• English
  • العربية
  • 中文
  • Français
  • Русский
  • Español

You are here

Promoting Hard Science with Soft Skills: IAEA Training Course Focuses on Developing Leadership Skills for Nuclear Medicine Professionals


More than 1000 nuclear medicine professionals are presently employed at healthcare facilities and clinics in 30 African countries. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

The delivery of nuclear medicine services relies on the availability of well-trained staff, capable of operating complex imaging devices, understanding test results and interpreting images. Equally important, however, is the role played by managers and leaders, able to synchronize and integrate the resources needed for nuclear imaging—staff development, finances, infrastructure, hospital administration and community support.

From 21 to 25 March, the IAEA held a training course to imbue participants with the soft skills and core competencies, management techniques and leadership qualities needed to enhance the quality of nuclear medicine services.

“Leadership skills can help in ensuring that services are of the highest quality, and they can help to facilitate the expansion of services,” said Khalid Makhdomi, a Nuclear Medicine Physician at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Kenya, whose capital city has two nuclear medicine facilities. “This training has helped me to develop skills related to effective communication, team-player capabilities, planning and conflict resolution, amongst others.”

Benefitting from the guidance and experience of IAEA experts and four international facilitators from Algeria, South Africa and the United States, the week-long training course began with lectures, establishing basic leadership principles in clinical settings. Through expert presentations and interactive discussions, the 21 attending nuclear medicine professionals explored the newest approaches to problem identification, decision-making, team building, communication and staff development.

Recognizing the vital role played by engaged leaders and managers, 21 nuclear medicine professionals from across Africa met at IAEA HQ to explore the newest approaches to decision-making, team-building, communication and staff development. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

Taking Stock of Progress

Nuclear medicine and molecular imaging play an indispensable role in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, and in the last 10 years, these medical fields have experienced consistent development and growth in Africa.

Today, more than 1000 nuclear medicine professionals are employed in Africa at healthcare facilities and clinics in 30 countries. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans—a highly-sensitive imaging technique used in oncology, cardiology and neurology—is already available in six countries, and the IAEA is working to help introduce advanced imaging services to other countries in the region, through the technical cooperation (TC) programme[1] and with the support of the AFRA Regional Cooperative Agreement.  

“But the impact of your work goes far beyond the above figures,” explained Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director of the TC Division for Africa, in his opening remarks to the training course participants. “Your efforts are making the diagnosis and treatment of several diseases more accessible, decreasing human suffering and promoting good health.”

And yet, despite promising developments in the region, as of 2022, 13 countries in Africa still lack nuclear medicine services altogether. Additionally, the limited and inconsistent availability of diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals has also been identified as a factor constraining the expansion of nuclear medicine services in some African countries.

“Problem identification and problem-solving are key leadership skills,” explained Francesco Giammarile, a Nuclear Medicine Physician at the IAEA. “Through coordination with their staff, stakeholders and suppliers, good leaders and managers are able to harness partnerships, leverage learning opportunities and identify solutions to improve and expand their portfolio of services.”

Following a series of presentations establishing the best practices and traits of good leaders, the participants were invited to apply those principles through interactive, group exercises.

“Following the workshop, I plan to work on communication between my team members to achieve improved results and to provide more effective leadership to my team, so as to expand our services,” concluded Makhdomi.

Stay in touch