Today, Linear accelerators for radiotherapy are mature medical devices with proven efficacy and reliability. In the early days of radiotherapy, this was not always the case. Linear accelerators produced in the 1960s and 1970s often took several years to install and establish stable operation, despite the presence of a linac engineer in the clinic. This arrangement meant that there was good collaboration between medical physicists and linear accelerator engineers, which benefited the clinical integration of these devices. As the reliability of linacs improved, the collaboration between medical physicists and linac engineers has suffered, and today, the teaching of linac physics to trainee physicists is challenging for many medical physics residency programs. This presentation will describe the use of a novel training tool called SIMAC. It is simulation software that allows the user to explore the inner workings of a linear accelerator and learn the physics of beam formation in a safe and effective environment. It is like a flight simulator, but for linacs. The motivation for building SIMAC will be discussed, as well as an overview of the linac physics that it employs. Finally, the use of SIMAC in a teaching environment will be discussed. The software has been used in a continuing education activity designed for medical physics residents and linear accelerator engineers. To improve the accessibility and usability of the tool, we have developed an on-line platform where the teaching of linac physics can be taught remotely. The presentation will also describe how we hope the new teaching platform will be beneficial to the worldwide radiotherapy community.
Part A Title: Your linac and its radiation beam – it was not always a sure thing
Marco Carlone, Medical Physicist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto
Part B Title: Linac Physics: A view beneath the covers
Mike Lamey, Medical Physicist, Trillium Health Partners, Credit Valley Hospital
Part C Title: I’d like to teach the world to beam …
Nicole Harnett, Assistant Professor and Program Director, MHScMRS, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto; Director, Accelerated Education Program, Radiation Medicine Program, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre