TU-B-206-00: Do the Right Thing




To reacquaint the participant with foundational aspects of educational, healthcare and research ethics as they relate to the Medical Physicist day to day role.


Presenting recognized best practice guidelines and tenants applied to hypothetical scenarios and medical physics related occupations.


The application of recognized standards of ethical behavior result in beneficial outcomes for all involved


Ethics is multi-faceted in its manifestation application; most facets are applicable to any avenue a medical physicist may pursue in their career.

In its pure sense, ethics is the branch of philosophy that concerns itself with notions of right and wrong, particularly as applied to human behavior. Questions of ethics generally are different from and more challenging than questions of adherence to social norms, religious teachings or civil law. On a more pragmatic level, most professions have an established set of ethical standards to which those who practice the profession are expected to adhere, and a formal structure for sanctioning those practitioners who do not. Such is the case with Medical Physics and the AAPM's Code of Ethics.

This symposium will provide a brief refresher as to the philosophical grounding that informs the ethical practice of Medical Physics.

The study of ethics in general, and more specifically medical professional ethics, has a rich history. A framework for discussion of ethical questions, including common vocabulary and guiding concepts will be presented with an emphasis on tools that can be personalized and employed for guiding one's own practice. The connections will be explored between this conceptual framework and the form and substance of the AAPM's Code of Ethics, which is currently under review and revision. Finally there will be some discussion of the nature of struggles that have been observed over time as our membership of scientists and engineers attempt to find clarity in a realm of philosophy that is only very rarely amenable to logical analysis.

The attendee will be exposed to:

  • 1.The definition of ethics including comparisons to similar concepts such as law and morals.
  • 2.The concepts of ethical expectations of behavior and its origins
  • 3.Examples and choice analysis in the areas of research, education, and the clinic
  • 4.Practical application of methods to help avoid being placed in the situation where their ethical behavior is questioned as a medical physicist

Attendees should be able to:

  • 1.Understand the scope of the philosophical domain of ethics, and be familiar with core concepts and vocabulary.
  • 2.Recognize the broader considerations of ethical professional practice as they are captured in the AAPM Code of Ethics.
  • 3.Appreciate the non-linear, non-deterministic, context-sensitive nature of ethical considerations, and be able to more deeply appreciate the structural importance of compassion and empathy in human interaction.