Radiation Brain Drain? The Impact of Demographic Change on U.S. Radiation Protection

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The use of radiation has a substantial beneficial impact, particularly in the areas of medicine, energy production, basic science research, and industrial applications. Radiation protection knowledge and experience are required for acquiring and implementing scientific knowledge to protect workers, members of the public, and the environment from potential harmful effects of ionizing radiation while facilitating the beneficial use and development of radiation-based technologies. However, demographic changes are negatively impacting U.S. radiation protection and response capabilities. The number of radiation professionals continues to decrease even as the demand for such professionals is growing. These concerns are most pronounced in the medical, energy, research, and security arenas. Though the United States has been the world leader in radiation protection and radiation sciences for many years, the country has no strategic plan to ensure the maintenance of expertise in radiobiology, radiation physics, and radiation protection. Solving this problem will require a significant increase in federal and state funding as well as formal partnerships and initiatives among academia, professional societies, government, and the private sector.

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