In this month’s post, we talked with our subcommittee chair, Anna Rodrigues, about her experience volunteering with the Student and Trainees Subcommittee (STSC) and advice that she has for students who wish to get involved. Anna is currently a Medical Physics Resident at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where she also received her Ph.D. in Medical Physics.
How long have you been a member of STSC?
I joined the STSC in as a member in 2013 and was tasked with organizing the annual student meetings. Since 2015, I have been the chair of the STSC.
Why did you join AAPM and STSC?
I joined the AAPM in 2011 shortly after starting my graduate studies in Medical Physics. My graduate program encouraged us to join our professional societies such as HPS, AAPM, etc, as early as possible in an effort to integrate us to the profession, connect and network with members, and utilize the wealth of resources these societies have to offer its members. I believe one of the first things I took advantage of was the Virtual Library and (naturally) the Task Group Reports. At my first AAPM meeting in 2012, I learned about the Students and Trainees Subcommittee through the annual student meeting and applied for a position. I saw it as a good avenue for me to transfer skills and interests in medical physics education I was already pursuing in my own graduate program (as a student member on the Medical Physics Administrative Council and Student Advisory Board) and apply it to a national level. It was also an excellent introduction to the AAPM committee structure, which at that time seemed to me to be a “black box” of activity.
What have been your primary responsibilities as STSC chair?
As STSC chair, I operate on a higher level than a member, so most of my tasks are managing members and projects as well as handling logistics and communications between us and headquarters, other committees and working groups, or external groups. This means I am doing something from our SC almost on a daily basis, as our group has many ongoing efforts as well as many events planned for the annual AAPM meeting. Additionally, I periodically update our parent committee, the Education and Training of Medical Physicists Committee, on our progress and the program of the Working Group to Promote Non-Clinical Career Paths for Medical Physicist and making sure we are fulfilling our charges. While those are my primary responsibilities, I am also passionate about participating on the “ground level” projects such as the interview workshop and ideas to promote student and trainee communication.
How has membership in AAPM been of value to you?
In the beginning of a medical physicist’s journey, one naturally “takes” more than one “gives” – This means resources the AAPM provides, as well as all the members one can network with. From knowledge and education to professionalism, AAPM has been an invaluable tool in shaping me from a student to a (almost) professional medical physicist. These products are the result of all the individuals who dedicate their time to keeping our profession up-to-date and advancing. Being able to be part of such a dedicated group of scientists is rewarding and motivating – I hope to be able to “give” more than I “take” from AAPM in the coming years.
What was your most memorable STSC experience? The most challenging?
One of the most challenging and simultaneously memorable experiences was coordinating our first ever Student Day from a logistics standpoint – but it was made much less challenging because AAPM headquarters staff have been so helpful and supportive of our ideas and helping us implement them. The actual Student Day event was memorable, because it showed what a hard-working group of members (all students and trainees!) we have that managed to organized multiple successful events, such as the Residency Fair, that have a broad impact on student and trainee training.
What would you like to see the STSC accomplish in the future?
STSC activities have grown rapidly since I started: We used to only focus on annual meeting events (mostly Student Night Out and the Annual Student Meeting). Now we have ongoing efforts and have expanded the annual meeting events substantially to address student- and trainee-related topics of interest. Additional groups such as the Working Group on Student and Trainee Research have brought synergy to our efforts. For the future, I would like to see us increase undergraduate student participation in the AAPM and annual meeting, incorporate more international students and trainees, and continue promoting non-clinical career pathways.
Do you have any advice for students or trainees who wish to get involved with AAPM or STSC?
- Join as soon as possible!
- Attend your local chapter meetings (also an excellent avenue to get involved in the AAPM).
- Don’t be shy! If you are interested in speaking with a member, go ahead! It may be a “big name” physicist, but they are approachable and usually more than eager to engage with students and trainees.
- The AAPM is a great place to practice professionalism!
- If interested, get involved in committee activities! The easiest way to do this is to sit in on committee meetings during the annual meeting. (You can find the 2017 AAPM committee meeting schedule here.)
So in conclusion, becoming a member of AAPM and volunteering can have exceptional benefits, from educational resources to networking opportunities. If you are interested in learning more about AAPM membership or want to join, please visit the AAPM membership webpage. If you have any great ideas for student and trainee initiatives, you can also contact the STSC directly at 2017.SPASC@aapm.org. Finally, be sure to follow our Facebook page and Twitter for up-to-date information regarding exciting opportunities and upcoming STSC events at the 2017 AAPM annual meeting.