These sessions allow those affected by cancer and experts in the field of treating cancer to reflect on their experiences through the art of storytelling. Attendees will listen to interesting and compelling stories that are not traditionally covered. The program will include stories that touch on policy, engagement, adverse experiences, triumph and diversity and inclusion. All stories contribute to a better means of understanding and treating patients and to providing resident education for the next generation.

Storytelling: Delivering Equitable and Sustainable Oncologic Care in a Changing Environment: Identifying Opportunities to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Monday, October 2, 2023 | 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Climate change is a major threat to human health, with disproportionate impacts on marginalized and vulnerable communities. These impacts range from increased exposure to carcinogens to disruptions in healthcare systems during climate-related disasters. Marginalized communities, such as Black and Latinx populations, are particularly vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change due to structural injustices and discriminatory policies. Despite being on the frontlines of the crisis, health care contributes ~10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, with a significant portion attributed to hospital and outpatient care. Given this urgent and growing threat, significant opportunity exists to keep radiation oncologists informed and collectively build climate resiliency within practice and communities. In this session, attendees will be challenged to:

  • Rethink - understand how climate change impacts the health of patients, especially those from communities targeted for marginalization, as well as the intersection between climate change, access to care, health, equity and inclusivity;
  • Reduce - learn strategies aimed at reducing the environmental impact of oncology care and the harms and burdens associated with climate change and climate-driven disasters; and
  • Reuse/Recycle - develop actionable steps to reduce the environmental impact of clinical practice within oncology departments, institutions and health systems. And discuss, how lessons learned from resilience/adaptation efforts to other disasters (e.g., the COVID pandemic) can be used in adaptation and mitigation efforts aimed at addressing to climate change.

Following discussions by our panelists, a Q&A period will be dedicated to answer regionally specific questions that attendees may have related to climate and health.

Storytelling: Narrative Medicine and the Practice of Crafting Stories
Monday, October 2, 2023 | 10:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

This Storytelling Session focuses on narrative medicine, which involves reading, writing and sharing stories about health and illness. It will begin with an introduction to narrative medicine: its definition and origin, potential benefits for physicians and patients, tools for honing writing skills and resources for publishing creative work. Then, in a series of presentations, a panel of physicians will share what they are most passionate about in the realm of telling stories: creative writing craft, teaching narrative medicine, exploring pathos and irony, processing grief, empowering patients to tell their stories through writing, poetry and emotion, and a journal editor’s experience. The speakers will provide their unique perspectives on how and why they write, sharing narrative pieces written by both physicians and patients. Their hope is that audience members will leave the session feeling inspired to craft their own stories, empowered by tools to help them do so.

Storytelling: When Can I Speak? Expert Perspectives on Managing Experiences with Workplace Discrimination
Tuesday, October 3, 2023 | 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Discrimination and bias are increasingly recognized as pervasive problems throughout medicine leading to fewer opportunities for promotion and professional advancement of women and minorities. Relative to many medical specialties, radiation oncology has a disproportionately low number of women and minorities in senior faculty rank and leadership positions in academic and community practice. This storytelling session will highlight experiences with discrimination and bias and illustrate how experiences are similar or different based on intersectional identities and institutional cultures. Panelists will share options and strategies for managing difficult experiences with discrimination. The session will illustrate benefits and limitations of organizational and institutional structures in addressing discrimination and bias in the workplace.

Storytelling: Navigating Uncomfortable Situations: Small Changes for Big Impact in Health Care Equity for LGBTQ2SIA+ Populations
Tuesday, October 3, 2023 | 2:45 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.

One of the barriers to health care equity for the LGBTQ2SIA+ population is the lack of education, training and comfort that practicing clinicians have in creating safe environments where effective and appropriate care can be provided. Needs assessments have established that clinicians lack training for engagement with this demographic and desire additional training and support in providing care for LGBTQ2SIA+ patients. Lack of familiarity and understanding of language and cultural nuances can lead to misunderstandings, discomfort and distrust between practitioners and patients and dissatisfaction with care as well as poorer outcomes.

It is essential for radiation oncology professionals to be familiar with best practices for establishing and maintaining work and treatment environments that are welcoming and safe and where appropriate patient care is available for LGBTQ2SIA+ identifying patients. Engagement with individuals from diverse populations, without having a robust skill set, can lead to awkward or even unintentionally harmful interactions. This session will go over current guidance on effective engagement and the opportunity to workshop these concepts by participating in small-group guided scenarios.

American Society for Radiation Oncology
251 18th Street South, 8th Floor
Arlington, VA 22202
Telephone: 703-502-1550


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