As we all know, cancer affects all of us. ASCO recognizes how tremendously useful the insights and perceptions of different professional disciplines, cultures, geographies, genders, sexual orientations, and races can be to delivering high-quality care to diverse populations of patients with cancer. ASCO is working hard to embrace this challenge.
The Journal of Clinical Oncology published ASCO's landmark "Strategic Plan to Increase Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Oncology Workforce." Addressing this issue has been one of my top priorities as ASCO president, and this strategic plan gives us guidance on how we can expand our efforts to increase the diversity of the oncology workforce.
Only 2% of oncologists self-identify as Black/African American and 3% as Hispanic/Latino, despite the fact that 13% of the U.S. population is Black/African American and 18% is Hispanic/Latino. ASCO has the opportunity to do much more to support the recruitment, training, and retention of oncologists from diverse backgrounds, particularly those who are underrepresented in medicine. The ASCO workforce diversity strategic plan is a critically important step in that direction.
Over the next 3 years, ASCO will look to improve and expand mentoring opportunities, develop policy recommendations to support diversity in the oncology workforce, support career development programs, and ensure existing ASCO programs include a focus on diversity.
ASCO has already started some of this work. Our Diversity in Oncology programs have provided $1.1 million in funding and other career opportunities to 136 students, trainees, and residents from diverse backgrounds. But we can, and must, do more.
We sincerely hope you will join us in this effort and provide the following suggestions where your participation could make a real difference:
- Sign up to mentor early-career oncologists who are from underrepresented populations
- Pass along opportunities for awards and career development to medical students and residents
- Share your ideas on how we can do more to promote diversity in ASCO programs by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org