Health care professionals bear many responsibilities before the public but none is more important than the charge to ensure the highest level of competence is available from those providing medical care. The unique qualifications of the clinical MRI scientist are necessary to minimize the risk of injury to the patient, medical personnel and the general public from the unsafe use of MRI systems. The MRI Scientist often also contributes to the development of effective protocols for clinical studies as well as research investigations. As clinical MRI practices steadily progress toward higher magnetic field strengths and more complicated procedures issues of patient safety and examination efficacy become more prominent.
The role of the American Board of Medical Physics is to maintain board specialty certifications through the evaluation of candidates in areas of medical science not covered by other professional boards. Certification is a necessary mechanism for self-regulation, which is seen as a mark of professional competence. With the increased professional standing that certification affords comes a greater demand for those individuals that are certified. This has been shown repeatedly with the establishment of certification bodies for highly respected professions such as physicians, attorneys and engineers. In addition, credentialing facilitates improvement in the general areas of professional status and visibility. Credentialing may provide normalizing influences limiting governmental tendencies to impose regulations for public benefit without providing adequate resources.
Physicians, health care administrators, agency inspectors and the general public have no clear guidelines for judging the qualifications or abilities of a clinical MRI scientist. Also, with MRI gaining greater acceptance as a tool for performing experiments on healthy human beings in the pursuit of scientific knowledge, the professional credentials of those performing human studies will come under greater scrutiny from Internal Review Boards and other authorities that monitor these activities. In todays regulatory climate is it common for governmental agencies to initiate the credentialing and oversight of an entire profession. Our profession has an obligation to regulate itself and the practice of clinical MRI science if it truly to serve the public interest. The American Board of Medical Physics mission is to serve this role.