ACR CT, MRI, Nuclear Medicine and PET Accreditation Program Requirements for Medical Physicists/MR Scientists – 10/30/09 Revision, FAQs Available

The ACR has revised its requirements for Medical Physicists and MR Scientists, as a result of receiving many thoughtful comments from individuals currently providing medical physics services, and after consultation with ACR legal counsel as well as the chairs of the Quality and Safety Commission and ACR Accreditation Subcommittees on Physics. These new requirements will go into effect on January 1, 2010. The new requirements (and this most recent revision) are critical for several reasons.

First, the current requirements for medical physicist/MR scientist initial qualifications, continuing experience, and continuing education vary significantly across accreditation programs. They recommend but do not require board certification for medical physicists and provide no other educational or experience requirements when the individual is not board certified. Revising the current initial qualifications to include board certification or appropriate degree and experience requirements will strengthen the accreditation programs and bring them into line with the existing ACR Practice Guidelines and Technical Standards for each modality. Revising the continuing experience criteria so they are uniform across the programs will ensure that essential personnel stay current and connected with the modalities for which they provide service. The modifications to continuing education criteria will actually provide more flexibility to medical physicists/MR scientists as they choose curricula to fulfill their own needs as well as accreditation requirements.

Second, language added to address the use of medical physicist assistants clarifies the levels of supervision and accessibility qualified physicists must provide to guarantee expert guidance and oversight. In each program, the qualified medical physicist/MR scientist is responsible for the conduct of all surveys of the imaging equipment. The medical physicist/MR scientist may be assisted by properly trained individuals in obtaining data. These individuals must be approved by the medical physicist/MR scientist in the techniques of performing tests, the function and limitations of the imaging equipment and test instruments, the reasons for the tests, and the importance of the test results. In CT and MRI the medical physicist/MR scientist must be present during the surveys. In Nuclear Medicine and PET, the medical physicist must be present or in general supervision of properly trained assistants (and accessible by phone) during the surveys. In all imaging modalities, the medical physicist/MR scientist must review, interpret, and approve all data and provide a report of the conclusions with his/her signature. For more information go to the ACR modality accreditation page at www.acr.org/accreditation.aspx.

Third, these modifications are necessary to promote the ACR goals for quality and safety as the ACR prepares the accreditation programs for approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA). The CMS final regulations (expected shortly) will require eligible facilities performing MRI, CT, and nuclear medicine/PET diagnostic exams to become accredited by Jan. 1, 2012. CMS plans to approve accrediting organizations by Jan. 1, 2010. (Hence, the effective date of Jan. 1, 2010, for these new requirements.) The accrediting organizations must set standards for qualifications for medical personnel who are not physicians but furnish the technical component of medical services. This includes medical physicists. Once the CMS regulations go into effect these criteria could potentially negatively impact a large number of individuals providing medical physics services and an even larger number of facilities. Also there are currently individuals who are providing medical physics services to facilities which have not yet applied for accreditation. Consequently, a grandfathering provision is essential in these revised requirements so that individuals currently providing these services are not disenfranchised and there is an adequate supply to provide medical physics services to facilities that must be accredited.

We understand that these new requirements have not addressed everyone's concerns. However, the ACR believes that these changes address the three major ones by 1) providing a grandfathering provision, 2) adding the American Board of Medical Physics (with it's appropriate subspecialty) to the list of board certifications, and 3) eliminating the initial documented clinical experience requirement for board certified individuals (since this is a prerequisite for taking the exam).

If there are any questions, check the Frequently Asked Questions below or contact the accreditation program.

