Although biomedical physicists provide educational services to the healthcare professions in the majority of universities in Europe, their precise role with respect to the education of the healthcare professions has not been studied systematically. To address this issue we are conducting a research project to produce a strategic development model for the role using the well-established SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) methodology. SWOT based strategic planning is a two-step process: one first carries out a SWOT position audit and then uses the identified SWOT themes to construct the strategic development model. This paper reports the results of a SWOT audit for the role of the biomedical physicist in the education of the healthcare professions in Europe. Internal Strengths and Weaknesses of the role were identified through a qualitative survey of biomedical physics departments and biomedical physics curricula delivered to healthcare professionals across Europe. External environmental Opportunities and Threats were identified through a systematic survey of the healthcare, healthcare professional education and higher education literature and categorized under standard PEST (Political, Economic, Social-Psychological, Technological-Scientific) categories. The paper includes an appendix of terminology. Defined terms are marked with an asterisk in the text. © 2009 Associazione Italiana di Fisica Medica.