NEA International Radiological Protection School (IRPS)

    Preparing tomorrow's radiological protection leaders by learning from today's experts

    Stockholm University, Sweden

    20-24 August 2018

    Background

    With the advent of the many beneficial uses of atomic radiation and nuclear technology over the last century, experts in both national and international fora have worked for the establishment and the evolution of a system of radiological protection (RP). Many RP principles have been agreed and accepted globally and serve as the basis upon which many national regulations and guidance are built. International bodies addressing RP issues within their charters, such as the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), through its Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health (CRPPH), have contributed to the evolution of the system of radiological protection by sharing experience and knowledge. This practical feedback continues to refine the underlying principles of the international RP system. These principles also reflect state-of-the-art scientific knowledge, as well as the experience and collective understanding accumulated over many decades. Their application has long benefited from the very experts who helped to establish the global framework of guidance, standards, recommendations and best practices, and who are also involved in applying this framework in their home countries. 

    A wide variety of guidance and standards documents are available. The technical facts are provided in these documents but how the different elements have evolved, and the full body of understanding that they reflect, are not well documented. Understanding the spirit of the RP system is an integral component of its effective application. In order to appropriately apply the RP system to existing and emerging situations, such aspects – the nuances, history and between-the-line meanings – need to be fully understood by tomorrow's leaders in order to progress in the radiological protection field.

    The CRPPH has long served as a forum for exchange and co-operation, to establish best practices, contribute to the development of the key recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and issue innumerable technical and policy documents that capture the state of the art of RP thinking at specific points in time. The NEA decided to develop a learning programme in order to pass on a deep understanding of the spirit of the RP system, along with how it is intended to be applied in diverse and newly emerging circumstances.

    As a first step towards the establishment of a long-term programme, the NEA, in co-operation with the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) and the Centre for Radiation Protection Research (CRPR) of Stockholm University, had decided to launch a pilot International Radiological Protection School (IRPS).

    Key topics

    The following subjects were covered during the programme held over five full days, with sessions built on a mix of presentations and illustrative case study discussions. Leadership and stakeholder engagement skills were deliberated as an undercurrent of the more technical aspects of these topics, and illustrative case studies were used to introduce practical aspects of the implementation of RP actions:

    • the foundation of the international RP framework – detriment, dose, and other fundamentals; exploring the RP system: past, present, and future;
    • building a system of protection around exposure situations: new approaches in international guidance;
    • evolving issues: ethics, NORM, and public communication;
    • state of the art: radiological aspects of biological, epidemiological and social science.

    Learning objectives

    • gain a historical overview of how and why the RP system has evolved, and an understanding of the levels, effects and risks of ionising radiation – explained by the experts who contributed to the system's creation;
    • critically understand how the RP system's key features are applied in RP regulation and implementation;
    • understand the roles and differences in approaches at the international and national levels (e.g. International Commission on Radiological Protection [ICRP], International Atomic Energy Agency Basic Safety Standards [IAEA-BSS], European Basic Safety Standards Directives [EU-BSS], National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements [NCRP]);
    • learn about the current state of the art in biological, epidemiological and social science fields as applicable to radiological protection;
    • discuss lecturer and participant perceptions, experiences and suggestions in relation to the potential evolutionary direction of the current RP system;
    • illustrate good RP communication and leadership skills through presentations and case studies.

    Download the draft programme

    Target group

    This course was aimed at mid-career experts with relevant education and a minimum of five years of work experience in the field of radiological protection (see pre-requisites below).

    IRPS participants hold positions at government ministries, regulatory authorities, research institutions, nuclear fuel cycle industries or other industrial sectors where their jobs include providing policy and practical level advice on RP matters.

    Medical radiological protection experts were welcome to join the course; however, the application of ionising radiation in medical diagnostics or treatment was not the focus of the training.

    Course organisation

    Teaching methods

    The teaching for each module was practical, dynamic and interactive. Talks and presentations from radiological protection experts were accompanied by case-based discussions and group exercises. Participants also had the opportunity to address relevant soft skills.

    Lecturers built participants' own experiences to keep discussions directly relevant to their situation and concerns insofar as possible.

    Language

    All course instruction, course materials and discussions were in English.

    Requirements

    Candidates have to meet the following two minimum requirements:

    1. proficiency in English (B2 or equivalent), particularly oral communication, which was essential for effective participation in the programme;
    2. relevant professional work experience in the radiological protection field.

    The table below provides a description of the suitable applicants' education and work experience.

    Education level Work experience
    No College Degree 10-15 years
    Bachelor degree 10 years
    Master degree 7 years
    Doctoral degree 5 years

    Pre-work

    Participants were requested to complete a short pre-course assignment and to be familiar with a small set of reference documents. Details were sent to the selected participants, together with a list of reference readings.

    Certificate

    On completion of the programme, participants received a certificate of attendance.

    A total of 1.5 university credits (ECTS) could also be awarded to participants, by Stockholm University, upon request.

    Organisers

    The IRPS was organised by the NEA in co-operation with the Centre for Radiation Protection Research (CRPR) of Stockholm University and with the support of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM).

    Advisory Board

    The International Radiological Protection School Advisory Board provided overall direction and strategy for the implementation of the IRPS. The Advisory Board is composed of well-respected radiological protection experts from around the world.

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