SU-F-E-17: A Dedicated Teaching and Research Linac as a Stepping Stone to Introduce Medical Physics to Students

Authors


Abstract

Purpose:

This work describes how a non-clinical, research and teaching Linac is used as an extremely motivating and exciting way to introduce students to medical physics.

Methods:

The dedicated facility was inaugurated in 2014. The facility is composed of a fully equipped and functional state-of-the-art Varian TrueBeam Linac and a complete set of physics instruments and QA phantoms for the Linac and onboard imaging. The Linac bunker and treatment console are oversized such that a class of 12–15 can comfortably fit, seated if needed for longer sessions. A 3cr undergraduate laboratory course that includes medical imaging, x-ray source characterization (mAs, kVp, and filtering) and many others including an introductory Linac laboratory was created. The latter is composed of one general 4-hours session and a weekly 4-hours session for teams of two students. The general session includes a hands-on presentation of the Linac, its environment and a formal safety and radiation protection course (with an exam).

Results:

Since the winter of 2015, senior undergraduate (total of 15) pursuing either the medical physics or the biomedical engineering tracks can register. At the Linac, the students are allowed full control of the experiments, including set-up and irradiation. Supervisor intervention is limited to safety concerns for students or equipment. Measurements of output factors using two chambers (regular and small field) for various field sizes (1×1 to 30×30 cm2) and of detailed depth-dose curves for 6 MV, 6 and 12 MeV beams are to be performed and discussed in a formal report.

Conclusion:

Full access to, and control of, a Linac is the high point of this course. It provides a glimpse of medical physics and generates an experimental background for those continuing to CAMPEP programs. This dedicated, non-clinical facility further enable enhance CAMPEP graduate teaching and research activities not possible with a clinical device.

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