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Young Professionals in Europe and Central Asia Build Professional Expertise in Radiation Protection and Safety


During the PGEC, young professionals participated in practical exercises and learned about emergency preparedness and response. ((Photo: I. Ivanisic, University Hospital Osijek) )

A group of young professionals from Europe and Central Asia have gained the technical knowledge and practical skills required to help protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation, through successful completion of an IAEA course. The IAEA’s Postgraduate Educational Course in Radiation Protection and the Safety of Radiation Sources (PGEC) in Europe, hosted by the Greek Atomic Energy Commission (EEAE) in Athens, Greece, concluded this month. A total of 19 participants completed the comprehensive five-month training course, organized as part of an ongoing technical cooperation project.  

“From my participation in the PGEC, I gained an overall picture of the framework of radiation protection and the safety of radioactive sources. That knowledge was acquired through interesting lectures, demonstrations and technical visits that were crucial for the understanding of the framework in general,” said Iva Ivanisic, University Hospital Osijek, Croatia. “We also got a chance to experience stressful real-time situations through simulated exercises, through which we improved our teamwork skills and capabilities. That type of teaching method gave us the possibility to work with colleagues from different fields and the opportunity to practice quick-thinking under pressure,” she said.  

Targeting early-career professionals, the PGEC is based on a rigorous syllabus, which is published as part of the IAEA’s Training Course Series. This series of publications supports a range of established capacity building programmes for professionals across a wide range of nuclear-related topics.  

"Through a combination of lectures, technical demonstrations, field visits and hands-on activities, participants learned the technical foundation upon which international radiation protection standards and recommendations are built, the key requirements of those standards and how they can be applied in practice," said Liz Grindrod, IAEA Radiation Safety Training Officer. "At the conclusion of the course, participants also completed a ‘train the trainers’ module to enable and encourage them to impart their new knowledge and skills to colleagues in their home countries."  

Radiation is used daily around the world in healthcare, agriculture, energy production, industry and research. To ensure the safety of radiation sources, and the protection of workers, patients and the public from potential radiation risks, a framework of legislation and regulations as well as a strong safety culture and expert personnel working across a range of disciplines are required. The PGEC participants were drawn from a wide variety of technical disciplines, including radiation protection, regulatory activities, medical physics dosimetry, radiochemistry and waste management.  

“In the north of Tajikistan, we have a problem with radioactive uranium waste, and information that I received will help us in our area for working with this problem,” said Muzafarov Avzalshokh, Department of Radiation Safety and Security, Tajikistan. "Namely, storage of radioactive waste, disposal of radioactive waste, and safe handling of radioactive waste. Communicating with colleagues from different countries gave me great pleasure — to learn about their experiences, and how they coped with various difficulties in their work.”  

In the Europe and Central Asia region, the PGEC is offered in English and Russian at designated IAEA regional training centres. The EEAE in Athens conducts the PGEC in English, while the International Sakharov Environmental Institute of the Belarusian State University in Minsk organizes the Russian-language PGEC. In Europe and Central Asia, 123 aspiring radiation protection professionals have received training in English, and a further 178 have completed the course in Russian. 

“The PGEC helps to prepare the next generation of radiation protection leaders and has long term impact on the regulatory activities of IAEA Member States,” said Eve-Külli Kala, Director of the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Division for Europe.  

The first PGEC was hosted in 1981 by Argentina for participants from Latin America and the Caribbean, and in 2018 the PGEC celebrated its 100th edition. Over the past 40 years, the course has helped more than 2000 young graduates and experts from over 120 countries to develop or refresh their knowledge of radiation safety.  

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