July 31, 2020

From University to Retirement and Many Countries of the World

By Perry Sprawls, PhD, FACR, FAAPM, FIOMP, Co-Editor, Medical Physics International

Upon retirement from Emory University School of Medicine in 2005, I had 45 years of experience as a medical physicist academic and applied clinical scientist. I was an innovator and leader in enhancing the effectiveness of radiological science and clinical radiology education.

I also developed an extensive collection of educational resources including two textbooks, modules and visuals to enrich classroom and conference presentations and discussions. These were the fruits of my career along two synergistic pathways: a clinical physicist and innovative educator.

Even before retirement, major challenges existed in radiology education around the world and especially within developing countries. Radiologists required continuing education in order to obtain maximum value from new and modern imaging methods as they became available.

I became recognized for starting international education through development and leadership of the Emory-Xian China Cooperative Program in Radiology, a significant factor in advancing radiology education in China. This included the translation of my textbooks into Chinese and personally teaching at the Xian Medical University in a special program to increase the number of students studying radiology.

At this time, Debra L. Monticciolo, MD, FACR, had arranged a donation of a new mammography system for Xian. She joined the effort there teaching and developing an effective breast imaging program.

In India, I devoted my activities to MRI education and developing medical physics educators with both instruction and resources. As director and faculty of the UNESCO-sponsored College on Medical Physics, my activities had the greatest international impact through a series of courses on a campus in Trieste, Italy, specifically for medical physicists from developing countries.

This was an opportunity to teach and provide extensive educational resources to several hundred medical physicists from over 30 different countries. A major objective was to share my Emory University experience, develop clinical medical physicists and educators, and enhance the practice of radiology around the world.

With retirement and the global educational activities extending beyond the scope and resources of the university, my next step was the formation of the Sprawls Educational Foundation. The mission was to enhance radiology education and provide free and open resources anywhere in the world to support class and conference presentations as well as radiology residency programs in the United States.

Two of my most recent publications provide guidance in how to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of radiology education programs:

Sprawls, P. “Developing Effective Mental Knowledge Structures for Medical Physics Applications,” Medical Physics International Journal, vol. 6, No. 1, 2018.

Sprawls, P. “Effective Physics Knowledge for Diagnostic Radiologists,” Perry Sprawls, Medical Physics International Journal, vol. 7, No. 3, 2019.

In summary, retirement provides the opportunity to use the experiences and resources developed over the course of a university- and hospital-based career in order to enhance radiology education in all countries of the world.