By Ralph J. Hauke, MD
Program Committee Chair, 2015 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium
Following the tremendous success of the inaugural meeting, the 2015 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium will build on the strengths of last year’s meeting while adding new educational and networking elements that promise to engage attendees and virtual learners alike. The Symposium is being held in Boston on October 9-10, and is co-sponsored by AAHPM, ASCO, ASTRO, and MASCC.
The program boasts a dramatically increased amount of scientific presentations, with abstract and/or poster discussions in almost every session, as well as dedicated Oral Abstract Sessions. A large number of the sessions are designed to take the attendee from bench to bedside in the given topic, beginning with discussion of timely and relevant research and ending with psychosocial issues for patients and their caregivers. The underlying biologic mechanisms for symptoms will be discussed, as will best practices for symptom management throughout the cancer care continuum. General Session topics such as best practices in communication, nonpharmacologic interventions for pain, and systems integration are timely and especially relevant to both physicians and other palliative care specialists. For the first time, a concurrent session is being offered to allow attendees more flexibility and opportunities for individualized education. Two keynotes will be presented on topics relevant in the research and in daily practice: biomarkers for prediction of toxicity and the co-management model of care.
A new case review presentation has been added, about which I’m particularly excited. The “Putting the Person in Personalized Medicine” presentations are brief overviews of cases that are meant to underscore, in the everyday world of palliative care, the concepts discussed in previous General Sessions. Friday’s case presentation will be delivered by Mary Scroggins, who is a 15-year ovarian cancer survivor and co-founder of In My Sister’s Care, an organization working to eliminate health disparities and improve gynecologic cancer awareness and patient care in medically underserved populations. Saturday’s case will be delivered by Program Committee member Jeannine Brant, PhD, APRN-CNS, AOCN, an oncology clinical nurse specialist and pain consultant at the Billings Clinic. Dr. Brant’s case will bring together a number of concepts regarding symptom mechanisms and management to illustrate how palliative care can be seamlessly integrated across specialties and throughout the cancer care continuum.
In addition to programmatic highlights, there will be numerous opportunities to interact with colleagues across and within specialties. The Death Café, a forum that encourages the discussion of end-of-life hopes and fears in a small-group setting, was enormously popular last year and will offer increased seating this year. There will be also other small-group experiences in the form of Poster Walks, an event tailored to early-career physicians, and roundtables at which attendees can sit and chat with faculty and other colleagues about specific topics. An innovative new networking event is the Expert Office Hours, which allows attendees to register for a 20-minute one-on-one discussion with an expert about any topic of interest—from research to avoidance of burnout.
In the weeks between now and the Symposium, look for a number of other posts written by faculty and committee members on specific sessions, the benefits of the various networking events, and specific scientific and educational topics. The button on each blog’s page takes you directly to the registration site, where you can also book your hotel.
Based on the tremendous enthusiasm that faculty and attendees alike brought to last year’s Symposium, I’m really looking forward to learning from and interacting with the attendees and faculty. I hope you’ll join me there.