Jul 03, 2017
ASCO Faculty describe their experience as volunteers for ASCO International. Read the complete transcript of this interview below the video.
ASCO International supports numerous educational programs designed to strengthen cancer care in low-resource countries through collaborations between oncologists around the world and ASCO volunteers who coordinate activities, serve as mentors, and teach courses on such topics as palliative care, clinical trials, and multidisciplinary cancer management. International Palliative Care Workshops aim to strengthen skills in how to communicate effectively, assess pain and manage symptoms and medication, deliver bad news, and implement palliative care services in participants’ hospitals and throughout the region.
Frank Ferris, MD at OhioHealth, Cynthia Goh, MD at the National Cancer Center in Singapore, Janet Abrahm, MD at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and David Currow, MBBS, MPH, FRACP at the University of Technology in Sydney discuss the IPCW in Jakarta, Indonesia and why they chose to volunteer with ASCO. IPCW Indonesia was held March 8-10, 2017 in collaboration with the Indonesian Society of Psychosomatic Medicine and the Indonesian Society of Hematology and Medical Oncology.
Frank: Hi there, I’m Frank Ferris. I’m with OhioHealth in Columbus Ohio.
Cynthia: I’m Cynthia Goh. I’m a palliative care physician working in Singapore at the National Cancer Center.
David: Hi, I’m David Currow. I have the Chair of Palliative Medicine at University of Technology in Sydney.
Janet: I’m Janet Abrahm. I work at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a palliative care physician.
What brought you here to Jakarta?
Frank: ASCO International invited us to come to Jakarta to participate in an International Palliative Care Workshop. It’s been a wonderful opportunity, as we have more than 80 participants from across the country here for three days learning about palliative care.
David, why did you decide to volunteer with ASCO?
David: Volunteering with ASCO for this project is a great opportunity to contribute in the region, to work with people from right across Indonesia to understand the challenges that they face as they develop new services in palliative care, particularly as they look to educate not only the work force that is already out there, but the next generation. This is a fantastic opportunity to work with colleagues from across the world in really helping to foster a new generation of practitioners.
Janet, why did you decide to volunteer with ASCO?
Janet: I’ve been lucky enough to have several international opportunities to volunteer with ASCO. I used to be a hematologist/oncologist, but now have been practicing and teaching palliative medicine for a long time and the opportunity to do this with clinicians who are struggling with the same kinds of things that I was struggling with when I first started as an oncologist. I feel like I’m in their shoes, and yet they’re from different cultures, so I’m trying to understand what effect that culture has on their practice and always shines an important light upon my own practice and I always learn as much as I teach.
Frank, what can a volunteer do to help develop cancer services in their settings?
Frank: As volunteers, we can play a significant role helping people in many countries around the world advance their awareness, their attitudes about palliative care, develop some knowledge, and then if we’re prepared to have an ongoing relationship with them, we can actually help them build some skills. It’s not just about coming to the country once for a single course, but can we actually provide mentorship onsite or remotely over time to help them build capacity.
Cynthia, would you like to add to that?
Cynthia: In this part of the world, in Southeast Asia, there are many developing countries that need to build capacity for palliative care, so I’m really excited that ASCO is doing this project in Indonesia. I think we need all the help that we can get. I agree with Janet that it’s such a lot of fun to teach together as a team. We learn so much from each other as well as from the participants and the countries around us, so I would highly recommend people come and join as volunteers and faculty.
Do you have any advice for future volunteers?
David: Firstly, you have to pack your Hawaiian shirt and leave your tie at home. That’s really important. Come with lots of energy. It’s a great learning experience – it’s a great personal development experience too. As Janet said, hear about the challenges that other people have. It gets your own practice into perspective. It helps in lots of ways. So come and enjoy the experience – line up for it because it’s really worthwhile.
Frank: And I think that one of the other real benefits for each one of us is that we begin to realize what we really have in our own personal settings, and it helps us to become sensitive to the different cultural, religious, personal, maybe even political differences that exist around the globe. What I’ve found is that this helps us develop ourselves and also a network that really helps each one of us grow. It’s a lot of fun! And it can develop some long-term relationships for us that can be quite wonderful.
ASCO collaborates with oncology societies around the world to deliver palliative care education to health care providers. International Palliative Care Workshops (IPCW) cover topics including communication skills, pain assessment, and symptom management. If your organization is interested in applying to host an International Palliative Care Workshop, please contact ASCO International.
Volunteer with ASCO International
ASCO International relies on ASCO member volunteers serving in a variety of capacities to deliver programs around the world that improve patient care.
Volunteer opportunities include:
- ASCO International Speakers Bureau. Volunteer speakers travel internationally to joint symposia, workshops, multidisciplinary training, and advanced courses to present on pre-arranged topics specific to their expertise.
- ASCO HVO International Cancer Corps. Members share their medical expertise and build long-term, supportive relationships with the clinicians who provide cancer care in low-resource countries.
- Conquer Cancer Foundation IDEA Mentorship Program. This program pairs International Development and Education Award (IDEA) recipients with ASCO members in the United States or Canada who serve as scientific mentors and host the IDEA recipients for a three-day visit following the ASCO Annual Meeting.