Replies about MP3.0 to common questions from medical physicists and the public

General Inquiries

What is MP3.0?

Icon Arrow BottomIcon Closed Accordion

Driven by economical, technological, and regulatory forces, health care is undergoing a period of rapid transformation, representing both great challenges and great opportunities for the discipline of medical physics. To ensure the sustainable and impactful contribution of medical physics to human health, it is integral that the field should meet these challenges head on. To this end, Medical Physics 3.0 (MP3.0) is an initiative of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) tasked with devising strategic guidance in this landscape. 

MP3.0 aims toward sustainable excellence by a stronger focus on the patient (as opposed to the technology) and by harnessing a scientific, service, and system-minded orientation to tailor medical interventions for greater precision and patient-specificity. For the complete description, please see the excellent presentation “What is Medical Physics 3.0” in the virtual library or check out our white paper in Medical Physics🔒.

What is MP1.0 and how is it different from MP3.0?

Icon Arrow BottomIcon Closed Accordion

Medical physics is one of the foundational disciplines behind radiology and radiation oncology. Remember Roentgen! Medical physicists have done great things in terms of applying physics to designing technologies with superior performance; ensuring the intrinsic performance of equipment; ensuring accurate therapeutic dosimetry; and claiming compliance and accreditation. None of these are small things - they are GREAT things and we refer to them as “Medical Physics 1.0 (MP1.0)”.

But what is missing? We can speak in-depth and at length about physical performance, but we shy away from talking much about clinical performance. If something is off by 5%-10%, what does that mean clinically for the patient? Where did 5%-10% come from? We do not optimize equipment; equipment comes to us with many opportunities to do so it but this is not typically done. With many opportunities to change things, we have added to the variability of the operation rather than the optimization of the operation. This results in little consistency in the care that we provide from one facility to another and even from one machine to another.

MP3.0 is an extension/progression of MP1.0. MP3.0 aligns with the current aim in medicine toward high-quality, consistent, patient-centric, evidential, precise, and safe healthcare. MP3.0 shifts the focus from equipment to operation; from specification to performance; from quality checks to consistency; from presumption of utility to actual utility; and from compliance to excellence. It changes the focus from “Physics IN Medicine”to “Physics FOR Medicine” (physicists in a clinical role) or “Physics OF Medicine”(physicists in a scientific role).

Why MP3.0 instead of MP2.0?

Icon Arrow BottomIcon Closed Accordion

Medical Physics 2.0 (MP2.0) WAS an initiative, but purely focused on imaging in publications as well as dozens of presentations from 2011-2015 at RSNA and AAPM meetings. In light of this and to broaden its scope to include radiation therapy and more, MP3.0 was the logical evolution. Additionally, an ACR imaging 3.0 movement exists that we wanted to closely align with.

How is the MP3.0 Committee structured? What are its deliverables?

Icon Arrow BottomIcon Closed Accordion

The MP3.0 Committee is composed of and informed by the goals of seven “Smart” interrelated subcommittees as described and illustrated below:

MP3.0 aims for comprehensive transformative medical physics. It is physics for every single patient receiving any kind of treatment or diagnostic care (the focus of the Smart Practice Subcommittee). In order to enable this transformative practice of medical physics, expert competent practitioners are needed (Smart Practitioners Subcommittee). Practitioners need to be informed and properly resourced, with a significant component of this being relevant tools that enable the most efficient practice of medical physics (Smart Tools Subcommittee). These three key components of MP3.0 - the practice, the practitioner, and the tools - need to be anchored and justified based on good guidelines and regulations (Smart Regulations Subcommittee).

Assuming the above are all done well, it is important to make others aware of the value medical physicists bring to healthcare. This involves advocacy to patients, to other healthcare peers, and to administrators (Smart Advocacy Subcommittee). Within this overall landscape, it is also important to be mindful that the MP3.0 Committee is not the sole arbiter of excellence in the field; strong grassroots with working medical physicists in the field is needed to both be informed by them and also to provide them with support and assistance (Smart Grassroots Subcommittee). Finally, medical physics is not a static field but rather a progressive advancing one continually expanding its domain of expertise (Smart Expansion Subcommittee).

To see the specific charges of each subcommittee and their current objectives, please visit the subcommittee page.

How is MP3.0 different than MPLA?

Icon Arrow BottomIcon Closed Accordion

MPLA (Medical Physics Leadership Academy) 🔒, while also an AAPM initiative, is distinct and separate from MP3.0. This is most notable in that MP3.0 is working on the organizational level; MPLA is working on the personal level.

Who is MP3.0 for?

