Nearly a quarter of Americans live in rural areas, which consistently report higher cancer mortality rates than urban and suburban areas. Among the complex causes for this disparity is that only 10 percent of physicians practice in rural areas and almost 4 out of 10 rural residents live at least an hour from an urban area. Finding the time, transportation, and financial resources for travel to urban academic medical centers, the standard bearers for quality cancer care, often proves difficult.
Most rural residents have their cancer treated in their communities, although a survey suggests rural physicians are less likely to attend national medical conferences and may have difficulty keeping up with important oncology literature.
To help address this disparity, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University recently released a new web-based continuing medical education (CME) program designed to bring clinical research findings and expert advice on oncology via e-newsletter to physicians practicing in rural and small-town community settings. The goal of the program, Advances in Oncology for Community-based Oncologists, is to prepare physicians for the rapid integration of treatment advances into their clinical practices.
T.S. Ravikumar, M.D., an editor of Advances in Oncology for Community-based Oncologists and the NCCCP medical director at Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, notes the importance of continuing outreach. "It is estimated that 85 percent of cancer care in the United States is delivered at the community level, far from the academic and research programs that change definitions of best care," said Dr. Ravikumar. "Programs like this e-newsletter can further support the education of those practitioners who are treating the majority of oncology patients in the U.S. today."
Christine Pellegrino, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Einstein, is course director for the program. "In this age of web-based and interactive training methods," said Dr. Pellegrino, "it is critical to harness these technologies in the service of providing the best medical care to patients, wherever they live. By targeting medical specialties through new continuing education programs, we can do a great deal to reduce the information gap between local physicians and urban specialists."
Advances in Oncology for Community-based Oncologist aims to provide interactive learning in an easy-to-access electronic format that outlines timely changes in standards of care in medical oncology, practice management and highlights from recent research and literature.
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