Source: International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA
Supporting the involvement of young people in radiation protection took centre stage at the IAEA conference on Radiation Protection.
“For the future of radiation safety, the challenge now is to develop opportunities for young people and to ensure that they are motivated to work in radiation protection. Effective communication between mentors and young generation is the key,” said Cinthia Papp, a young medical physicist and radiation protection specialist in nuclear medicine and radiodiagnostics from Argentina.
For Papp, these are not empty words. She leads by example, having founded the Young Professionals Network of the Argentine Radiation Protection Society in 2018 and is bringing her experiences to the IAEA Young Professional Programme, held this week online as part of the International Conference on Radiation Safety: Improving Radiation Protection in Practice.
The Programme is comprised of a series of online professional development sessions led by radiation safety specialists for young professionals in the field. IAEA Director Rafael Mariano Grossi opened the event, highlighting to participants that the engagement of young people is essential to ensure the future of radiation safety. “The outcomes of this Young Professionals Programme will act as a guide to lead our steps in the future. Through the critical and questioning eyes of the next generation of radiation safety professionals, we can ensure that public maintains confidence in everything that nuclear can offer us.”
The event generated a lot of engagement: over 300 young professionals from around the world participated in the three-day event that ended today. High-level speakers who have already carved successful careers in radiation safety offered insights into their career path. During the live Q&A session, participants asked leaders in radiation safety about their advice for job hunting, mentoring, and further training in various disciplines important for the work in regulatory body or an international organization.
Networking sessions provided opportunities for the young people to share their own work with the experts and to present their ideas on how to ensure the continued safe and secure use of radiation. “We need to consider new technologies and applications of radiation and young people must be offered opportunities to develop new skills and competences to adapt to technological advancements,” said Papp.
Haruyuki Ogino, Chief of International Affairs and Radiation Protection in the Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan knows the benefits of engagement with young professionals. In 2014, Ogino was invited as a young professional to attend an IAEA International Experts’ Meeting on Radiation Protection. “Back then, I delivered a presentation on the role of young professionals such as myself in building radiation safety capacities in Japan. Now, six years later, I am presenting my career experiences to the next generation as a mentor”.
In his presentation, Ogino outlined the importance of engaging with young professionals today, in order to prepare them for their role as the leaders of tomorrow. “Future challenges will include stakeholder involvement in decision-making procedures and the optimization of radiation safety and protection considering social and economic factors,” said Ogino. “Young professionals need to act with a broad perspective and without being confined to existing frameworks.”
The Programme provided an opportunity for the IAEA to ensure that young people contributed to the success of the International Conference on Radiation Safety. Some were also selected to present their research in oral presentations and in posters during the main conference.