The State Affiliate Council: Your Connection to ASCO

The State Affiliate Council: Your Connection to ASCO

Guest Commentary

Oct 24, 2013
By Ray D. Page, DO, PhD, FACOI

  
  
I just returned home after a round of exciting meetings at ASCO Headquarters last week. The first was the State Affiliate Council meeting and the second was the 10th annual State Affiliate Leadership Conference. Nearly 50 representatives and executive directors from ASCO’s State Affiliates converged to address the most relevant issues affecting oncology practice and to receive leadership training from peers and association executives.

For many years ASCO has had a strong desire to bolster a greater voice and representation of the domestic membership to the ASCO Board of Directors. There are now three community oncology representatives on the ASCO Board, as well as designated representatives on the Nominating Committee. ASCO recognizes the importance of the community oncologists’ voice in shaping vision, directives, and policy. To that end, the State Affiliate Council (SAC) was formed in 2011, specifically to strengthen two-way communications. The Council has direct access to the ASCO Board with the Immediate Past President (currently Dr. Sandra Swain) serving as a liaison.

At the recent State Affiliate Council meeting Dr. James Frame, Past President of the West Virginia Oncology Society, reviewed the draft 340B statement pending ASCO Board approval. He also presented the concept of a “Dashboard Initiative” to be proposed to the ASCO Board, realizing that robust communication of evolving data, trends, and issues between state societies and the ASCO Board is absolutely essential. Other topics that were discussed at the Council meeting included ASCO’s draft payment reform proposal, RAC audits, and the challenges to implementing health care reform.

At the Leadership Conference Dr. Dane Dickson, President of the Idaho Society of Clinical Oncology, gave an inspiring and energetic presentation on leadership skills. Dr. Omar Eton, President of the Massachusetts Society of Clinical Oncologists, Karen Beard, Executive Director of the Georgia Society of Clinical Oncology, and Jeff Smith, of the Ohio State Medical Association, served on an excellent panel concerning the threats to our state societies as we see a growing migration from private practice to hospital-based practice.

Dr. Stephen Grubbs, ASCO Board Member and Past President of the Delaware Society for Clinical Oncology, spoke to the state society presidents about the importance of advocacy at the local, state, and national levels. He taught us salient techniques for working positively with our legislators. Additionally, Dr. Grubbs emphasized the importance of participating in ASCO’s election. ASCO members must vote for the type of leadership it wants to see in place. The current membership voting percentage is under 14%. State societies will work to educate and encourage voting in the upcoming election.

Additional topics that were highlighted at the Conference included the Sunshine Act, Rebuilding the Volunteer Spirit, and Associations 101.

The State Affiliate Council meeting and State Affiliate Leadership Conference were both educational and productive and will lead to positive actions for ASCO members. As a practicing hematologist/oncologist, I strongly encourage each of you to get engaged in your state society as a resource to you. I also suggest that you contact your State Affiliate Council representative about practice concerns and issues that may need to be addressed on a national level.

Ray D. Page, DO, PhD, FACOI, is a community hematologist/oncologist at The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Fort Worth, Texas, where he serves as President and Research Director. He is an adjunct professor of medicine and pharmacology at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. Dr. Page is the current Chair of the ASCO State Affiliate Council and is President-Elect of the Texas Society of Clinical Oncology.

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