Society of Neuro-Oncology 2021 Annual Meeting Update: 3rd Annual Neuro-Oncology Fellow and Early Clinician/Investigator Career Retreat Summary
Author: Lauren Schaff, MD
Department of Neurology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
Summary of the 3rd Annual Neuro-Oncology Fellow and Early Clinician/Investigator Career Retreat
One of the highlights of the 2021 annual meeting of the Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) was the Neuro-Oncology Fellow and Early Clinician/Investigator Career Retreat. This year was the 3rd such event, organized by a planning committee headed by Dr. Scott Plotkin. The retreat took place over 5 hours on Thursday afternoon, November 18, 2021. More than 50 attendees represented a wide range of specialties including neuro-oncology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, neurosurgery, and laboratory investigators. Approximately three-quarters of attendees identified as being in training while the remaining 25% were compromised primarily of those in the early stages of their career.
The retreat was divided into three sessions focused on delivering practical advice: “Job Preference and Search,” “Beyond the Hospital Walls,” and finally, concurrent small group specialty-specific breakout sessions.
Job Preference and Search
The focus of this portion of the retreat was identifying potential career paths after training and practical considerations for the job search process. Presenters included Dr. Sylvia Kurz, discussing opportunities in academic medicine, Drs. Mark Gilbert and Elizabeth Duke, with opportunities at the National Institute of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Lauren Abrey on a career in industry. Next, Dr. Roy Strowd led a thoughtful discussion defining the roles of mentors and sponsors in one’s career, as well as how to identify these crucial individuals and nurture these relationships, especially after training ends. Dr. Vinay Puduvalli gave an extremely practical presentation entitled “How to Give a Job Talk”. The session covered the nuts and bolts of a good presentation including the importance of knowing your audience, how to highlight your own contributions, and how it’s ok to not have all the answers. He also provided important tips on identifying career opportunities and institutions that are a good fit for one’s specific career goals. A clear highlight was the engaging question and answer session where panelists, which included many of the speakers as well as Dr. Milan Chedda, provided insight on career tracks and negotiating start up packages.
Beyond the Hospital Walls
The second session of the retreat focused on questions related to life beyond practice and the lab. First. Dr. Erik Sulman (not a financial advisor!) presented his take on Finances: What, When and How. His talk was full of practical advice, necessary and appropriate for medical professionals at any career stage. Following, Dr. Maciej Mrugala presented a discussion of how to get involved and how to build and maintain your network, both on the local and national level through societies such as SNO or the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Dr. Eva Galanis discussed the practicalities of participation in National Consortia and Cooperative Groups through clinical trials. And finally, Dr. Edjah Nduom single-handedly boosted SNO’s social medial presence by encouraging us all to dust off those old Twitter accounts and communicate online with a focus and a story.
Late afternoon, the group split by subspecialty to better focus on specific needs of trainees. Small groups dedicated to neuro/medical oncologists, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, and independent laboratory investigators ran concurrently and tackled issues of negotiation and start up packages, billing, and balancing a clinical career with research.
The 3rd Annual Neuro-Oncology Fellow and Early Clinician/Investigator Career Retreat was followed by a networking reception. Attendees turned in program assessments reflecting the program’s value. All sessions were rated “good” or “excellent” by at least 90% of attendees and >95% indicated the course was high value and would be recommended to colleagues.