Member Benefits Have Multidisciplinary Appeal

May 21, 2010

April 2010 Issue: More than 28,000 oncology professionals developing some of the most compelling and comprehensive research strategies anywhere call ASCO “home.” A multidisciplinary approach to cancer care is crucial to advancing the field, and the broad constituency of the Society provides a forum for all oncology specialties to be involved in developing the future of cancer care.

ASCO membership is not limited to medical oncologists, but includes practitioners specializing in hematology, radiation oncology, surgery, pediatrics, gynecologic oncology, and other specialties. Despite their different approaches and perspectives, members share the common goal of improving the lives of people with cancer. Many of ASCO’s member benefits are universal to all oncologists, regardless of specialty.

Christopher G. Willett, MD, Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Duke University School of Medicine, called ASCO “an extraordinarily valuable organization for every oncology subspecialty. It provides an excellent forum for clinicians and researchers, and opens discussions among colleagues in multiple disciplines.”

Meetings and Education

Christopher G. Willett, MD, Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Duke University School of Medicine (photograph by John West -

The ASCO Annual Meeting draws attendees from all disciplines of oncology thanks to its diverse program of scientific and educational sessions. Designated tracks make it simple for oncologists to find sessions tailored to their specific interests. The online Meeting Planner can be used to create a personalized Annual Meeting schedule, which can then be downloaded to a Microsoft Outlook calendar or most smartphones.

ASCO members receive significant discounts on meeting registration and have advanced access to registration, ticketed sessions, and the most soughtafter accommodations. Depending on their membership category, ASCO members may be able to sponsor their own abstracts for presentation at the Annual Meeting. Original research related to all disease sites and treatment modalities is welcomed.

ASCO’s cosponsored thematic symposia (in breast cancer, genitourinary cancers, and gastrointestinal cancers) provide an intense focus on specific disease sites. These symposia emphasize a multidisciplinary approach to the prevention and treatment of cancer, making them ideal for disease-specific specialists across modalities. Members receive discounts on meeting registration rates.

“The disease-specific meetings are outstanding ways for faculty and attendees to concentrate for three days on a disease site that they’re experts in,” Dr. Willett, who served as Chair of the 2010 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, said. “I’m specifically interested in gastrointestinal [GI ] cancer, and the symposium is an opportunity to learn about GI oncology from medical oncologists, surgeons, scientists, and other groups.”

Education doesn’t end when a symposium closes. ASCO University™, the Society’s online learning platform, features a robust portfolio of instructive and interactive modules on individual cancer types and topics such as communication and disaster preparation that oncologists of all specialties can use. Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit and Maintenance of Certification (MOC) points are available upon the completion of most modules.

The Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO), ASCO’s flagship peer-reviewed publication, is offered to members at a significantly discounted rate. Active and Active-Junior members (who represent nearly all practice specialties) receive JCO as part of their membership. The original research published in JCO covers all topics relevant to a contemporary clinical oncology audience, and features the most innovative and cutting-edge science.

ASCO members often are required to play dual roles of physician and office manager. The Society offers tools applicable across all disciplines to help streamline and simplify administrative duties.

Specialists who are considering implementing an electronic health record (EHR) system into their practices are invited to join Oncology EHR, ASCO’s online social network focused on health informatics. Read blogs about personal experiences with EHRs, join a discussion about oncology-specific products, interact with EHR vendors, or pose a question to the community. ASCO members receive a discount on The Oncology Electronic Health Record Field Guide, which breaks down every step of the EHR selection and implementation process.

Members also have access to the Coding and Reimbursement service, where ASCO staff are available to answer specific questions related to Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance billing and reimbursement. The service is free to ASCO members and their practices.

Advocate for Unique Perspectives
Just as ASCO has a place for oncologists of all specialties, ASCO leadership is well-rounded in terms of disciplines represented. The ASCO Board of Directors includes dedicated representatives from the fields of surgical oncology, radiation oncology, pediatric oncology, and undesignated seats open to members in any specialty. Committee volunteers are members from every background and practice type. Current CEO and former ASCO President Allen S. Lichter, MD, is a radiation oncologist; incoming President-Elect Michael P. Link, MD, is a pediatric specialist. As a professional organization, ASCO is enriched and made more successful by the diversity of perspectives at every level of participation.

“I’ve always felt that radiation oncologists and other specialties have a voice in ASCO,” Dr. Willett said. “I served as Chair of the 2010 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, I’m on the Membership Committee, and I’ve served on past Annual Meeting planning committees. ASCO has always been open to very active participation from anyone who wants to contribute. I consider it a great honor and privilege to help ASCO.”

Specialists can harness ASCO’s power in numbers to make sure their voices are heard. Participation in ASCO’s policy efforts—including grassroots advocacy and meetings with legislators—is one of the best ways to bring the unique concerns of oncology practitioners to the attention of the larger health care community and effect change.

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