Refresher Courses

Refresher Courses

In-Person Refresher Courses will be taught in St. Louis, MO. All times shown below are Central Standard Time (CST). Virtual attendees must adjust for their local time.

If a Refresher Course is given virtually you will be sent a link to watch the Refresher Course virtually from home or your hotel room. There will NOT be a room on-site to watch the course.
If a Refresher Course is given in person, you can participate in the course in person or virtually. If you are attending virtually, you will be sent a link to watch it LIVE through the SignalWire platform. If you are attending in person, the course will take place at the Union Station Hotel.

Monday, February 21, 1:00pm – 2:00pm CST

Health Physics Considerations in the Planning and Operation of Proton Therapy Facilities

Nisy Ipe

There are currently 107 particle therapy facilities operating worldwide, with another 40 in the construction phase. These facilities treat cancer patients with radiation therapy from protons or heavy ions. There are single room facilities or multi- room facilities. Accelerators such as synchrotrons or cyclotrons accelerate the proton to the desired energy. The protons are transported to the treatment room through a beam transport line. Treatment rooms can be fixed beam rooms or gantry rooms. As the beam is transported to the treatment room, there are beam losses at various locations which result in the production of secondary radiation –both prompt radiation and residual radiation or activation. In order to minimize the radiation dose to members of the public and workers, large thicknesses of concrete shielding from about 0.5 m about 5 m are required to reduce the prompt radiation doses to acceptable levels. Residual radiation results in internal and external exposure from activation, and may require localized shielding, increased ventilation, administrative procedures and decommissioning. Thus both shielding and activation have to be considered in the planning stages of such facilities, because of the significant impact on safety, cost and architectural design. Effective shielding design and activation calculations require the understanding of the physics behind secondary radiation production; which is discussed. Also described are shielding methodology (computational models and Monte Carlo) and shielding design considerations such as beam parameters and losses, workloads, shielding materials, dose limits, etc. Activation of shielding materials (beam-line components, air, water, etc.) is described. In addition, the facility will need a radiation safety program in place which includes various components such as area monitoring, individual monitoring, warnings and signs, procedures for handling radioactive materials, etc.


Case Study: The 1976 Hanford Accident and the Atomic Man

Gene Carbaugh

On 30 August 1976 an Am-241 ion exchange column exploded in a Hanford Site waste management facility hood causing significant damage to the hood, extensive radiological contamination to the room, and spraying a worker with highly contaminated nitric acid and debris. The worker underwent medical treatment for acid burns, as well as wound debridement, extensive personal skin decontamination and long-term DTPA chelation therapy for decorporation of Am-241. Because of the contamination levels and prolonged decontamination efforts, care was provided for the first three months at a unique emergency decontamination facility with gradual transition to the patient’s home occurring over another two months. The worker incurred the largest recorded internal deposition of americium-241 and became known in the press as The Atomic Man. The accident underwent an extensive investigation as to cause, response, lessons learned, therapy, and dosimetry, and has been well documented in numerous reports and journal articles. The room in which the accident occurred was essentially isolated for 40 years from the time of the accident until its demolition in 2018. The lessons learned with regard to patient treatment and effectiveness of therapy still form the underlying philosophy of treatment for transuranic-contaminated injuries. Changes in infrastructure and facilities as well as societal expectations make for interesting speculation as to how responses might differ today.


Tuesday, February 22, 1:00pm – 2:00pm CST

Lu-177 Therapies, Things You Should Know

Kendall Berry

Lu-177 has found its way into commercial radiopharmaceutical therapies with the FDA approval of Lutathera® in early 2018. There were 12 open Lu-177 studies across the world according to ClinicalTrials.gov in last September 2021. Lu-177 therapies will be with us for the foreseeable future and it is anticipated that we will see FDA approval of Lu-177 PSMA-617 sometime in 2022. Lu-177 is a new isotope to many medical health physicists at non-teaching/research centers. The course will cover primarily Luthathera experiences but will also cover LU-177-PSMA 617 therapies. This course will help those health physicists understand a variety of issues from insurance approval, scheduling, room preparations, patient counseling, and patient exposures. Lessons learned will include powerful and/or leaking toilets, what are ostomy bags, incontinence, and extravasations. While portions of this course will be review for those already familiar with Lu-177 therapies, the lessons learned may provide those more experienced with valuable insights and suggestions for response or when possible avoidance.


VIRTUAL – Publish a Paper

Brant Ulsh

This presentation will cover the basics of writing manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals. I will discuss why health physicists should write papers and the many rewards of doing so, and how to decide where to publish. I will review the types of articles and basic structure of a typical paper. Most importantly, I will walk through each section of a paper, provide tips for writing efficiently and effectively, and discuss common problems and challenges. Finally, I will briefly describe the publication process that begins with authors submitting their manuscripts, and how authors can maximize the impact of their work.


Wednesday, February 23, 1:00pm – 2:00pm CST

VIRTUAL – VARSKIN+ 1.0: A Computer Code For Skin Contamination And Dosimetry Assessments

Colby Mangini

VARSKIN Plus is a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) computer code to calculate occupational dose to the skin resulting from exposure to radiation emitted from hot particles or other contamination on or near the skin. VARSKIN Plus can be used to perform wound dose assessments if the metabolic modeling and dosimetry methods are consistent with NRC regulations. VARSKIN Plus gives the user the option to have the code automatically include all decay products in dosimetry calculations or to allow the user to manually add progeny. Both ICRP 38, “Radionuclide Transformations – Energy and Intensity of Emissions” (1983), and ICRP 107, “Nuclear Decay Data for Dosimetry Calculations” (2008), nuclide libraries are available at the user’s option and contain data on gamma rays, X rays, beta particles, internal conversion electrons, and Auger electrons. The photon model accounts for photon attenuation, charged particle buildup, and electron scatter at all depths in skin. The model allows for volumetric sources and clothing or airgaps between source and skin. The electron dosimetry model has a robust accounting for electron energy loss and particle scatter. With the release of VARSKIN Plus three new physics modules are introduced: (1) wound dosimetry; (2) neutron dosimetry; and (3) eye dosimetry. Skin and wound dosimetry implement a new alpha dosimetry model for shallow skin assessments.


VIRTUAL – Laser Safety for Health Physicists

Ben Edwards

This course provides an overview of laser physics, biological effects, hazards, and control measures, as well as a concise distillation of the requirements in the ANSI Z136.1-2014 Standard for the Safe Use of Lasers. Non beam hazards, emerging issues, and accidents will also be covered. Course attendees will learn practical laser safety principles to assist in developing and conducting laser safety training, performing safety evaluations, and effectively managing an institutional laser safety program. While some knowledge of laser hazards will be helpful, both experienced and novice health physicists with laser safety responsibilities will benefit from this course. Attendees may find it helpful to bring their own copy of ANSI Z136.1-2014.