Early-career Involvement Leads to Rewarding Member Experience for Fellows

May 21, 2010

By Inga Tolin Lennes, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital

My involvement in ASCO started when I began my fellowship. At the fellowship orientation, the new fellows were encouraged to join the Society. My first year of fellowship would have been much more difficult without the resources that ASCO makes available to its members. Immediately I started using ASCO’s Clinical Practice Guidelines, Annual Meeting abstracts, and Journal of Clinical Oncology articles to supplement my education. At my first Annual Meeting as a fellow, I found the Associate and Active-Junior Lounge (formerly known as the Fellows Lounge) to be an oasis in an otherwise overwhelmingly large conference. The lounge provided a smaller room to meet up with colleagues. I also had a chance to expand my network by speaking with junior faculty and attending fellows-focused Education Sessions and Meet the Professor Sessions with leaders in oncology.

As a senior fellow, my program director asked if I would be interested in serving as an ASCO committee volunteer. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the experience that I have had serving on ASCO’s Career Development Subcommittee as well as the fellows’ liaison to the Clinical Practice Committee has been fantastic. The Career Development Subcommittee is made up of fellows and junior faculty and is led by an experienced Chair and mentor who is very involved with ASCO. This committee is responsible mainly with keeping the resources available to fellows and junior faculty up to date and for designing and implementing the programming at the Annual Meeting for early-career oncologists. At a recent meeting, the Subcommittee addressed issues regarding recruitment of young faculty as members of ASCO, improving the in-training exam experience, and improving programs offered to junior faculty.

As a member of the Career Development Subcommittee of the Professional Development Committee, I serve as the liaison to the Clinical Practice Committee, which sets the health policy agenda for ASCO. I have had the opportunity to meet representatives of ASCO from each of the states, as well as hear timely presentations from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and other national heath care groups. It has been an amazing experience to see how imminent changes to health care may affect the field of oncology. ASCO is extremely active in shaping cancer health care policy and being the liaison to the Clinical Practice Committee has allowed me to see firsthand the changing political landscape of oncology care.

The Annual Meeting offers many opportunities for fellows and junior faculty to become involved and active ASCO members. Merit Awards are open to fellows who are first authors on original scientific work. Recipients of Young Investigator Awards as well as Career Development Awards are honored at the Annual Meeting, and their work is highlighted in scientific sessions. In addition to the opportunity to submit original science for presentation, early oncologists also can get involved in the Education Sessions offered at the Annual Meeting. At the 2009 Annual Meeting, I had the opportunity to present a case vignette for discussion by opinion leaders in lung cancer. In preparing the presentation, I had the chance to meet and provide an overview of the case to the discussants. The Annual Meeting also has much to offer in the Professional Development Track, which contains presentations geared toward starting a successful research career, grant writing, and negotiating a first contract.

Volunteering at ASCO is a fulfilling and career-enriching experience. If you are interested in becoming more involved in ASCO, please visit the volunteer page of ASCO.org in the fall or contact professionaldevelopment@asco.org.

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