Newswise — In the 1990s, a wave of emigration swept through Russia and Eastern Europe. Hundreds of highly-trained nuclear physicists and engineers left because of the political and economic situation and moved to the West in search of better opportunities. Many of these scientists now work in the United States as medical physicists -- the behind-the-scenes professionals who design and manage radiation therapy equipment and work with oncologists to design medical treatment plans.
These immigrant scientists, who have become key members of prominent health institutions, recently lifted their glasses to toast the first anniversary of the Society of Euro-American Medical Physicists (SEAMP). The organization has created a network of physicists working in healthcare that stretches across nine countries and works to promote the international exchange of technology and skills.
"The Society has become an international network of highly qualified experts in radiation medicine united by dedication to our profession and willingness for information exchange and cooperation. A lot of companies developing equipment for treatment and diagnostics are actively working in the East-European market. We hope to be appropriate partners by providing independent expertise, setting up projects to purchase of new equipment, and training staff," said Victor Gurvich, President of SEAMP.
On July 20 more than a hundred medical physicists, researchers, developers, and manufacturers of medical equipment from the United States, Canada, Russia, and Europe, as well as guests from Asia and Latin America, attended the first SEAMP party, held at Moriarty’s Restaurant in Philadelphia in conjunction with a meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM).
The AAPM meeting brought together thousands of scientists and health care professionals in the field of radiation medicine from July 18-22 to share the latest developments in medical imaging and radiation therapy, examine new clinical and laboratory data, and discuss many of the ethical and regulatory issues facing the field today. AAPM is an international organization of united medical physicists from more than 70 countries that supports SEAMP's mission to promote cooperation between medical physicists from various countries.
At the SEAMP dinner, invited guests highlighted the role of medical physicists in assuring patient safety. Medical physicists are involved in the development of new imaging techniques, improve existing ones, and assure the safety of radiation used in medical procedures in radiology, radiation oncology and nuclear medicine. They provide routine quality assurance and quality control of radiation equipment and procedures to ensure that cancer patients receive the prescribed dose of radiation to the correct location. Medical physicists also contribute to the development of intensive therapeutic techniques, such as stereotactic radiosurgery and prostate seed implants for cancer.
"We anticipate that SEAMP will foster different projects directed at enhancing Patient Safety as a critical aspect of Health Care Quality. We are planning developments and studies leading to the prevention of human errors, system errors, patient injuries, and the consequences of such adverse events in the healthcare setting," said Leonid Massarski, Chair of SEAMP's Technological Applications Committee and a Medical Physicist at the Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, Torrington, CT.
Colleagues mingled between speeches from Prof. Dr. Fridtjof Nüsslin, President of the International Organization for Medical Physics, Anthony Seibert, President-Elect of AAPM, and William Hendee, editor of the journal Medical Physics and founder of the National Patient Safety Foundation. Presidents and top managers of the world's leading medical equipment companies (the cooperative members and sponsors of SEAMP) made brief presentations.
"Most important was the social networking that took place," said SEAMP Secretary Britta Steele. "Our guests listened intently to speeches and the room was buzzing all evening with great conversations and exchanges of contact information to build long-lasting relationships 'across the pond' and around the world."
This event was sponsored by Elekta, Tomotherapy, Sun Nuclear, CIRS, Inc., as well as Standard Imaging, MIMvista, Orfit Industries America, WFR-Aquaplast and Q-fix Systems, Oncura, CNMC, and GAMMEX, Inc. Guests met with old beloved friends and made new ones, enjoying informal chats, delicious food, and beautiful music while relaxing in an amicable atmosphere.
For more information, visit: http://seamp.org