CT

Initial

Continuing Experience

Continuing
Education

Board Certified

Certified in Diagnostic Radiological Physics or Radiological Physics by the American Board of Radiology; in Diagnostic Imaging Physics by the American Board of Medical Physics; or in Diagnostic Radiology Physics by the Canadian College of Physicists in Medicine

OR

Not Board Certified in Required Subspecialty

  • Graduate degree in medical physics, radiologic physics, physics, or other relevant physical science or engineering discipline from an accredited institution, and
  • Formal coursework in the biological sciences with at least
    • 1 course in biology or radiation biology, and
    • 1 course in anatomy, physiology, or similar topics related to the practice of medical physics
  • 3 years of documented experience in a clinical CT environment

OR

Grandfathered
Conducted surveys of at least 3 CT units between January 1, 2007 and January 1, 2010

Upon renewal, 2 CT unit surveys in prior 24 months

Upon renewal, 15 CEU/CME (1/2 Cat 1) in prior 36 months (must include credits pertinent to the accredited modality)

NMAP

Initial

Continuing Experience

Continuing
Education

Board Certified
Certified in Medical Nuclear Physics or Radiological Physics by the American Board of Radiology; in Nuclear Medicine Physics by the American Board of Medical Physics; in Nuclear Medicine Physics by the Canadian College of Physicists in Medicine; or in Nuclear Medicine Physics and Instrumentation by the American Board of Science in Nuclear Medicine

OR

Not Board Certified in Required Subspecialty

  • Graduate degree in medical physics, radiologic physics, physics, or other relevant physical science or engineering discipline from an accredited institution, and
  • Formal coursework in the biological sciences with at least
    • 1 course in biology or radiation biology, and
    • 1 course in anatomy, physiology, or similar topics related to the practice of medical physics
  • 3 years of documented experience in a clinical NM environment

OR

Grandfathered

Conducted surveys of at least 3 NM units between January 1, 2007 and January 1, 2010

Upon renewal, 2 NM camera surveys in prior 24 months

Upon renewal, 15 CEU/CME (1/2 Cat 1) in prior 36 months (must include credits pertinent to the accredited modality)

NMAP/PET

Initial

Continuing Experience

Continuing
Education

Board Certified
Certified in Medical Nuclear Physics or Radiological Physics by the American Board of Radiology; in Nuclear Medicine Physics by the American Board of Medical Physics; in Nuclear Medicine Physics by the Canadian College of Physicists in Medicine; or in Nuclear Medicine Physics and Instrumentation by the American Board of Science in Nuclear Medicine

OR

Not Board Certified in Required Subspecialty

  • Graduate degree in medical physics, radiologic physics, physics, or other relevant physical science or engineering discipline from an accredited institution, and
  • Formal coursework in the biological sciences with at least
    • 1 course in biology or radiation biology, and
    • 1 course in anatomy, physiology, or similar topics related to the practice of medical physics
  • 3 years of documented experience in a clinical PET environment

OR

Grandfathered

Conducted surveys of at least 3 PET units between January 1, 2007 and January 1, 2010

Upon renewal,  2 PET camera surveys in prior 24 months

 

 

 

 

Upon renewal, 15 CEU/CME (1/2 Cat 1) in prior 36 months (must include credits pertinent to the accredited modality)

MRAP

Initial

Continuing Experience

Continuing
Education

Medical Physicist

Board Certified
Certified in Diagnostic Radiological Physics or Radiological Physics by the American Board of Radiology; in Diagnostic Imaging Physics or Magnetic Resonance Imaging Physics by the American Board of Medical Physics; or in Diagnostic Radiology Physics or Magnetic Resonance Imaging Physics by the Canadian College of Physicists in Medicine

OR

Not Board Certified in Required Subspecialty

  • Graduate degree in medical physics, radiologic physics, physics, or other relevant physical science or engineering discipline from an accredited institution, and
  • Formal coursework in the biological sciences with at least
    • 1 course in biology or radiation biology, and
    • 1 course in anatomy, physiology, or similar topics related to the practice of medical physics
  • 3 years of documented experience in a clinical MRI environment

OR

Grandfathered
Conducted surveys of at least 3 MRI units between January 1, 2007 and January 1, 2010

Upon renewal, 2 MRI unit surveys in prior 24 months

Upon renewal, 15 CEU/CME (1/2 Cat 1) in prior 36 months (must include credits pertinent to the accredited modality)

MR Scientist
  • Graduate degree in a physical science involving nuclear MR (NMR) or MRI
  • 3 years of documented experience in a clinical MRI environment