Icon Arrow BottomIcon Closed Accordion

MP3.0 is for EVERYONE. For practicing medical physicists, whether established or new to the field, it is an opportunity to reflect on what we do and how we do it. In some ways it is the chance to re-imagine and re-evaluate one’s daily routine as a medical physicist: Have you optimized what you are doing? How can you be more efficient - can you hand something off or stop doing something because there is no longer a reason to do it? It is easy to continue doing something because you always have or because it has always been done a certain way. MP3.0's purpose in part is for introspection: technology changes, tools change, philosophies change, regulations change; for everyone outside medical physics, it is a “peek under the hood”.

What is MP3.0 working on now?

Icon Arrow BottomIcon Closed Accordion

MP3.0 currently has a number of projects underway including a webinar and podcast series on MP3.0 topics, creating a repository of tools and resources in an easily searchable format, and developing workshop materials. The best place to see our current action items is to check out our MP3.0 roadmap on Trello.

Personal Impact of MP3.0

As a medical physicist, how do I best implement MP3.0?

Icon Arrow BottomIcon Closed Accordion

How each physicist interprets the principles of MP3.0 and decides what it means to them will be personal and unique to their situation based on areas of interests, skills/expertise, work/life balance, view of the future, needs of their clinic/community, etc.

On a higher level, some key guiding principles are:

  1. Be engaged and form good working relationships with your entire department and beyond - not just other medical physicists.
  2. Be generous with your time and knowledge. For example, try reaching a wider audience with simple, fun “How-To” videos.
  3. Be the “scientist in the room”. Maintain your curiosity/beginner’s mindset. Make an impact on an area that is seen as outside “traditional” medical physics.
  4. Commit to continuing education in a variety of workshops on AI, biostatistics, or quality and safety so the range of problems you are able tackle - and thus your value - expands.
  5. Take initiative. Be a leader in your sphere of influence regardless of your current job title. Do so by developing leadership& management skills (see MPLA) 🔒 or test drive unfamiliar technology and procedures.

Finally, and in summary: be patient. Start small, as it may take time to find your own MP3.0 niche.

For more detailed information on MP3.0 principles, opportunities, examples, and inspirations visit the “Good practices”, “Opportunities for Growth”, “Inspiring Stories”, and “New & Highlights” sections of this site.

My clinical workload is already high, how can I find time for MP3.0?

Icon Arrow BottomIcon Closed Accordion

As the fields of radiation oncology and diagnostic radiology evolve, technologies and commercial products will continue to become more robust and automated. While the safe and effective implementation of these vendor-provided technologies will remain the responsibility of the clinical medical physicist, the time required for maintaining these systems and performing quality assurance will likely decrease. When these technologies will enter your specific workplace may not be under your control, but they are coming. Therefore, medical physicists need to be prepared. Start small. Look for opportunities to establish new responsibilities that have a meaningful impact on patient care as routine activities become well established and less time-consuming.

How can I get updates on MP3.0 activities?

Icon Arrow BottomIcon Closed Accordion

Visiting this website frequently is a great way to keep current with MP3.0 activities! In addition, follow the MP3.0 Twitter @MedPhys3_0 and the AAPM Twitter @aapmHQ. Some announcements pertaining to MP3.0 will be made in AAPM member emails and newsletter articles as well as on other AAPM social media accounts. If you’re Tweeting MP3.0-related content, be sure to tag us and use #MedPhys30!

Where can I find resources to implement MP3.0 in my clinic/education program/residency program/my own career?

Icon Arrow BottomIcon Closed Accordion

Medical physicists working their way through graduate school, followed by residency and an established career, are frequently in search of resources to help them grow. These include educational materials, QA instructional materials, and quality management tools. The Smart Tools Subcommittee is continually adding to a growing repository of such resources in an easily searchable format; visit the Smart Tools section of this website for more information.

Does MP3.0 envision that - outside of radiology, nuclear medicine, and radiation oncology - medical physicists could play an increased role in other fields? Is AAPM working toward that kind of a vision?

Icon Arrow BottomIcon Closed Accordion

YES! As medicine becomes increasingly high-tech, medical physicists could aid in improved patient care in every area of healthcare. MP3.0 is actively exploring collaborations with disciplines like surgery and cardiology and investigating ways for medical physicists to support and enhance the use of technologies like optics, informatics, and image guidance beyond the traditional radiation-based disciplines and techniques. There are already medical physicists working in these areas, and we are focusing on identifying roles and practices that could be implemented more widely in medical physics education, training, research, and clinical practice. For additional details, see the work of the Smart Expansion Subcommittee.