By Andrea Anampa-Guzmán and Pamela Contreras-Chavez, MD
The ASCO Annual Meeting is one of the largest events in the oncology community and provides a venue for health care professionals and scientists to present their cancer research results to a global audience. Oncologists and trainees from all over the world attend to learn the latest advancements in the field. Unfortunately, only a small number of international students attend the meeting every year.
If you are an international medical student, please consider the following benefits you can gain by participating:
- Low registration rates
It is free for medical students to become members of ASCO, and student members have the lowest registration fee for the Annual Meeting. Moreover, some medical schools finance trips for their students if they present at the conference.
- Opportunity to learn from leading experts
The ASCO Annual Meeting provides opportunities to attend poster and oral presentations detailing the latest findings in the field. Also, students have the opportunity to interact with experts during career development and scientific sessions in the Trainee & Early Career Oncologist Member Lounge. The lounge offers complimentary refreshments and is an exclusive place for trainees to gather, learn, and network with one another. The lounge also offers one-on-one mentoring opportunities and small-group guided poster walks.
- Attend or present at the Medical Student & Resident Abstract Forum
ASCO offers members of its Oncology Student Interest Group (OSIG) program the exclusive opportunity to present a poster or deliver an oral presentation as part of this forum. Even if not delivering a presentation, it is worth attending this session since it is an opportunity to learn and explore the research that other students are doing. Following the forum, there is a reception for attendees and this is a great opportunity to network with peers and oncologists.
- Develop your professional network
The ASCO Annual Meeting provides ample opportunity to meet other medical students, oncologists, residents, and fellows in both formal and informal settings. Chicago, the host city of the meeting, has a variety of venues and activities through which connections can be made outside of the conference as well. These newly formed relationships can result not only in research collaborations, but lifelong friendships.
If you are attending the conference for the first time and do not know anyone else there, remember that there is an ASCO Annual Meeting Buddy Program offered for medical students so that you will not have to go through it alone. As part of the Buddy Program, you will be matched with an oncologist-in-training who will serve as an onsite mentor during the Annual Meeting. Going to a large medical conference can be a little overwhelming at first, but planning beforehand makes it simpler. You will be surprised by diversity of career paths in oncology and the opportunities in research.
Attending the ASCO Annual Meeting can be the start of a long and fruitful career in the field of oncology.
ASCO offers guidance for international travelers online and onsite at the meeting. Please visit ASCO’s Resources for Medical Students & Residents to sign up for the 2020 Buddy Program beginning on March 2, 2020; match notifications will be sent in early May. For more information on ASCO’s programs and opportunities for medical students and residents, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ms. Anampa-Guzmán is a medical student at Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Peru. She is a past leader of the ASCO Oncology Student Interest Group at her university. She was a speaker for Elsevier on medical education in Latin America. Currently, she serves as an Elsevier Ambassador. Follow her on Twitter @AndreaAnampaG.
Dr. Contreras-Chavez is an internal medicine resident at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. Follow her on Twitter @PamChMD.
Ms. Anampa-Guzmán and Dr. Contreras met at the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting, which they both attended as student members.