Regulations. Consistent training. Industry growth.
The CNSC competency profile for Class II service technicians has four categories: Technology Competencies, Regulatory Competencies, Safety Competencies, and Safety Related Attributes. As discussed in our previous webinar, they can be summarized as:
1. Understanding machine components, parts, how they work, and how to maintain them;
2. Understanding Federal Nuclear Safety and Provincial Occupational Safety regulations;
3. Identifying aspects of safety regulations that apply to the workplace; and
4. Understanding the clinic and hospital environment and acting appropriately.
Breaking this down into simpler terms the class II service technician competency involves the understanding of the core technology of the Class II device, understanding the laws and regulations that apply to the device, exhibiting behaviour that reduces the risk of errors or causing harm, and being able to navigate the work environment to increase safety.
These attributes can be described as making up the core behaviour as to how Class II service technicians should behave in the work environment to practice their role competently.
Professional practice is a set of activities that apply knowledge to a role, industry, or workplace. In a medical environment, the accepted professional practice principles refer to concepts such as clinical independence, self-regulation, ethical practice, and standards of behaviour. In technical fields such as Engineering, professional practice refers to engineering standards, work accountability, law, ethics, workplace and job requirements, and professional regulation. The two professions emphasize different principles in their practice activities. Other professions, such as the legal profession, even have different professional activities.
For medical linear accelerators, the class II service technician is at a base level a technical professional working in a healthcare environment. The professional practice environment for a service technician must account for the specific work environment, which is the healthcare environment. The CNSC Class II competency profile is a good description of the activities and knowledge that the Class II service technician should have to be effective in the role.
We suggest that viewing the competency profile as a framework for medical linear accelerator service technicians will help the community of service technicians in Canada since this will help to create accepted practice standards across the country and simplify compliance with the competency profile.
In technical fields, the process to gain a practice license is to demonstrate technical competencies through a technical degree, and then to learn the workplace competencies through an internship, which is followed by a professional practice exam that tests only legal and ethical principles relating to the work environment. For a class II service technician, a similar process could be used where the technical competencies can be learned from technical training relating to the equipment followed by professional practice training and assessment related to the clinical environment (legal, safety, and knowledge of the work environment).
In Canada, where the number of medical linac service technicians is small, and distributed over a large area, it has been challenging to develop practice standards, which are needed to establish training programs. The CNSC Class II competency profile, if viewed as an outline of professional practice standards for medical linac service technicians, is a tremendous opportunity to quickly obtain consensus on what practice standards should be, which will greatly simplify the curriculum development for training programs. With the radiotherapy community resources that currently exist, it is possible to develop a consensus, which should help to effectively train and build a larger workforce of professionals. The entire radiotherapy community will benefit from a framework and training programs to ensure we have enough well-qualified service technicians.