Fifty-seventh annual meeting of the American association of physicists in medicine
SU-E-P-19: A National Collaborative Academic Medical Physics Network: Structure, Activity and Outcomes
A national Australian inter-university medical physics (MP) group was formed in 2011/12, supported by Department of Health Better Access to Radiation Oncology BARO) seed funding. Core membership includes the six universities providing postgraduate MP courses. Objectives include increasing capacity, development and efficiency of national academic MP structures/systems and hence supporting education, clinical training and research, for the MP workforce support. Although the BARO scheme focuses on Radiation Oncology, the group has wider MP interests.
Two further BARO seed grants were achieved: 1) for networked academic activities, including shared-resource teaching, eg using virtual reality systems; MP outreach to schools and undergraduates; developing web-based student and registrar education/resources, etc.; and 2) for conjoint ‘translational research’ posts between universities and partner hospitals, to clinically progress advanced RT technologies and to support students and registrars. Each university received 0.5 FTE post from each grant over 2 years (total: $1.75M) and leveraged local additional partner funds.
Total funding: $4–5M. Overall there have been 35 (mainly overseas) postholders bringing specific expertise, beginning in early 2013. Periods in Australia have been from 0.25–2 years (median=1). As well as the education activities, research projects include lung/spine SBRT, 4D RT, FFF beams, technology assessment, complex treatment planning, imaging for radiation oncology, DIR, adaptive breast, datamining, radiomics,etc. Observed positive impacts include: increased interest in MP courses, training support, translational research infrastructure and/or clinical practice in the hospitals involved, plus increased collaboration and effectiveness between the universities. Posts are continuing beyond grant end using leveraged funds, providing the basis for sustainability of some posts.
The BARO-funded projects have cost-effectively produced a range of positive impacts on training, research and practice in hospitals and between universities. The evaluation of the specific post roles and activities, and their outcomes, has produced focused recommendations on continuation and sustainability.
Funding was from the Australian federal Department of Health; leveraged funding was from partner universities and hospitals