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IAEA Hosts Virtual Meeting, Webinars to Improve Education and Training of Radiographers in Europe and Central Asia


IAEA training for radiographers includes practical, hands-on sessions. The photo was taken at a training course in early 2020 (before the COVID-19 lockdown) at the University of Latvia using IAEA equipment provided under the national project LAT0003.  (Photo: A. Bajinskis/University of Latvia)

Thirty professionals working in radiography convened to share experiences in radiation protection training and to discuss challenges and ways to improve the knowledge, skills and competence of radiographers in Europe and Central Asia. Radiographers, also called medical radiation technologists, are health professionals who perform radiological procedures in X-ray imaging, nuclear medicine and radiotherapy. Radiographers act as the interface between the patient and the radiological equipment and are responsible for the quality of medical radiological procedures and the radiation protection of patients.

The three-day meeting in November 2020 brought together participants and experts from the European Federation of Radiographer Societies (EFRS). In early 2020, the IAEA surveyed countries in Europe and Central Asia to identify the status of education and training of radiographers, focusing on gaps and good practices in radiation protection training related to clinical practice. More than 100 responses from 23 countries demonstrated that differences existed in the region regarding the education of radiographers, as well as in the content included in basic and postgraduate training programmes.

“These findings call for the need to develop an action plan to improve the education and training of radiographers in radiation protection, as a tool to harmonize clinical practice and contribute to the safety of patients and staff in medical imaging and radiotherapy,” said Graciano Paulo of the Coimbra Medical School in Portugal. Paulo was involved in developing and analysing the survey results.

Participants at the online regional meeting agreed that actions were needed to address the results of the survey. “I learned about the current situation with radiographers' education and training on radiation protection and safety, and I had the possibility to discuss practical solutions for different issues with colleagues from other countries,” said Ainārs Bajinskis, Head of the Radiography programme at the University of Latvia.

In addition to the virtual meeting, the IAEA and EFRS organized three webinars, 1-3 December 2020, to disseminate the results of the survey and the meeting discussions to a broader audience. The webinars highlighted the importance of education and training for radiographers and included a session with Russian-speaking international experts.

“The European Federation of Radiographer Societies (EFRS) is very happy to continue and enhance collaboration with the IAEA across a range of activities linked to radiation protection and the best practice in the use of medical ionizing radiation,” said Jonathan McNulty, EFRS President. “The recent, successful online IAEA Regional Meeting on Radiation Protection Education and Training of Medical Radiation Technologists/Radiographers in late November and early December brought together large numbers of participants under this IAEA TC programme… This regional meeting followed a very positive year of collaboration between the EFRS and the IAEA, which resulted in over 17 000 individuals registering for the EFRS Radiation Protection Webinar Series.”

The meeting and three webinars were developed as part of an IAEA regional technical cooperation project to enhance Member States' capabilities to ensure the radiation protection of individuals undergoing medical exposure.

In addition to the training activities organized under regional and national technical cooperation projects, the IAEA provides variety of learning resources for radiation protection in medical uses of ionizing radiation, all freely available from the Radiation Protection of Patients website. This includes training material, eLearning and professional development, and webinars. In 2020, two series of webinars were organized by EFRS in collaboration with the IAEA, dedicated to radiotherapy and computed tomography (CT). A further series of four joint webinars between the IAEA and EFRS dedicated to nuclear medicine is planned for 2021

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