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A Medical Physicist Describes Changes He Saw During COVID-19 Pandemic

Robert A. Pooley, PhD
American Board of Radiology
Specialty: Diagnostic Medical Physics
Specialty: Nuclear Medical Physics

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your daily work? “The primary effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on my everyday work has been related to the implementation of masking and distancing safety precautions and a shift to remote interaction with staff and trainees. Almost instantaneously, all face-to-face meetings at my institution and off-site were rescheduled as virtual meetings or canceled. To reduce the number of employees on campus, the declaration that ‘all work that can be done at home must be done at home’ had immediate impact. However, there was no limitation for work that could only be done on campus as long as screening, masking, and distancing safety precautions were employed. Scheduled work that needed to be done on equipment was rescheduled for a later time if possible. The shift to virtual meetings and remote work from home went very smoothly as the infrastructure was already in place to accommodate this. It has been interesting to experience the positive impact of using video in virtual meetings rather than audio only. When possible, we use video to see our colleagues, and while this is not the same as an in-person meeting, the visual cues add an important social dynamic over audio-only meetings.

“Initially, there was a period of six weeks in which nonemergent, scheduled patient procedures and imaging exams were rescheduled for a later date to reduce the number of patients and employees on campus. This has since been reversed and our patient volumes are nearly back to pre-COVID-19 levels. As we understand better the impact of this pandemic on our local community and have implemented mandatory safety precautions for all employees, patients and visitors, we are able to operate at full capacity and maintain full safety for everyone.”

Certified by the American Board of Radiology, Dr. Pooley serves as a medical physicist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.

(Used with permission from the American Board of Radiology, originally published online on June 1, 2020)

(Published: September 8, 2020)

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