Today the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) announced six additional medical schools will participate in the second year of the Oncology Summer Internship (OSI) program, an immersive, four-week summer internship for rising second-year medical students from groups underrepresented in medicine (UIM).1 In 2022, ASCO and a total of 11 medical schools will lead approximately 50 students in a hybrid curriculum developed by members of ASCO’s OSI Advisory Group and each participating medical school’s internship leaders.
Launched in Summer 2021, the OSI is part of ASCO’s efforts to increase the diversity of the oncology workforce. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health notes that a diverse medical workforce is vital in addressing health disparities.2 In the oncology workforce, only 3% of practicing oncologists are Black and only 4.7% are Hispanic or Latino, despite respectively making up 13.4% and 18.5% of the U.S. population. 3,4
“Our Oncology Summer Internship program represents a tangible step in ASCO’s mission to infuse equity into everything we do by engaging diverse medical students at a vital phase of their educational journey to seriously consider a career in oncology,” said ASCO President Everett E. Vokes, MD, FASCO. “The program’s continued success will help shape a future oncology workforce that more fully represents the diversity of individuals with cancer we serve.”
The schools added to the national OSI cohort include the University of Kansas Medical Center, the University of Michigan, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Baylor College of Medicine. Sites returning for a second year as part of the OSI include the University of Arizona, the University of California, San Francisco, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Rochester, and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.
During the four-week session, students will participate in ASCO-hosted virtual education forums led by national leaders in oncology and will be assigned to oncology faculty at their medical school or in their local regions for daily clinical shadowing in cancer care settings. Networking and social events will be offered twice weekly by the host medical schools so that students can connect with their peers, community, and local mentors.
Students who expressed interest in the OSI were selected by site leaders based on various criteria, including the strength of their application, future training and career goals, as well as their overall motivation for participating in the program. Up to five students were chosen by each institution.
“Students participating in the first year of this program gained unique insight into the cancer care and oncology field,” said Nadine J. McCleary, MD, MPH, Chair of ASCO’s Oncology Summer Internship Advisory Group. “As we move forward, we’re thrilled that even more medical students will be exposed to this high-caliber program, have direct contact with oncologists who share their passion for oncology, and have the unique opportunity to seriously consider a career in oncology.”
The OSI program will provide ongoing career development opportunities for participants and builds upon the other ASCO programs in this pathway, including: The Medical Student Rotation for Underrepresented Populations; the Annual Meeting Resident Research Award for Underrepresented Populations; and the Diversity Mentoring Program.
ASCO’s internship program was inspired by efforts made under a Harvard Medical School summer program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, established over five decades ago to prepare underrepresented students for educational and professional success. The program has since expanded to include coursework, seminars, and clinical shadowing to provide students with a better understanding of career options in oncology.
The OSI is supported by Conquer Cancer, The ASCO Foundation. Student participants receive a stipend to support their full engagement in the internship program and a travel stipend to attend the ASCO Annual Meeting the year following their OSI participation. 2021 OSI student participants will attend the Annual Meeting taking place this June.
The program application was open to all U.S. medical schools with an associated cancer center, oncology department/division, or accredited oncology fellowship training program. Schools were selected based on their ability to meet the program requirements, their demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, as well as the strength of their plan for supporting their students’ oncology interests during the OSI and beyond. ASCO will announce the 2023 application process in Fall 2022. With the OSI, ASCO aims to develop a successful oncology internship model that medical schools can implement independently as part of their curriculum to introduce medical students to the diverse career options in and the promise of the field of oncology.
Learn more about ASCO’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Action Plan and additional efforts to diversify the oncology workforce at asco.org/equity.
1. Association of American Medical Colleges: Underrepresented in Medicine definition. https://www.aamc.org/what-we-do/diversity-inclusion/underrepresented-in-medicine
2. Jackson, CS., & Gracia, JN. (2014). Addressing Health and Health-Care Disparities: The Role of a Diverse Workforce and the Social Determinants of Health. Public Health Reports, 129(1_suppl2), 57–61. https://doi.org/10.1177/00333549141291s211
3. United States Census Bureau Quick Facts: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219
4. Association of American Medical Colleges: Diversity in Medicine: Facts and Figures, 2019. https://www.aamc.org/data-reports/workforce/report/diversity-medicine-facts-and-figures-2019