General Personnel Requirements: Medical Physicists/MR Scientists for CT, MRI, Nuclear Medicine and PET (Revised 12-12-19)
Modified on: Tue, 11 May, 2021 at 9:49 AM
In order to apply for accreditation, the facility must ensure and document that the personnel they use for the accredited modality meet ACR qualifications. Medical physicists (MPs) must provide this documentation to the accredited facility. Although the facility is not required to submit documentation of personnel qualifications as part of their accreditation application, they must have documentation on-site in the event of an ACR Site Visit.
There is no application process for ACR approval of an MP’s qualifications. Likewise, the ACR does not provide “letters of approval” to MPs verifying their qualifications. Please review your credentials against the relevant modality requirements to determine whether you meet the requirements for MPs.
Additional Information Regarding Initial Qualifications
As detailed in the modality-specific requirements tables, the criteria do not require that an MP be board-certified. Although the criteria do not specifically address state licensure, if an individual meets either the “Not Board Certified in Required Subspecialty” or the “Grandfathered” criteria for the modality, he/she will meet the ACR qualifications to perform annual surveys at accredited facilities.
Applicants working in a modality for which they are not board-certified must document 3 years of experience in the clinical environment of that modality, even if they are board-certified in a different modality. For example, an MP who is board certified in Diagnostic Imaging Physics meets initial requirements in MRI and CT; however, since he/she is not board certified in Medical Nuclear Physics, he/she must document 3 years of experience in a clinical nuclear medicine and PET environment to qualify under either the “Non-Board Certified” or “Grandfathered” options for that modality. This applicant must document a full 36 months of relevant experience in a clinical environment (as opposed to three partial-calendar-years of experience not totaling 36 months). The experience may be full- or part-time. There is no specific number of surveys required; however, the experience must include the performance of annual surveys of the relevant modality. Only providing QC oversight of others in the performance of these surveys will not be sufficient.
There are limitations on the amount of graduate training that may be counted toward the 3-year initial experience requirement. The ACR follows the experience requirements as set out by the ABR. The ABR will credit up to 6 months towards clinical experience to individuals graduating from a Master's level medical physics program that includes a clinical component, and up to 12 months to individuals graduating from a Doctoral level medical physics program that includes a clinical component. The ABR will recognize full-time credit for clinical experience obtained during residency training. For example, an individual completing a 2-year residency in diagnostic medical physics as part of an MS in medical physics could claim 2 years of clinical experience through the residency, plus 6 months of clinical experience from the Master’s program. In all such cases, additional experience would be necessary to bring the total initial experience to the 3-year requirement. Applicants completing the initial experience requirement after January 1, 2010, must obtain this experience under the supervision of an MP who meets the ACR accreditation program’s qualifications. No credit is given for:
Experience obtained as an undergraduate
Extracurricular experience gained before the graduate degree is awarded
Time spent in a residency until the residency is completed
Any experience that does not involve the evaluation of the broad performance of equipment required under ACR accreditation
Appropriate documentation for initial experience includes copies of annual survey reports within the time period with your name and date, or letters from supervisors or clients attesting to the individual’s clinical experience over a specified time period in a designated modality.
As detailed in the modality-specific requirements tables, the “Not Board Certified in Required Subspecialty” option requires a graduate degree in “medical physics, radiologic physics, physics, or other relevant physical science or engineering discipline.” Because these qualifications are for MPs, the relevancy must be to medical physics. A relevant physical science discipline is one that includes at least 3 graduate courses in medical physics. This is consistent with ABR requirements for Part 1 of the Radiologic Physics exam. Individuals from graduate programs that include an adequate number of courses in medical physics, and who also meet the continuing experience requirements, would meet the qualifications under the “Not Board Certified in Required Subspecialty” option.
MPs with certifications granted historically by the ABR (e.g. ‘Radiological Physics’) meet the ACR’s board certification requirements for CT, MRI, Breast MRI, nuclear medicine and PET.
