Friday, January 11, 2008

Point/Counterpont

When teaching Medical Physics at Oakland University, I have found an excellent way to expose students to current issues in the field: discuss "Point/Counterpoint" articles from the journal Medical Physics, published by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. Each issue of Medical Physics contains one 3- or 4-page article discussing a fascinating but controversial claim. The format of each point/counterpoint article is a debate between two leading medical physicists (something like the old "60 minutes" TV show segment with the same title, parodied so hilariously on Saturday Night Live.) For instance, the January 2008 issue of Medical Physics debates if "Exposure limits for emergency responders should be the same as the prevailing limits for occupational radiation workers." My students seem to enjoy the lively style of these articles, and they have to learn enough medical physics to understand the science and vocabulary underlying the debate. I typically spend 15 minutes discussing one article every Friday afternoon. The point/counterpoint articles are a great way to augment our textbook, Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology, in a Medical Physics class.

Note added March 2, 2008: You can now download a publication titled Controversies in Medical Physics from http://www.aapm.org/ that contains ten years of Point/Counterpoint articles.

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