The need for an aging and cancer curriculum for hematology/oncology trainees



      There has long been recognition for the need of education and training in aging and cancer. As the proportion of older individuals in the United States increases, with 20% being over 65 by 2030, it will become increasingly important for hematology–oncology trainees to have directed curriculum in geriatric-oncology.


      In order to better define the best way to meet the need for educational material specific to the special population of older patients for Oncology Training Programs, a survey was developed and administered to Hematology–Oncology Program Directors, in order to perform an educational needs assessment. The survey was administered during the 2008 Annual Meeting to 54 attendees at the Program Director's Breakfast. The survey asked questions regarding general program characteristics, as well as the importance of geriatric-oncology curriculum, a description of such current curriculum, the most important topics to cover in the curriculum, and recommendations for the format of the curriculum.


      The survey showed that 32% of training programs had a formal curriculum that covered topics in geriatric-oncology, 56% had an informal curriculum, and 2% had no curriculum. Most used a multimodality approach including clinical experience, journal clubs and lectures. Most hematology–oncology fellowship directors believe curriculum in geriatric-oncology is important; have faculty with either training or interest in geriatric-oncology that could facilitate curriculum delivery; and would use a curriculum if it were readily available.


      Investment in developing content and curriculum in geriatric-oncology would be very valuable and well-received.


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      Dr. Naeim received his MD from UCLA and is a board-certified geriatrician and medical oncologist. He has a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the RAND graduate school. He is Director of Geriatric-Oncology at UCLA as well as being Director of the Hematology–Oncology Fellowship Program and Director of Informatics for the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is Co-Chair of the Aging and Cancer Special Interest Group for the American Geriatrics Society and a Board Member of the International Society of Geriatric-Oncology. He is a past member of the ASCO Education and Clinical Practice Steering Committee.