The “Grandfathered” option requires that the MP conducted surveys of at least 3 units (in the applicable modality) between January 1, 2007 and January 1, 2010. To qualify, an individual must serve as the independent MP in the conduct of these surveys, taking responsibility for ensuring that the tests were performed correctly, and for reviewing and approving the results (as opposed to performing the surveys but having a qualified MP sign off on them, or signing off on the surveys along with a board-certified MP who takes final responsibility for them). The surveys may be of the same unit surveyed 3 times over a 3-year period, and may be of ACR-accredited or non-accredited units; however, the surveys must include all tests required in the accredited modality for the annual survey (as of January 1, 2010). The required tests are detailed in the relevant QC articles for CT, MRI, Nuclear Medicine, and PET.
Additional Information Regarding Continuing Experience
Upon renewal of the facility’s accreditation, MPs must meet the continuing experience requirements regardless of how they met their initial qualifications (i.e., through the “Board Certification,” the “Not Board Certified in Required Subspecialty” or the “Grandfathered” options). Newly qualified individuals have 24 months from the date of qualification to meet the continuing experience requirements. For example, an individual who is recently board-certified and therefore meeting the initial qualification requirements through a new option has 24 months from the date of board certification to complete the 2 surveys necessary to meet continuing experience requirements.
There are several acceptable ways to document continuing experience:
Survey reports (original, copy or summary sheets from the report)
Letter or memorandum from the facility where the survey was performed (on official facility letterhead) signed by a responsible facility official
Letter or memorandum from the medical physics company providing the service (on official company letterhead) signed by a responsible company official
If the experience was obtained under direct supervision, a signed letter or memorandum from the MP providing the direct supervision
All documentation must indicate name, number of facility and/or unit surveys performed, and dates on which they were performed.
An individual may perform 2 annual surveys on the same unit to re-establish continuing experience; however, surveys of the same unit must be at least 60 days apart. This is similar to the FDA regulations for mammography units. The reason the FDA did this is to provide more meaning to the repeat surveys. Doing them immediately after each other within a short time frame would most likely result in the same data and little valuable experience. Separating them over time would allow the MP to compare data and results (which may change over time) as well as experience the full set up of test equipment, thus increasing the value of the experience. These considerations hold true for other imaging systems as well as mammography.
Additional Information Regarding Continuing Education
Upon renewal of the facility’s accreditation, MPs must meet the continuing education requirements regardless of how they met their initial qualifications (i.e., through the “Board Certification,” the “Not Board Certified in Required Subspecialty” or the “Grandfathered” options).
Compliance with ABR MOC requirements satisfies continuing education requirements for the ACR accreditation programs (in the case of MRI only, compliance with ABMP MOC meets the ACR’s continuing education requirements if the medical physicist is certified by the ABMP in MRI physics).
The best way for an ABR medical physics diplomate to verify that he/she meets the requirement for the MOC pathway for continuing education is to obtain a “screenshot” of his/her ABR personal database. This page summarizes the individual’s MOC status.
An MP who received ABR certification before 2002 has lifetime certification and is not required by the ABR to participate in MOC; however, this lifetime certification does not fulfill the CEU/CME credit requirements for accreditation. If the MP voluntarily participates in MOC, then he or she would meet the continuing education requirements under the MOC pathway.
Individuals choosing to qualify through the CME option must document 15 CME credits within the last 36 months. This must include some credits pertinent to the relevant modality; however, the remaining credits may be in any other area that the applicant believes would benefit his/her professional continuing education. At least one half of the credits must be Category 1. Category A credits are not Category 1 credits and cannot be used in their place. Category A activities are developed for radiologic technologist continuing education, while Category 1 credits (either CAMPEP or ACCME) are developed for MPs and/or radiologists. Category A credits may be used for the non-Category 1 requirements.
Once the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) has completed their guidance on medical physicist extenders, the ACR physics subcommittees will review it and determine if changes to the current accreditation program requirements would be appropriate.
Revision History for this Article
Description of Revision(s)
Article created; FAQs incorporated; No criteria changes
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