We have to find ways to increase fellowship positions and perhaps create incentives to delay the retirement of existing oncologists. And, as we deal with more cancer survivors, we'll need additional personnel specially trained in survivorship care to ease the burden on oncology practices.
CC&E: Does ASCO plan to bring this issue to policymakers on the Hill?
DR. GOLDSTEIN: Absolutely. ASCO will work with legislators to try to increase federal funding dedicated to training more physicians. Increased funding is not the sole answer, but if we can produce more oncologists 10 to 15 years down the line, it will certainly alleviate some of the expected shortage.
ASCO also has created a 14-member Workforce Implementation Group, which I co-chair, to develop strategies and recommendations by the end of the year that will address the projected oncologist shortfall.
CC&E: Any closing thoughts?
DR. GOLDSTEIN: As noted, the ASCO survey shows that the country is facing major challenges in our capacity to meet the growing demand for oncology services. There's no single solution to this problem, but concerted action over the next several years can certainly minimize the crisis.
We also need to find better ways to maximize the use of our limited supply of oncologists, which, in the long run, may lead to more effective approaches to delivering care.