President's Message

President James "Jay" Tarzia
AAHP President James "Jay" Tarzia


Fellow Members of the American Academy of Health Physics,

I am honored to have been elected by you to represent the Academy as President as we usher in a new decade. As a student in high school who thrived on math and science, I was unsure of where I would eventually end up in my career. I considered many options including Engineering, Environmental Science, Architectural Science, and believe it or not, even Dentistry!  One day during my senior year in high school, I toured the Energy Center at University of Lowell in Massachusetts (now UMASS Lowell). During that tour, I was introduced to a professor named Dr. Kenneth Skrable (some of you may have heard of him) who dragged me into his office and proceeded to give me a two hour sermon on the profession of “Radiological Health Physics”. 

That day I discovered how Health Physics was an interesting blend of all the sciences...physics, chemistry, biology, physiology, and others. I learned about the uses of radioactivity in medicine and industry.  I learned how nuclear reactors worked and how Health Physics was so important to the entire nuclear fuel cycle! I learned about these math equations called “third order polynomials” and this thing called  “kinetics”.  I learned about all the job opportunities and the pay that came along with a career in Health Physics.  That two-hour lecture convinced me to enroll in this wild profession and I’ve never looked back!

Now, after almost 40 years, I have witnessed first-hand many reasons why our profession is so important to so many industries where nuclear and radioactive materials are used.  More importantly, I’ve seen why it is important to promote competence in Health Physics and how the mission of the AAHP and ABHP have provided an important service to our profession by maintaining an effective certification process for HP professionals.

During the past several years, members of the ABHP Board and Panels have begun many initiatives to improve our testing processes.  In 2017, under the leadership of Bill Rhodes, we began automating the ABHP application process and transitioning the Part I testing process from a manual test to a computer test which can be taken at thousands of centers world-wide.  Last year marked the second year the computerized testing process was used, and it has been a huge success.  Also, in 2017 Kathy Dinnel-Jones, Part II Panel Chair, initiated a two day workshop to begin standardizing and improving the Part II question database.  Kathy and her team worked many hours over the next year to improve the quality and variety of Part II questions.  In 2019, the ABHP Board began efforts to develop a new Part II exam database and automate analytics to make the grading process more efficient and consistent.

In 2018, the Academy also initiated an effort to improve member communications and processes.  The new AAHP-ABHP website, is powered by a database which manages all member data, automates the recertification process, automates member communications, and provides a number of other services for our members.  Adam Stavola, our new webmaster, is in the process of optimizing the system with some final enhancements which should be completed early this year.

It has been extremely rewarding for me to have served on the ABHP Part I Panel, the ABHP Board, and now the AAHP Executive committee over the past 13 years with so many highly qualified Health Physicists whom I now consider good friends.  I highly encourage all CHPs to consider volunteering to serve in one of these capacities or on one of the many AAHP sub committees. I guarantee that it will be both professionally and personally worthwhile.  

As President of the Academy in 2020, I look forward to working with our many dedicated Academy and Board members to maintain the road toward continued improvement and excellence in our membership and certification processes.