ASTRO — A Time for Connection and Curiosity

Every year, the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) hosts one of the largest meetings in the world for radiation oncologists. The theme for this year’s annual meeting is “Pay It Forward: Partnering With Our Patients,” spotlighting patient relationships and how we can best serve them. There will be discussions about communication as partnership and meeting our patients halfway, as well as keynote addresses from Dr. Arif Kamal and Dr. Anupam Bapu Jena on patient support, compassionate care, and the invisible forces that shape our health. Additionally, there will be several other educational sessions and presentations on the latest breaking research, all of which promise to be informative and exciting.

Meanwhile, residents will alight with the energy and nerves of hungry job seekers, hoping to make new connections and foster old relationships alike. ASTRO’s annual meeting presents a unique opportunity when hundreds of radiation oncologists gather to share knowledge and experiences, inspiring younger generations and pushing the field forward.

With so many brilliant brains in one city, it is an excellent chance for mentorship, leadership, and networking, especially when it comes to meeting potential employers.

Traditionally, the meeting has always been an occasion for “soft” interviews for senior residents. Such face-to-face coffee breaks are exciting and potentially quite fruitful.

But just as important as networking are the educational sessions and research presentations, often on the cutting edge of the field. From alternate fractionation regimens to concurrent immunotherapy and integrating artificial intelligence and adaptive radiotherapy, there is an abundance of information being presented. It is a time to collect ideas for research; to be curious and inquisitive; to stretch the horizons of the mind. It would be a shame to miss out on such a powerful slew of research, some of which will certainly influence the standard of care and the direction of radiation oncology at large.

ASTRO’s annual meeting is a wonderful time for connecting with fellow radiation oncologists and supporting future career goals. But we should be sure not to discount the wealth of knowledge and promising advances in radiation oncology that abound.

Kyra N. McComas, MD

PGY4 resident physician, Department of Radiation Oncology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center.