The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) National Oncology Conference each year helps community oncologists approach both unique and typical challenges with innovative strategies. This year, one of the challenges addressed that has been increasingly raised throughout the year was the topic of disparities in the medical field.
To close out the ACCC 37th (Virtual) National Oncology Conference, keynote speaker Nick Smith-Stanley, MBA, addressed the topic of diversity and inclusion for women in medicine, and specifically in the field of oncology.
Smith-Stanley, associate director of finance and administration, Livestrong Cancer Institutes, Dell Medical School, associate director of administration and strategic planning, Department of Oncology, Dell Medical School, The University of Texas at Austin, explained the challenges faced by women in the oncology workplace and quantified the divide seen between the number of men and women in oncology and in positions of leadership in the medical field.
By discussing the lack of women in the field of oncology, he said, it will hopefully lead to developing strategies that address such challenges, which can then lead to real change.
He also presented how the Livestrong Cancer Institutes Dell Medical School has created a program that seeks to address this gap and give the future generation of women in medicine the tools they need to succeed.
The Growing Gender Divide Across a Medical Career Span
Oncology is known to be a male-dominated field in the healthcare space. Although the number of female students and physicians in the field has grown over the past few years, the proportion of women compared to men in medicine is still less than half. Further, the numbers get lower throughout the continuum of a medical career from medical student to physician to professor and then dean.
Smith-Stanley said that, encouragingly, for the first time in history, the number of female medical students is higher than the number of male students, but the difference is marginal. The rates decrease, however, over the course of a medical career. The number of female residents and fellows is below 50% and has not changed much in the last 10 years, and specific to oncology and hematology, the proportion of female residents and fellows is below about 45%.
Among practicing physicians, only 35% are female, and within the oncology/hematology field specifically, the rate is closer to one-third. However, this is increased from 10 years ago when the rate of female physicians was only about 28% overall and about 25% in the oncology field.
Within research in general, as of 2018, 50% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) positions were held by women, but specifically to science and engineering, only 28% of women hold positions in these fields.
Across all disciplines in science and oncology, we see women struggling to be considered for opportunities for promotion and leadership, Smith-Stanley said. One faculty member at Dell Medical School told us that throughout her career she has seen male colleagues with fewer accomplishments get promoted at the same time. In addition, she shared that at previous institutions, rules were not as rigid for promotion and tenure for men as they were for women, they were willing to bend the rules for men, but not for women. This shows that this is not only a personal or organizational issue, it is by far a systemic issue.
He pointed out that as a result, women hold fewer positions of leadership than men. Only 19% of department chairs were held by women in the year 2019 and only 21% of full professors are female.
This poses a greater problembecause of the lack of mentorship opportunities. If our students and junior faculty are unable to identify women in positions of leadership and mentorship to help guide their career then they are less likely to progress in their career as well, he commented.
He suggested that these rates reduce across the span of a medical career due to a lack of tools, mentorship, and support given to women in medicine.
Smith-Stanley offered some strategies to bridge the gender divide through organizational changes. Starting with culture, organizational leaders must embrace and promote an all-inclusive environment. Training on diversity and bias is one way to overcome these barriers and allow for change. Providing opportunities for professional development, including mentorship and networking, can also help to retain the women in the medical workforce.
Livestrong Cancer Institutes, he said, is one of the few cancer centers across the country that is led by a woman, S. Gail Eckhardt, MD, who is the director and associate dean of cancer programs at the company. As such, Dell Medical School is focused on addressing such healthcare disparities and leaders at the Livestrong Cancer Institutes feel that they have a responsibility to address the role that women play in cancer, research, and academics.
SHE Takes a Step Towards Overcoming Gender Disparities
The Livestrong Cancer Institute stressed the use of early education and mentorship to bridge the gender gap, which ultimately led to the development of the Summer Healthcare Experience (SHE) program in oncology. SHE is a free, immersive week-long program for introducing female-identifying high school juniors and seniors to a range of career opportunities in the cancer field. The program was launched in the summer of 2019 when 8 young women from Austin were selected with health program teachers and brought to the Dell Medical School to learn more about the various careers involved with cancer care.
The SHE program sought to empower young women to take control of their education and future careers by giving them tools to overcome challenges in the workplace. The high school students were given the opportunity to participate in research and interact with the clinical teams. Participating students also came away with a general knowledge of cancer, how it is treated, and the challenges that patients with cancer and their caregivers face. Additionally, the program promoted leadership skills and professionalism that could be used throughout their career, no matter the field.
