The role of the BSA medical physicist

The medical physicists have a number of areas of responsibility.

They include, but are not limited to:

  • ensuring the mammographic quality assurance (MQA) programme is of the required standard and is operating effectively
  • ensuring all imaging and ancillary equipment is covered by the MQA programme (eg, X-ray equipment, reporting stations, CR plate readers, localisation devices, ultrasound imagers and hard-copy devices)
  • being a member of the breast screening site MQA committee, which will meet quarterly to review results and annually to review the QA programme
  • performing the medical physics quality control tests
  • ensuring the performance and calibration of quality control test equipment
  • performing acceptance testing on new imaging and associated equipment prior to its use on women
  • assisting the quality control medical radiation technologists (MRT) in the review of MRT quality control test data
  • advising the quality control MRT on all matters concerning image quality and the MQA programme
  • advising the designated MQA radiologist, specifically in the areas of image quality and all aspects of the MQA programme, safety and equipment purchase
  • advising the lead provider manager and/or clinical director specifically in the areas of safety, quality control analysis and equipment purchase, including the preparation of equipment specifications
  • cooperating with all others involved in the programme
  • cooperating with other medical physicists working in BreastScreen Aotearoa (BSA)
  • providing radiation protection advice to the screening unit, particularly the licensee, and ensuring the radiation safety of the women, staff and members of the public
  • ensuring regulatory compliance.

Where a provider employs more than one medical physicist, there must be a designated lead medical physicist.

Qualifications

Medical physicists who are providing services to BSA must satisfy the following criteria:

  • be explicitly trained in the physics of mammography and in the philosophy of breast screening. Approved courses agreed by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) and the Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM) and practices are provided by the ACPSEM. Other internationally recognised courses (eg, those provided in the USA by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine/American College of Radiology (ACR) and in the UK by the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine) are acceptable. To be acceptable, a course must contain a minimum of 20 contact hours of documented, specialised training in conducting surveys of mammography facilities. Time must also be spent visiting established screening units in order to gain practical experience working with physicists in the field, including a minimum of eight hours’ training in digital mammography
  • be an appropriately licensed medical physicist under the Radiation Protection Act 1965
  • hold a masters degree or a higher qualification in physics
  • have recognised, documented, specialised training in conducting surveys of mammography facilities as per ACR or RANZCR Standards
  • have experience of conducting surveys of at least six machines over a 12-month period (ie, six machines, two tests per machine, each six months apart within BSA) – experience conducting surveys must be acquired under the direct supervision of a medical physicist who meets all the requirements of the NPQS
  • where experience has been gained overseas, two supervised surveys are required as part of the orientation to BSA protocols and standards.

Professional requirements

A full description of the professional requirements for medical physicists working the in the BSA programme is in criterion 8.15 of the National Policy & Quality Standards (NPQS).

Page last updated: 01 December 2014