By Beth Erickson, MD, FASTRO, Chair, ASTRO Fellows Selection Committee
Do you have what it takes to be an ASTRO Fellow? We are very excited to announce the 2023 Class of ASTRO Fellows. These individuals all have one thing in common: a commitment to serving their professional organization.
The ASTRO office receives many phone calls regarding eligibility requirements to achieve ASTRO Fellowship. In this blog, I will highlight the prerequisites for consideration and also share with you what the ASTRO Fellows Selection Committee looks for in candidates worthy of holding the FASTRO designation.
Let’s start with the prerequisites:
- Typically, 15 years of ASTRO Active, International or Emeritus membership, post training, are required. However, there are instances, which I will explain later, where members are considered who are shy of the 15-year membership requirement.
- Significant service to ASTRO. Similar to other professional societies, e.g., ASCO, ABS, ACRO, an important requirement for fellowship is volunteer service. Examples of ASTRO service include committee involvement, speaking engagements at ASTRO meetings, serving as a reviewer or on the editorial board for ASTRO’s journals and participation in ASTRO’s Advocacy Day.
A few years ago, the Committee put together a points chart to help evaluate an applicant’s level of service. The question we are frequently asked is, how many points do I need to be eligible for Fellowship. The number of points is evaluated as part of the entire application package, therefore there is not a specific number. I will say, however, that 100 points is a good starting point for applicants with 15 years of membership. Applicants who are shy of the 15-year requirement (11-14 years) must have contributed an extraordinary level of service, far exceeding 100 points.
Wondering how many points you have accumulated? Log in to the ASTRO website and on your MyASTRO page you can access your FASTRO Service Transcript. Note that some of your ASTRO service may not be recorded on your transcript. That is why taking the time to thoroughly complete your Fellow application is extremely important. Staff will validate the service provided on your application and add verified service to your transcript.
Once the membership and service prerequisites are met, the Committee looks at the application and letters of nomination and support for commendable contributions in one of four pathways — research, patient care, education and leadership/service (to the field). Applicants are required to select and provide details on a primary and secondary pathway. Here’s a bit of a description of each pathway (Note: these pathways are in addition to the minimum 15 years of membership and significant service to ASTRO prerequisites):
- Research: Significant research as evidenced by grants, authorship of scientific papers, chapters or books that have been a guiding influence in the immediate or future aspects of the practice of radiation oncology.
- Patient Care: Significant contribution to patient care and clinical excellence as evidenced by improvement in the standard of practice in the management of disease.
- Education: Significant contribution to the advancement of education in the field as evidenced by participation in residency training, faculty service, extensive presentations at regional or national meetings, or providing significant mentorship to those joining or active in the field.
- Leadership/Service: Demonstration of leadership and service that has advanced the specialty as a whole. This can be in the form of extensive volunteerism, advancement of scope of practice, patient advocacy and legislative and regulatory issues. Service to medicine, including ASTRO and other societies may be considered but in the context of the total application.
Once again, let me stress the importance of thoughtfully completing the Fellow application. Earning the FASTRO designation is a distinguished honor reserved for individuals who have demonstrated a sustained, thoughtful commitment to ASTRO and the field. The Committee takes into consideration how seriously an applicant values this distinction by the quality of the application submitted.
A letter of nomination and three letters of support round out the application process. The Committee reads each letter and looks for information to substantiate the candidate’s qualifications for Fellowship.
- Letter of nomination: Only an ASTRO Fellow may nominate a candidate for ASTRO Fellow.
- Letters of support: Letters in support of a nomination must come from the following subset of ASTRO members: past or current members of the ASTRO Board of Directors, ASTRO Gold Medalists, ASTRO Fellows, and former or current chairs of radiation oncology programs. Emeritus members, except Gold Medalists, are not eligible to nominate or support.
ASTRO membership is comprised of incredible individuals who are devoted to curing patients with cancer. If the FASTRO designation was based on that alone, all members would qualify. However, the FASTRO designation is meant to recognize individuals who are devoted to ASTRO through membership, extraordinary volunteer service and engagement, in addition to accomplishments in the field.
Please join me in congratulating the 29 members of the 2023 Class of ASTRO Fellows. They join a distinguished group of 421 colleagues.
If you have any questions about the application or review process, please email or refer to information on our website.
By Jennifer Jang, ASTRO Communications
The Survivor Circle is celebrating its 20th year in recognizing patient organizations. The Survivor Circle Grant is one of ASTRO’s ways of giving back to the cancer community, and grantees are announced during the ASTRO Annual Meeting. Last year at the 64th Annual Meeting in San Antonio, ASTRO had the privilege to provide a $10,000 Survivor Circle Grant for two Texas-based organizations, ThriveWell Cancer Foundation and Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC). ASTRO followed up with both organizations to learn more about how the grants provided tangible aid since last fall.
To start, ThriveWell Cancer Foundation, is dedicated to finding the cure for cancer by funding cancer research, providing patient support and offering programs to improve the quality of life for patients and their families. Founded in 2007, ThriveWell furthers their mission by providing the following services in the San Antonio and Bexar County community:
- Patient assistance: ThriveWell Cancer Foundation provides patients with financial assistance to offset the costs associated with their medical care, as well as treatment related transportation and lodging assistance.
- Diva&Dude: Diva&Dude is a fitness and nutrition program offering a variety of exercise classes and nutritional counseling for cancer patients and survivors, provided at no charge.
- Cancer research: ThriveWell Cancer Foundation supports local investigators who conduct cutting-edge research in the fight against cancer.
ThriveWell Cancer Foundation specifically used the Survivor Circle grant to expand their Patient Assistance Program, which now serves record numbers of patients in their community. The grant has been used to help 10 cancer patients pay for their radiation treatment co-payments. ThriveWell paid those patients’ co-payments, up to $1,000 each, which allowed them to fully comply with their treatment plan.
The Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC) was the other Survivor Circle grantee. Most recently, BCRC shared that their Patient Navigation program is as strong as ever in providing guidance and education to people diagnosed with breast cancer in central Texas. BCRC provides support to clients with monthly support groups, online forums and their Compass Crew program for health and wellness. Because clients have become more comfortable with virtual gatherings, that has been their most recent format, but they plan to offer in-person meetings as well in hopes of clients being more comfortable with that format. Last November, BCRC hosted a retreat for their metastatic clients and 18 attended, with activities like jewelry making, aromatherapy and body movement. It was a time for them to celebrate each other, have fun and also visit with the patient navigators.
BCRC used the Survivor Circle grant to support their patient navigators, who are critical to the mission of empowering those affected by breast cancer with personalized support and compassion.
BCRC has been providing services for over 28 years in Central Texas. In 2022, they served over 1,200 clients. They provided over 7,600 hours of patient navigation and resolved 94.5% of all clients’ needs. Over their 28 years, they have supported thousands of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Unfortunately, some clients have a recurrence or progression of their breast cancer. At any point, whether it has been one year or 10 years, they can access BCRC’s services whenever they need them. BCRC’s impact is to ensure any woman or man who has been diagnosed with breast cancer has the support to navigate through their initial diagnosis, treatment and into survivorship specifically equipped with the knowledge and care they need to lead the life they want for as long as they can.
ThriveWell Cancer Foundation and BCRC have used their funds to enhance their impact. This October, ASTRO will award two $12,500 grants to Breast Cancer Angels and Cancer Support Community Los Angeles during the Annual Meeting in San Diego as we celebrate 20 years of the grant program! The program is an opportunity for support organizations from the host state of California to advance their initiatives and receive recognition in the ASTRO community. For questions about the grant, contact Beth Bukata.