During the week, the students worked with women in the cancer center to learn about cancer anatomy and how physicians work together for the care of patients with cancer. In the wet research lab, the students were able to see cell cultures and tumor slides and they also investigated different brain tumors in the neuro-oncology lab. The students were also able to join in on the molecular tumor boards to see the interaction between various departments for deciding on optimal care for a patient. In a survivorship session, the students were also able to meet with cancer survivors and their families and learn about their cancer journeys. Additionally, the students learned about health services research in the community and how health services researchers are investigating healthcare disparities in patients with cancer.
Throughout the week, the students were able to interact with female leaders from the cancer center, including center director Eckhardt, to hear about and learn from their experiences and the challenges they faced in their careers. They also met with a number of community organizations, from American Cancer Society to the Austin Center for Grief and Loss, to hear about how these organizations are assisting patients with cancer in the city.
Its not enough to just talk about equity and inclusion. You need to have people who are invested in the conversation and the desire to make a difference. Thats exactly what we saw in the first year of SHE, Smith-Stanley said.
The students were tasked with coming up with a comprehensive care plan for a cancer case based on all they learned during the week. These plans were then presented at the end of the week to faculty from Livestrong Cancer Institutes, Dell Medical Center, the students high school teachers, and their families.
We could not have been more thrilled with the results. They were confident, they were thoughtful, they were knowledgeable, they were compassionate. The transformation that we witnessed from Monday to Friday was remarkable, Smith-Stanley commented.
Moving forward, the Livestrong Cancer Institutes hopes to expand the SHE program to more students and extend the program to 2 weeks. The program also hopes to add in more biomedical research, entrepreneurship education, a college prep day, and even a post-program internship. Livestrong Cancer Institutes is also partnering with other organizations to spread the SHE program to 4 other cancer centers, and hopefully nationwide, although this expansion has been delayed by the coronavirus disease 2019.
Smith-Stanley N. Addressing the Disparities of Women in Oncology. Presented at: ACCC National Oncology Conference; September 14-18, 2020; Virtual.
- Study Finds Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Treatment of AL Amyloidosis - DocWire News - November 22nd, 2020
- New Virtual Reality Tool, Domestic Cats are SARS-CoV-2 Carriers, Combination Therapy Advances: COVID-19 Updates - Bio-IT World - November 22nd, 2020
- SEE | Smoking worsens Covid-19 infection in the airways, new study reveals - Health24 - November 22nd, 2020
- Could Cell Therapy Be The Answer To COVID-19? - CBS Boston - November 3rd, 2020
- CA Prop 14 Explained: What To Know Before You Vote Election Day - Los Angeles, CA Patch - November 3rd, 2020
- GMP Cell Banking Services Market Predicted to Accelerate the Growth by 2019-2029 - TechnoWeekly - November 3rd, 2020
- Making Progress Against Relapsed/ Refractory DLBCL Without CAR T - OncLive - November 3rd, 2020
- Orchard Therapeutics to Host Virtual R&D Investor Event on Friday, November 13, 2020 - GlobeNewswire - November 3rd, 2020
- Editorial Article: Combating cancer: The incubation technology accelerating CAR-T cell therapy development - SelectScience - October 31st, 2020
- Richters Transformation: When a Slow-Growing Cancer Turns Aggressive - SurvivorNet - October 31st, 2020
- Detroit Pistons, Make-A-Wish put a smile on the face of Commerce Township boy - The Oakland Press - October 31st, 2020
- NexImmune Establishes Research Initiative with City of Hope to Focus on Novel Immunotherapeutic Approaches to Acute Myeloid Leukemia - Yahoo Finance - October 31st, 2020
- HBS and Harvard's Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Receive $25 Million Gift from The Chris and Carrie Shumway Foundation to Support... - October 23rd, 2020
