The Price Is Right

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the Society of Surgical Oncology meeting in San Antonio. This is always a busy meeting for me—between recruiting new talent, meeting with research collaborators, presenting and hearing the latest data, networking with friends and colleagues, and cheering on mentees as they present their work and enter the foray of academic surgical oncology—there is often little time for anything else. Despite the nutty schedule, it’s always wonderful to meet up with many of my former trainees to see how they are doing and to provide them with (often unsolicited) advice. On this last trip, I had the pleasure of meeting up with many of my trainees, and as I strolled through the exhibit hall with five of them (a larger entourage than I’ve ever had on hospital rounds), I asked if any of them were ASCO members. Blank looks were combined with glances of trepidation, and I could tell that with their increasing burden of medical school debt, they were likely wondering how much this would cost. “It’s free,” I said. “WOW!” one remarked, “That’s the right price!” They all signed up for Associate Membership to ASCO that day.

I wonder, though, how many of our trainees know all of the benefits of Associate Membership, and the fact that this is free!  Associate membership is available to any health professional with a doctoral degree who is participating in an oncology-related training program, and allows them access to a myriad of benefits of ASCO membership. They are able to submit an abstract to the Annual Meeting as a first author, apply for Conquer Cancer Foundation grants and awards, get discounts on products and programs—but perhaps more importantly, it opens them up to the world of ASCO, and the opportunity to network with friends and colleagues and get involved with a great organization. And it’s free!

Many of our trainees may not be aware of this tremendous opportunity. It is up to us—as mentors, Cancer Center Directors, Training Program Directors, Chairs of Departments and other people in leadership positions—to make them aware. Many of us struggle with the fiscal realities of training residents and fellows, but here is an opportunity to give our trainees a wonderful resource without any cost to us or them. So here is my challenge to you: get all of your trainees to join ASCO as Associate Members. The benefits are huge, and the price really is right.


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