Training the Next Generation of Radiochemists:

A Quality Assurance Perspective

Ginny Whiteford, Mansour Akbarzadeh

Washington TRU Solutions, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Carlsbad NM


The shortage of radiochemists and radiochemistry technicians will be an ongoing problem for years to come. As new training programs are developed to bring more people into the fold, we must remember to include quality assurance as an integral part of their education.

Gone are the days when it was enough to simply be a good chemist. Now one must be able to generate results at the lab bench that are defensible at the judge’s bench. Radiochemistry data is scrutinized not only by the customer, but also internal and external auditors. Even more critical are the project stakeholders. Government regulators as well as the general public must be comfortable with the data and it’s implications. In order for the results to stand on their own, a solid quality assurance program must be their foundation.

Including quality assurance topics in any training program will insure the new radiochemist starts out on the right foot. Every aspect of analysis has some form of quality assurance associated with it. From method development to archiving final results,

somewhere there exists a regulation, guideline, statement of work, or a procedure with recommendations on how it should be done. Familiarizing the new radiochemist with the concepts of QA as well as the reference documents in use by must laboratories will broaden their knowledge and increase the quality of their work.

It’s not just the rookie radiochemist that can benefit from QA training. The veteran can always use a refresher course. Some suggestions on how to incorporate QA topics into staff development programs to increase their awareness, and consequently, their value to the department are discussed