- Harnessing regeneration of retinal tissues: An option almost within reach - Ophthalmology Times - October 23rd, 2020
- Fate Therapeutics' and Celyad's CAR therapies in oncology offer potential - pharmaceutical-technology.com - October 23rd, 2020
- World Wide Stem Cell Treatment Centers Provides Exceptional Regenerative Treatment Options To Those in Need - GlobeNewswire - October 16th, 2020
- Proposition 14: Stem cell research bonds City Times - City Times - October 16th, 2020
- BrainStorm Announces Financial Results for the Third Quarter of 2020 and Provides a Corporate Update - PRNewswire - October 16th, 2020
- How a UCSF team is giving Cronutt the sea lion a second chance with neuroscience - University of California - October 16th, 2020
- Caliber Pain is Featured as a 2020 Top NYC Patient Rated Pain Management Practice by Find Local Doctors - PR Web - October 10th, 2020
- Report of the president: Appointments and promotions | Stanford News - Stanford University News - October 10th, 2020
- UTSW Scientist: 'We Need More Women Thinking Creatively in the Lab and Pushing Science Forward' - dallasinnovates.com - October 10th, 2020
- Here's what is known about Trump's COVID-19 treatment - Science Magazine - October 4th, 2020
- Election Guide: Here's What You Need to Know About Proposition 14 - NBC Bay Area - October 4th, 2020
- ASX up 2.3%, banks and energy outperform - The Sydney Morning Herald - October 4th, 2020
- Autologous Stem Cell and Non-Stem Cell Based Therapies MARKET 2020 |INDUSTRY ANALYSIS, SIZE, SHARE, TRENDS, MARKET DEMAND, GROWTH, OPPORTUNITIES AND... - September 25th, 2020
- Finding The Achilles Heel of A Killer Parasite - Newswise - September 25th, 2020
- Actinium Pharmaceuticals Successfully Completes First Dosing Cohort in the Phase 1 Study of Actimab-A and Venetoclax Combination Therapy in... - September 23rd, 2020
- Advances in the Treatment of Mantle Cell Lymphoma are Greatly Improving the Long-Term Outlook for Patients - Curetoday.com - September 23rd, 2020
- CytoDyn's Phase 2 Study of Leronlimab for Mild-to-Moderate COVID-19 Selected for Oral Presentation at the Special isirv-AVG Virtual Conference on... - September 23rd, 2020
- Opdivo (nivolumab) Demonstrated Superior Disease-Free Survival in Patients with Resected Esophageal or Gastroesophageal Junction Cancer Compared to... - September 23rd, 2020
- Coronavirus Researchers Discover How COVID-19 May Trigger Fatal Levels of Lung Inflammation - SciTechDaily - September 21st, 2020
- The Holistic Sanctuary Announces Exciting Plans to Expand Over Next 4 Years and Save More Lives - PRNewswire - September 21st, 2020
- Robert E. Windsor, MD, is being recognized by Continental Who's Who - PRNewswire - September 21st, 2020
- City of Hope Enters Licensing Agreement With Chimeric to Develop Its Pioneering Chlorotoxin CAR T Cell Therapy - Business Wire - September 21st, 2020
- Emerging immunotherapies in multiple myeloma - The BMJ - September 21st, 2020
- ADC Therapeutics Submits Biologics License Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Loncastuximab Tesirine for Treatment of Relapsed... - September 21st, 2020
- Oakland 24-year-old seeking multiethnic bone marrow donor - The Jewish News of Northern California - September 21st, 2020
- First-Line Treatment With Merck's KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) Doubled Five-Year Survival Rate (31.9%) Versus Chemotherapy (16.3%) in Certain Patients... - September 21st, 2020
- Coronavirus, Charity, and the Trolley Problem - Crooked - September 12th, 2020
- Targeted Approach Considered for the Treatment of Accelerated/Blast Phase MPNs - Targeted Oncology - September 1st, 2020
- Royal Biologics Announces the Acquisition of FIBRINET - PRNewswire - September 1st, 2020
- Novel Targets Outside of JAK Inhibition Inching into Myelofibrosis Treatment Landscape - Targeted Oncology - September 1st, 2020
- MaaT Pharma to Announce Clinical Data with its Lead Microbiota Biotherapeutic in Intestinal Acute GvHD at Virtual 46th Annual Meeting of the European... - August 28th, 2020
- The Inside Story Of Biotechs Barnum And His Covid Cures - Forbes - August 28th, 2020
