Q&A with incoming ASTRO chair, Dr. Thomas Eichler

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Q&A with incoming ASTRO chair, Dr. Thomas Eichler

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | October 20, 2020
Rad Oncology
From the October 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: In your opinion, what are the key reasons someone should join ASTRO?
TE: As the largest radiation oncology specialty society in the world, with 10,000 members from 87 countries, we have a very large footprint and a full portfolio. ASTRO has five councils that act as the pillars of our specialty. Those are Science, Education, Quality and Clinical Affairs, Government Relations, and Health Policy. These five councils are the voice of ASTRO, the voice of our membership. The councils, along with ASTRO staff, provide the goods and services our members have come to expect, ranging from education, to representation before regulatory bodies; from promoting and funding research, to producing guidelines for safe, evidence-based management of cancer patients. Ongoing membership in ASTRO, in my opinion, is one of the best investments a radiation oncologist can make.

HCB News: Besides the annual meeting being virtual-only this year, what other changes or updates are notable for attendees?

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TE: In all honesty, the words “virtual only” really don’t do justice to the platform that ASTRO is rolling out. It is extremely impressive. I’ve been part of several virtual meetings since March, and I will tell you that what I’ve seen thus far is superior to anything I imagined. This will not simply be another Zoom call.

In terms of new features, we will offer three Master Classes to attendees. The first one is in “Radiopharmaceutical Therapy.” The second one is “Professional Development, Leadership and Emotionally Intelligent Communication.” The final Class is “Cannabis in Cancer Care.” There will also be storytelling sessions on a range of topics like geographic access and COVID-19, sessions where other leading medical societies will present the latest cancer breakthroughs in their disciplines, and digital posters with live narration from the authors. My Presidential Symposium on Sunday will take a deeper dive on global health issues with “The Global Clinic: Radiation Oncology in the 21st Century.” This session will focus on access disparity to radiation oncology services with a panel of all-star international faculty presenters.

Another upside to the meeting being virtual is that content will be available on-demand for 30 days after the meeting. This means the usual harvest of CMEs jumps from about 35 hours for a regular live meeting to the potential for acquiring more than 200 hours of CME. It’s a wonderful investment and I hope people take the time to register and join us.

HCB News: What are the challenges facing radiation oncology today and has the pandemic exacerbated any of them?

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