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Analysis and Practical Use: The Abt Study of Medical Physicist Work Values for Radiation Oncology Physics Services—Round II

Journal of the American College of Radiology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jacr.2005.02.009
  • Manpower
  • Work Units
  • Staffing
  • Medical Physics Costs
  • Radiation Oncology Costs
  • Biology
  • Economics
  • Medicine


Purpose The initial Abt Study of Medical Physicist Work Values for Radiation Oncology Physics Services was published in October 1995. That study measured qualified medical physicist (QMP) work associated only with routine radiation oncology procedures. In the intervening years, medical physics practice has changed dramatically. Three-dimensional treatment planning, once considered a special procedure, is the standard of care for many patient presentations. Prostate seed brachytherapy, stereotactic procedures, and intensity-modulated radiation therapy now constitute a large portion of the time medical physicists devote to clinical duties. Special procedures now dominate radiation oncology, leading to the request for an updated work and staffing study for qualified medical physicists. Methods The updated Abt Study of Medical Physicist Work Values for Radiation Oncology Physics Services: Round II was published in June 2003. Round II measures and reports QMP work associated with both routine and most contemporary special procedures. Additionally, staffing patterns are reported for a variety of practice settings. Results A work model is created to allow medical physicists to defend QMP work on the basis of both routine and special procedures service mix. The work model can be used to develop a cost justification report for setting charges for radiation oncology physics services. The work and cost justification models may in turn be used to defend medical physicist staffing and compensation. Conclusion The updated Abt study empowers medical physicists to negotiate service or employment contracts with providers on the basis of measured national QMP work force and staffing data.

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