedback, the assessment team is fully satisfied that MMP course curriculum is designed to serve the need of LMI countries. The curriculum is based on IAEA documents [IAEA TCS 37,47, 50, AFRA] and IOMP curriculum. The excellent faculty, 20 hospitals for residency training with very experienced medical physics supervisors and team are taking care of training with dedication.
Based on the AT report IOMP has re-accreditation of the Master of Advanced Studies in Medical Physics (MMP) programme, being imparted by ICTP, Trieste University, and participating hospitals, for 5 years from 1 August 2022 to 31 July 2027.
Further, IOMP Accreditation Board has received re-accreditation applications of the IOMP accredited programmes from three Korean Universities (Catholic University, Yonsei University and KAIST) imparting medical physics education and training. The AT has accessed the document submitted and has planned the site visit to three institutes from 5 – 8 December 2022.
More details about IOMP accreditation can be found at https://www.iomp.org/accreditation/