Highlights from a Young Professional’s First CRPA Conference and Suggestions for Future Conferences

Alicia Douglas with some new conference friends: (left to right) Michael Stoicescu, Alicia, Ryan Cooke, and Chris Malcolmson.


This past May, I attended my first Canadian Radiation Protection Association (CRPA) conference in Halifax! I had a great time, and was I happy to be asked to share my experiences as a student and young professional.

Attending the conference was very rewarding and a lot of fun! A conference like this can be such a valuable experience for someone new to the world of radiation protection. I left feeling much more knowledgeable about radiation protection in Canada and with my interest sparked in several new areas.

The sessions covered many different aspects of radiation protection in hospitals, clinics, research facilities, uranium mines, and academic settings. Topics included regulatory updates, overviews of specific incidents, emergency response, metrology, new technologies, radiopharmaceuticals, radon, commissioning, and decommissioning!

The Anthony J MacKay Student Paper Contest was also a highlight. These presentations were a great in-depth look at all three students’ high-quality research. I also picked up some presentation tips!

Having so many experts and industry professionals to learn from gave me a better overview and understanding of all the possibilities for a career in radiation protection in Canada. While some members may already be knowledgeable about the different areas of health physics, having experts from all over gathered in one place offered a great opportunity for less-experienced members to learn. Hearing directly from these experts about the challenges and unique hazards in different fields, while also being able to connect with them and ask questions was incredibly engaging. And, luckily, the attendees were as welcoming as they were knowledgeable!

Exploring Halifax was another highlight. Conferences are a great way to explore new places, visit local shops and restaurants, and learn about the host city!

The only thing that could have made the conference even better was having more students in attendance! While it’s great to meet professionals who are already working in the field, being able to connect with other students with whom I share similar interests is a great way to hear about other research areas and academic programs, as well as to connect and bond over shared challenges. If there were more student attendees, there could potentially be more events designed specifically for them. This could allow students to network and learn new skills, while setting them up for success in their future careers and attracting more students who may be interested in radiation protection.

Having more students in attendance wouldn’t just benefit the students, but would also benefit employers! Employers looking for students, recent graduates, or young professionals would have opportunities to connect with people interested in working in their organizations. The connections formed at the conference may be beneficial in the future![1]

I’d encourage all future conference attendees to reach out to younger professionals or students they know who may be interested in attending a CRPA conference. The opportunity to attend with someone they know may be the encouragement they need to attend.

For any students or young professionals who are interested in attending, my advice would be to make a plan before the conference begins. To make the most of your valuable time,

  • look at the conference program and identify which sessions you would like to attend,
  • write down any questions you have or anything you would like to learn, and
  • set goals for yourself.

Keep these notes with you during the conference and continue to take notes throughout.

Attending the conference was a great way to learn more about the radiation protection world, connect with some wonderful people, and share knowledge. I would like to thank everyone who made my attendance possible and to thank the attendees and organizing committee for being part of a great first CRPA conference! I hope to see you all next year, along with some new faces!

[1] To read about a real-life example of networking success at a CRPA conference, check out Successful Conference Networking – Not Just a Fairy Tale


Alicia Douglas

Alicia is a health physicist with McMaster University’s Health Physics Department and a tour guide for the McMaster Nuclear Reactor. She is a recent graduate and was the 2023 Information System on Occupational Exposure (ISOE) North American Technical Center (NATC) Canadian Health Physics Intern, collecting and analyzing data from Canadian nuclear power plants and global CANDU (Canada Deuterium Uranium) units.


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