Development of a residency program in radiation oncology physics: An inverse planning approach

Rao F.H. Khan, Peter B. Dunscombe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Over the last two decades, there has been a concerted effort in North America to organize medical physicists' clinical training programs along more structured and formal lines. This effort has been prompted by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs (CAMPEP) which has now accredited about 90 residency programs. Initially the accreditation focused on standardized and higher quality clinical physics training; the development of rounded professionals who can function at a high level in a multidisciplinary environment was recognized as a priority of a radiation oncology physics residency only lately. In this report, we identify and discuss the implementation of, and the essential components of, a radiation oncology physics residency designed to produce knowledgeable and effective clinical physicists for today's safety-conscious and collaborative work environment. Our approach is that of inverse planning, by now familiar to all radiation oncology physicists, in which objectives and constraints are identified prior to the design of the program. Our inverse planning objectives not only include those associated with traditional residencies (i.e., clinical physics knowledge and critical clinical skills), but also encompass those other attributes essential for success in a modern radiation therapy clinic. These attributes include formal training in management skills and leadership, teaching and communication skills, and knowledge of error management techniques and patient safety. The constraints in our optimization exercise are associated with the limited duration of a residency and the training resources available. Without compromising the knowledge and skills needed for clinical tasks, we have successfully applied the model to the University of Calgary's two-year residency program. The program requires 3840 hours of overall commitment from the trainee, of which 7%-10% is spent in obtaining formal training in nontechnical "soft skills".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-582
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of applied clinical medical physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


  • Education
  • Medical physics
  • Residency
  • Soft skills
  • Training


Dive into the research topics of 'Development of a residency program in radiation oncology physics: An inverse planning approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this