The Positive and Powerful Effects of Participating in the ASCO Leadership Development Program

The Positive and Powerful Effects of Participating in the ASCO Leadership Development Program


Melissa Dillmon, MD

ASCO is a successful organization because of members’ willingness to volunteer their time to the development and improvement of the Society. In recognizing the need to train new leaders to keep the organization vital for both the academic and private-practice membership, Allen S. Lichter, MD, FASCO, chief executive officer of ASCO, established the Leadership Development Program (LDP) in 2009, with Robert J. Mayer, MD, FASCO, acting as the program chair.

The mission of this program is to identify and train physicians who are less than 10 years out from their fellowship program to become future leaders in ASCO and other organizations. The program has provided leadership skills training, an orientation to ASCO’s structures and programs, and has helped facilitate the placement of program graduates into leadership positions within ASCO. On a personal level, this program has improved my ability to resolve conflict and communicate with the media, pushed me to apply for positions of leadership and influence at my clinic and in the community, and has opened opportunities for participation in ASCO at the national and state society level.

Key Points
The Leadership Development Program (LDP) identifies and trains physicians who are less than 10 years out from their fellowship program to become future leaders in ASCO and other organizations.
The LDP places its graduates on one of ASCO’s 22 committees or on an ASCO working group.
LDP participants work on strategy development, interpersonal effectiveness and teamwork, media communication, and conflict management.

Personal Experience

In the first year of the LDP’s inception, there were many applications for participation. I applied, and, unfortunately, I did not make the final selection. With much encouragement by one of my partners who was active within ASCO at the state and national level, I reapplied and was chosen for the class of 2011. I suppose the first lesson I learned from the program was perseverance.

As a private-practice physician, I was one of two non–academic oncologists chosen in 2010. I had been out in the community for 6 years practicing general medical oncology and had a very busy practice. My partners and my clinic were very supportive of my participation and time away from the clinic. It was time well spent.

In addition to special sessions at the Annual Meeting, we had three meetings at ASCO headquarters that focused on different skills that are essential to becoming an effective leader in medicine and within ASCO. We worked on strategy development, interpersonal effectiveness and teamwork, media communication, and conflict management. We also met with the administrative staff of ASCO and learned how our Society interacts with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Capitol Hill, patient advocacy organizations, drug manufacturers, and insurers to carry out our mission statement: conquering cancer through research, education, prevention, and delivery of high-quality patient care.

Within the LDP, participants are placed into small workgroups and given a project that is chosen by the ASCO Board of Directors. My group was composed of two academic medical oncologists, a pediatric oncologist, an ASCO staff member, and our mentor, Dr. Mayer. The opportunity to work with these physicians on a frequent basis both in person and by teleconference was beneficial both personally and professionally. We also became close with the other mentors selected for our class, David H. Johnson, MD, FASCO, MACP; and Patrick J. Loehrer, MD, FASCO. We presented our project on Guidelines and Pathway development to the ASCO Board of Directors during the 2011 ASCO Annual Meeting, and we eventually published our findings in Journal of Oncology Practice.

Long-Term Benefits

Although publishing an article was certainly rewarding, the skill set that the LDP experience provided me with was a less tangible but more valuable reward. The program made me more effective within my state society, my clinic, and within ASCO. Upon my return from the program, I ran for election to the Board of Directors of my clinic, which is more than 150 members strong. I knew this was the right position for me; this was where I could use my talents most effectively within the organization. I became the first female to sit on the Board since the clinic’s creation in the 1960s.

Since graduating from the LDP, I have become more vocal and engaged as a member of our state oncology society’s executive board, and because of this involvement, I was elected president of the state executive board. I have had to communicate with the media and help write political position statements for our organization, and I have relied on my training and resources from ASCO in these ventures.

ASCO’s Leadership Development Program Prepares Future Generation of Oncology Leaders
ASCO launched the Leadership Development Program (LDP) in 2009 to help ensure strong leadership within the evolving field of oncology. The program was designed to provide formal leadership training for those interested in improving their skills and serving in increasingly challenging roles within ASCO and other organizations.

Through the LDP, participants network and receive mentorship from ASCO leadership, gain exposure to U.S. government research agencies, enhance leadership skills through interactive sessions, and receive first-hand advocacy experience on Capitol Hill.

“Building relationships: that is the key to the ASCO LDP program. In just a short 6-month immersion, I’ve had the opportunity for personal mentorship with some of the key leaders of the ASCO organization,” said Kurt C. Demel, MD, MBA, of Regions Hospital Cancer Care Center, and 2014-2015 LDP participant. “The ASCO LDP program is an amazing opportunity for individuals in their early or mid-career who seek out professional growth potential—not only within the ASCO organization but within their home institutions as well. The skills we learn are implemented in real life on a daily basis.”

Each LDP class is divided into three groups, with each group assigned an ASCO strategic issue and a senior mentor. Participants are expected to research the issue, hold weekly calls, and develop a plan with their groups. At the end of the year, groups will make formal recommendations to the ASCO Board of Directors. Additionally, all participants will be assigned to an ASCO Committee or Work Group upon completion of the program.

Each year, ASCO limits the LDP class size to 12 participants. There are five mandatory live sessions—two at ASCO’s Annual Meeting and three at ASCO’s Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.
The 2016-2017 LDP Class

Those who have completed their final subspecialty training between 2006 and 2011 and are interested in becoming a future leader in ASCO and the field of oncology are encouraged to apply.
 

Applications for the 2016-2017 class will be available online in July and are due September 24. Those selected to participate will be notified in March 2016.

Email professionaldevelopment@asco.org if you have any questions regarding the Leadership Development Program or application process.

The LDP places its graduates on one of ASCO’s 22 committees or on an ASCO working group. For those LDP graduates, like me, who had not gotten involved before at the national level, this provided an easier entry into influential positions.

Because of the way the LDP positively affected my career, I have been an advocate for leadership development within my clinic and at one of our local colleges, where I serve as a mentor to young pre-med students who hopefully will become leaders in medicine and in their communities. The members of the work group who select the new LDP classes recognize participation in community leadership opportunities as an important component of an applicant’s profile.

It is important for us to recognize the diversity of our society—this diversity makes ASCO a better representative voice of the field of oncology and more effective in its mission to improve patient care and patient outcomes. The LDP chairs have made a conscious effort to reflect this diversity in the makeup of each class, and this has been a key factor in its success.

The ASCO LDP has had a positive and powerful effect on my career, and I am confident this program will help ensure the successful future of our organization.