Mutual recognition of professionals is a pre-requisite for the fulfillment of European Union policies concerning the free movement of professionals. The two associated fields of Biomedical Engineering (BME) and Medical Physics (MP) are rapidly evolving and diversifying while the accelerated development of medical informatics, telematics and microelectronics, approached by both physics and engineering, have resulted in extended grey areas around the two profession boundaries. Competency-based education, training, assessment and accreditation of medical physicists and biomedical engineers share not only common principles, but also a certain number of common competencies. These issues have been negotiated, in this volume, by transnational professional bodies and also by TEMPERE - a European thematic network of 40 universities under the SOCRATES EU programme - which has contributed a broadly accepted proposal for mutual co-operation and recognition in the above fields.
Twelve years ago, one of the first pilot experiment in European collaboration in higher education, the Erasmus twin graduate course in Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, emerged as an initiative of the COMAC-BME experts group. It was a seemingly simple but marvelous idea: to exploit some of our best elements in Europe - our many cultures and diversity and the strengths that lie among us - and bring them all together in one place on the map, where the sun shines bright all year around, the rocky gray of the mountains blends into the Mediterranean blue and the student bursaries can go further.
The course was implemented at the University of Patras in Greece with the active participation of 30 European universities, under the coordination of professor Basil Proimos and has largely managed to deliver according to expectations for its 400-some graduates and their teachers, from all different countries in Europe. Above all, however it has been an exciting adventure into what is now called “European Area of Higher Education”. Indeed, this pioneering group of European Universities, represented in the Patras ERASMUS course, was soon confronted with challenges to satisfy country specific requirements, compromise differing practices and demonstrate compliance to diverse standards - all amounting to the key issue of mutual recognition amongst participating institutions.
These issues, discussed and - where possible - resolved during the yearly “May Meetings” were indeed too far reaching to be treated within the course itself. In 1996 the European Commission supported a related initiative, under the SOCRATES Programme. The TEMPERE Thematic network for Training and Education in Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering has extended the discussion basis to about 40 participating organisations in both fields of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering. During this 4 year project, it became possible to clarify and reach a common understanding on the principles concerning Accreditation and Quality Assurance and establish a general framework within which the relevant issues can be effectively discussed. A set of competencies for professionals to meet the challenges of the professions were proposed, including a framework for education and training structures that would produce and maintain them. The network has exchanged information with professional societies, which have closely observed its activities; at the same time, the discussion has profited from existing valuable experience, work and results that have been produced by the professional associations and other project groups. More recently, the Bologna Declaration has come as a major development in European policy on higher education. The member states have already responded with structural and legislative changes, enabling the compatibility of systems, which are indicative of the degree of changes that will need to be implemented and managed.
This book is about managing change. It's about meeting the challenge of transparent and converging systems of higher education in Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering and converting “obstacles” for mutual recognition into opportunities for quality improvement. This volume has consolidated a number of contributions around the TEMPERE Recommendations in the form of invited papers, so as to provide a broad overview of the status of the relevant activities in Europe today.
I wish to express my gratitude to all that have heartedly supported this publication. I am particularly indebted to the authors representing the professional associations and those that have contributed information on concurrent European projects and initiatives. I also wish to thank the two external reviewers, professor Nandor Richter and Dr Susan Sheriff, for their constructive comments and suggestions. Last but not least, I wish to thank the TEMPERE coordinator, professor Basil Proimos for promoting this publication and the core TEMPERE authoring group for their continuing support during the preparation of this volume. Zoi Kolitsi Editor
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