Leadership Development Program Provides Critical Skills, Opportunities to Lead Within ASCO

Leadership Development Program Provides Critical Skills, Opportunities to Lead Within ASCO

With the landscape of cancer care and research constantly evolving, professional societies such as ASCO rely on their members to step up and lead their peers in directing conversations about funding, initiatives, and short- and long-term priorities. For ASCO members interested in developing the skills necessary to be leaders in the field, the Leadership Development Program (LDP) offers mentorship, hands-on learning, and invaluable insight into the operations of the Society.

Participants in this year-long program learn valuable leadership skills, network with and receive mentorship from ASCO leaders, gain exposure to U.S. government research agencies, and receive first-hand advocacy experience on Capitol Hill. In addition, they learn about the Society’s powerful role in developing the future of cancer care.

Effecting Real Change in the Society

LDP participants have the opportunity to effect tangible change in the Society, and past participants have suggested changes to the ASCO Annual Meeting that were implemented this year.

Dr. Debra Patt, credit Korey Howell

For example, LDP participants agreed that many ASCO members—both attendees and non-attendees alike—find the Meeting overwhelming in size and scope and that ASCO University® has a wealth of resources but is underused by members. After identifying these areas for improvement, LDP participants went to the ASCO Board of Directors and suggested two solutions: incorporating elements of personalization into the Annual Meeting website and encouraging the use of ASCO University by offering a free trial subscription.

As a result of these suggestions, the iPlanner and Attendee Resource Center now both feature personalized components based on registration information and responses from a brief questionnaire, and attendees can now access a free trial subscription to ASCO University Essentials to find online learning resources related to topics presented at the Meeting. Discussions are also underway regarding the optimization of adult learning and integration of more courses with meeting-specific content.

Dr. Reshma Jagsi

Achieving Success in Leadership Pursuits

Graduates of the LDP have taken on leadership roles in their own institutions and within the Society. In December 2015, Arti Hurria, MD, was elected to the ASCO Board of Directors, and in December 2016, Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil, and Debra Patt, MD, MPH, MBA were elected to the ASCO Board of Directors and to the Nominating Committee, respectively.

“When we trained to be doctors, we learned scientific and clinical information that is useful to help us make clinical decisions, care for patients, and practice medicine,” Dr. Patt said. “But, as they say, ‘What got you here won’t get you there,’ and the things that made us successful as young doctors in practice are different than what’s going to make us successful organizational leaders.”

“The LDP is amazing because it gives us a chance to reflect on how to lead, which is a focus of training in business school, but not necessarily in medical school,” Dr. Jagsi said. “It taught me new ways to approach challenging situations and understand other people. I find myself using those skills every day.”

Dr. Arti Hurria
“The LDP provides an unparalleled opportunity to develop a strong foundation of leadership skills,” Dr. Hurria said. “Ultimately, these essential skills enable us to be of greatest service to our profession and to our patients.”

The LDP positions participants to become more viable candidates for ASCO leadership by helping them gain a deeper understanding of how the Society works.

“Learning more about ASCO as an organization, as you do in the LDP, positions you well to become more engaged in the organization and to know how to use ASCO and its tremendous web of resources to improve cancer care,” Dr. Patt said.

“I always wanted to be active in ASCO, but I’m not convinced I would have been able to do that without the LDP,” Dr. Jagsi said. “It was such an incredible program because it not only armed me with leadership skills, but it also facilitated some wonderful relationships. It provided me with mentorship not only from some pretty incredible senior leaders in ASCO, but also from a network of peers and savvy staff members within ASCO, which ultimately really made me feel like I belonged at ASCO.”

Dr. Patt recalls a singular moment at the beginning of her work with the program that has stuck with her ever since. “When I started the program, I remember then-CEO of ASCO Allen S. Lichter, MD, FASCO, telling our group, ‘You think you signed up for this program for a year, but you’ve actually signed up for a lifetime of service. We are going to teach you how to lead, but we are counting on you to use what we teach you to lead ASCO and serve the future of cancer care.’” 

“Over the course of the year, ASCO teaches you about the organization, its many resources, and how to manage change and help lead the future of cancer care,” Dr. Patt said. “There is then the expectation that we need to help in these efforts. I hope my talented colleagues who completed the LDP and I can rise to these challenges.”

Applying for the Program

The first meeting of each LDP class takes place at the ASCO Annual Meeting, and subsequent gatherings take place at ASCO Headquarters in Alexandria, VA. Criteria for eligibility in the program include completion of final subspecialty training between 2008 and 2013 and interest in becoming a future leader in both ASCO and the field of oncology. This program requires a time commitment for travel and training. Applications for the 2018 to 2019 cycle will open July 1, 2017. Visit ASCO.org for more information.  

–Hilary Adams