preparedness to respond to the detonation of an improvised nuclear device. The workshop included a presentation by COL John Mercier, Ph.D.—then Senior Health Physicist at AFRRI and Director of Military Medical Operations—on the U.S. military’s approach to prompt treatment of personnel with combined injuries in the event of a nuclear attack and how this approach might be adapted to the civilian setting (IOM, 2009).
In 2010, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (U.S. NRC) requested that the NAS provide an update of a 20-year-old assessment of cancer risks in populations near U.S. NRC–licensed nuclear facilities that use or process uranium for the production of electricity. Analysis of Cancer Risks in Populations Near Nuclear Facilities: Phase 1 focuses on issues related to conducting a scientifically valid epidemiological study. Prominent among these were the challenge of assessing risks at low doses, weak exposure characterization for the populations of interest, and the uncertainties surrounding low-dose health effects (NRC, 2012a). Phase 2 of the study, which is planning a pilot study of cancer risks, was in progress at the time that this report was completed in late 2013.
Advancing Nuclear Medicine Through Innovation (NRC and IOM, 2007) reported on a number of issues related to the practice of nuclear medicine, including the state of the workforce. It concluded that there are shortages of both clinical and research personnel in all nuclear medicine disciplines (chemists, radiopharmacists, physicists, engineers, clinician-scientists, and technologists) and that training of the next generation of professionals has not kept up with current demands (p. 129).
In 2012, the NRC released Assuring a Future U.S.-Based Nuclear and Radiochemistry Expertise. The authoring committee had been charged with examining the demand for nuclear chemistry expertise and the supply of incoming skilled experts. The committee noted that although the demand for nuclear chemistry expertise was unlikely to decrease, the current labor force is approaching retirement age, with fewer incoming students in the field. To avoid a gap between supply and demand, the committee recommended ways to increase student interest through such steps as on-the-job training opportunities (NRC, 2012b).
Nuclear Physics: Exploring the Heart of the Matter (NRC, 2013) reported that labor-supply problems have been building for several decades, and they affect all areas of applied nuclear science. It stated that “there is an increasing decline in the percentage of physics Ph.D.s graduating with expertise in nuclear physics at a time when workforce demands are growing” and that “the workforce shortage will become acute unless a coordinated and integrated plan is implemented to build and sustain an