[ RadSafe ] RadSafe Digest, Vol 438, Issue 1

Neil Walters nwalters at morphodetection.com
Wed Oct 20 14:28:23 CDT 2010

Hi all,
I just wanted to echo Michael Stabin's comments on the importance of fundamentals with a few of my own...

This week I had an emergency responder/seasoned employee tell me he had just measured a dose rate in Roentgens per hour from a beta source and asked me what the annual exposure limit was in rems per hour.   I was surprised with such fundamental errors and have since scheduled him to attend a refresher class.   NOTE: this person is also a licensed electrician..so I just called him and asked him the importance or knowing the difference between current and capacitance relative to electrical hazard...he laughed and hung up on me, go figure.

I'm reminded of a day at university when my professor (Ken Skrable) pulled me aside to politely remind me that we are in a very unique club and that I must never forget that as a Health Physicist I am here to educate, teach people the fundamentals, give them the tools to make informed decisions and accurate recommendations on how to do their job safety...make them say "aah, I get it".   Here-in young man lies the key to your success and everyones safety, never give up...or something equally as profound!

I urge us all to continue teaching the fundamentals of out field and always support those that do...us thinking that "students don't care, don't need to know, and, most importantly won't remember" is the problem itself, we have to make them say "aah, I get it"...because the day someone tells you to keep back a distance of 1000 and they don't know the difference between inches or metres...well we all have a fundamental issue with that, right?

Neil Walters

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu [mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Stabin, Michael
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 1:23 PM
To: radsafe at agni.phys.iit.edu
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] RadSafe Digest, Vol 438, Issue 1

>I get annoyed when a CHP lectures to emergency responders, radiation workers, etc. about, for example, the difference between a rad and Roentgen, because the students don't care, don't need to know, and, most importantly won't remember.

The "x ray" vs "x-ray" thing is a very minor point, I agree, I wasn't lecturing anyone, just noting that when writing this is a nit to pick. I hope that health physicists and health physics students know the difference between a rad and a Roentgen. If you tell me that you just measured 3 mR/hr of beta radiation, I hope you realize that you are speaking nonsense, exposure only applies to photons. Sure, for photons an R is about a rad is about a rem in soft tissue, but the difference in the three fundamental quantities is very important and better be understood.

I have been simply amazed at some of the things we are seeing when grading Part I and Part II exams. People sitting for this exam don't understand secular equilibrium, what a gas detector curve is, and other fundamental aspects of health physics. This is not a 'highbrow' professor or CHP thing, this is that if you are working with radiation, you should be well trained in fundamentals, and the difference between a rad and a Roentgen is pretty fundamental. Is it OK for an electrician to think that current and capacitance are the same thing?


Michael G. Stabin, PhD, CHP
Associate Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences
Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences
Vanderbilt University
1161 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37232-2675
Phone (615) 343-4628
Fax   (615) 322-3764
e-mail     michael.g.stabin at vanderbilt.edu<http://health.phys.iit.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/radsafe>
internet   www.doseinfo-radar.com

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