- Mustang Bio: Slow, Steady Progress Towards Multiple Gene And CAR-T Therapy Goals - Seeking Alpha - August 25th, 2020
- Study sheds light on why retinal ganglion cells are vulnerable to glaucoma - Jill Lopez - August 19th, 2020
- Coronavirus Thursday update: UMN announces new stem cell treatment - TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press - August 15th, 2020
- Health and Fitness: Hip replacement surgery: getting back to what you love - taosnews - August 14th, 2020
- How MC Hammer And Other Performing Artists Are Sharing Their Love Of Science - Forbes - August 12th, 2020
- Chromosomal Rearrangements Associated with Chemotherapeutic Drug Resistance | McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP - JD Supra - August 8th, 2020
- Chinese Govt-Compensated Experts Plead Guilty to Thieving Investigation From an American Childrens Medi ... - 90Xtra - August 7th, 2020
- US government considers ethics of aborted tissue research - Angelus News - August 7th, 2020
- Mesa Discusses Treating Myelofibrosis and Other MPNs - Targeted Oncology - August 7th, 2020
- Startup Accelerator: Volumetric Aims to Be the Tissue Bioprinting Farm of the Future - 3DPrint.com - August 6th, 2020
- Cord blood offers hope for rare diseases and ethnic minorities - The Province - August 6th, 2020
- FDA touts advanced manufacturing to address Covid-19 shortfalls - Endpoints News - August 5th, 2020
- Cancer Research Institute Awards $30.2 Million in Grants and Fellowships to Support Basic and Clinical Research in Immunology and Cancer Immunotherapy... - August 5th, 2020
- RenovaCare Appoints Dr. Lydia M. Evans to Its Board of Directors and Increases Board Membership - GlobeNewswire - August 4th, 2020
- MediVet Biologics Rebrands as Ardent Animal Health - Benzinga - August 3rd, 2020
- Church Point Police Captain dies from COVID-19 complications: 'Go and protect the heavens, my dearest friend' - The Advocate - August 1st, 2020
- BMT survivor study finds significant breast cancer risk in young women who received total body irradiation - The Mix - July 31st, 2020
- Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Enhance Cognition in Healthy Older Adults - PsychCentral.com - July 29th, 2020
- The surprising recovery with stem cells of 26 COVID-19 patient in Hidalgo - Explica - July 29th, 2020
- Johnny Tabaie is proud to announce the most powerful Stem Cell Therapy - Press Release - Digital Journal - July 29th, 2020
- COVID-19 Fibroblast Based Cell Therapy Candidate Shown to Reduce Lung Scarring in Aggressive Animal Model - El Paso Inc. - July 25th, 2020
- 'Self-eating' process of stem cells may be the key to new regenerative therapies - 7thSpace Interactive - July 23rd, 2020
- R3 International Now Including Exosomes with Stem Cell Therapy Program for Autism in Mexico - PR Web - July 23rd, 2020
- CAR T-Cell Therapy Offers Potential Solution for Relapse in MCL, But With Toxicity Risk - Targeted Oncology - July 22nd, 2020
- Fine-tuning adoptive cell therapy for advanced cancers - Newswise - July 22nd, 2020
- Global Cart Cell Therapy Market To Grow At A CAGR of 29.4% With The Emergence Of Immunotherapies In Medical Treatment - GlobeNewswire - July 22nd, 2020
- In Remission for 10 Years: Long-term Data on CAR-T Therapy - Medscape - July 21st, 2020
- MRFR predicts an Upsurge in the Leukemia Therapeutics Market valuation to USD 10.7 billion by 2023 - Jewish Life News - July 21st, 2020
- Cannabis Found Effective to Treat Sickle Cell Disease Pain - The Weed Blog - July 20th, 2020
- End of Palestinian Authority coordination with Israel in response to annexation threat: decision already impacting medical referrals - occupied... - July 20th, 2020
- Addiction Treatment Market Survey Report 2020 Stats and Forecasts to 2026 - Cole of Duty - July 18th, 2020
- 13 Promising Covid Treatments Emerging from Israel - The Jewish Voice - July 15th, 2020
- New Clues from Fruit Flies about the Critical Role of Sex Hormones in Stem Cell Control - Newswise - July 15th, 2020
- Impact of Covid-19 on Preimplantation Genetic Testing Market is Projected to Grow Massively in Near Future - Cole of Duty - July 13th, 2020
- Covid-19 Update : Cord Stem Cell Banking Market 2020 Outlook and Deep Study of Top Key Players Cryo-Save AG, Lifecell, StemCyte India Therapeutics... - July 13th, 2020