Geoff IbbottGeoff Ibbott, PhD, Houston, TX on behalf of the Awards and Honors Committee

Soon after this article is published, AAPM will announce the opportunity for nomination of new AAPM Fellows. Fellowship in AAPM recognizes an individual’s contributions through one or more of the following: 

  • Service to AAPM
  • The advancement of medical physics knowledge based upon independent original research or development
  • Medical physics educational activities, especially in regard to the education and training of medical physicists, medical students, medical residents and allied health personnel
  • Leadership in the practice of medical physics

Award of Fellowship requires that a nominee have excelled in one of these categories, but the Awards & Honors Committee considers candidates most worthy of Fellowship to be those who have made contributions to the Association itself, in addition to their contributions in one or more of the other areas.

According to the Rules of the Association, to be eligible for nomination, individuals must have been Full or Emeritus Members of AAPM for at least ten years, including the two years immediately preceding their election to Fellow. There must have been no more than one interruption in membership. Members may be nominated either by a Chapter of the Association, or by any two Fellows, whose membership is in good standing. Nominations made by a Chapter shall be signed by the President of the Chapter and be accompanied by a signed letter of support of the nomination by one Fellow in good standing. Nominations made by two Fellows shall be accompanied by signed letters of support of the nomination from each of the Fellows.

It should be noted that the length of membership is only one of several criteria considered by AAPM when selecting candidates for Fellowship. The Awards & Honors Committee carefully considers all of the nominee’s accomplishments, and selects those who have reached an appropriate threshold based on a relative weighting and analysis of the candidates’ proffered qualifications. The evaluation criteria and relative weightings are reviewed regularly and updated by the Committee to ensure that the relative values assigned to different activities are appropriate and relevant. The Committee also assesses the proportion of Fellows among the entire membership and endeavors to maintain a proportion that is consistent with other professional societies. The Committee then forwards its recommendations to the AAPM Board of Directors for approval.

The Committee reviews the nominations for Fellowship each year in the fall and selects candidates to receive this honor at the AAPM Annual Meeting the following summer. At the Awards Ceremony, each new Fellow is called to the stage and handed a plaque by the Association’s President, while a brief description of their accomplishments is read. This honor is an important means of recognition of AAPM members who have distinguished themselves through their professional activities.

The individual Fellow or chapter making the nomination starts the process online, which creates a distinct web page for the nominee that is identified only by an ID number. The ID number is then used by the nominee and by members who are making or supporting the nomination. The Fellow or chapter making the nomination must submit a letter explaining why they believe the candidate should be considered for fellowship. As described above, at least one other Fellow must submit a letter of recommendation. The letters should not reiterate the nominee’s CV, but should objectively explain how the nominee has distinguished him- or herself and convincingly make the case for award of Fellowship by the Association.

Once a member has been nominated, the process requires that the nominee upload a CV and a brief biographical sketch. The nominee then will provide quite extensive information to support the nomination. The information falls into the categories mentioned above.

Under the heading of “Service to AAPM,” the nominee will indicate all activities in support of the Association. Clearly, terms as an officer of the national organization or a chapter, as a board member, or as an annual meeting program director, reflect a high degree of commitment to the Association. The A&H Committee also considers individual appointments, and membership or chairmanship of councils, committees, subcommittees and task groups. This information is populated directly from the AAPM database.

In the section for Research and Scholarly Contributions, the nominee describes whether or not he or she has served as PI of extramural grants, has published in peer-reviewed journals, has made oral or poster presentations, or has published proceedings papers, among other relevant activities.

The section on Teaching and Mentoring enables the nominee to describe the formal courses they’ve taught, lectures they’ve given at, for example, an AAPM Summer School, the number of PhD or MS students for whom they’ve served as supervisor, and whether or not they’ve served as a graduate or residency program director. Again, this is just a subset of the information that can be provided.

In a section labeled “Other,” the nominee can describe his or her contributions to specialty certification boards, other societies relevant to medical physics, and government advisory committees.

The biographical sketch and the letters making or supporting the nomination can provide further detail or explanation, and can describe the nominee’s role in his or her clinical practice.

Election to Fellowship in AAPM signifies that the recipient has demonstrated excellence in leadership to the profession, service to the Association, research and scholarly works, or teaching and mentoring. Not all who are nominated in a given year will be selected for this honor. But members may be elected at a point in the future, after they have added to their list of achievements. The award of Fellowship is a significant honor, and the A&H Committee hopes that this article helps to explain how the selections are made.