Attracting the Brightest and the Best to Oncology: The ESMO-ESO course for medical students

With two successful years now under its belt, we had a delve around to find out why this course is speaking to many medical students

  • Date: 20 Feb 2017

In 2015, ESMO went directly to fourth and fifth year medical students with a new five-day residential educational programme, held in conjunction with the European School of Oncology (ESO), to encourage their interest in medical oncology. Buoyed up by the enthusiastic response of the class of 2015, last summer’s course saw another cohort of keen students gather in Valencia, Spain, under the expert supervision of co-chairs Andrés Cervantes, Nicholas Pavlidis and Susana Banerjee.

“It is vital that ESMO reaches out to medical students,” says Susana Banerjee, Royal Marsden NHS Trust, London, UK, 2016 Co-Chair, “because attracting the most dedicated and talented doctors to oncology is essential to the delivery of the best care for cancer patients.” She has personal experience of the success of the course. “One of the students from the first course I co-chaired is now being supervised by me on an observership programme and is actively considering a career in oncology.” She is impressed by the high calibre of the participants. “Having co-chaired and lectured on the course for two years I feel confident that in these students we have a new generation of talented and compassionate future oncologists.” 

There’s an incentive to do well on the course. The student with the highest end-of-course exam results receives the Best Student Award, which gives him or her the opportunity to take part in the ESMO Congress (with the aid of a 1000 Euro grant) and to join the Congress Poster Walk for students. Is it worth it? Judge for yourself from the Best Students of the last two years, both of whom describe the course as ‘life-changing’.

Antonio D’Alessio, Naples, Italy, Best Student Award 2016, applied to the course mainly “out of curiosity to experience a way of learning different to the lecturing used at university.” And he wasn’t disappointed. “The course showed me that there's a bright future in oncology, motivated me to do my best and helped me to rediscover the fascination and challenge of this field.” As for a single take-home message, “I'd choose the importance of working in a team; the interaction of the oncologist with other professionals is the key to good treatment.” Antonio is clear about the benefits he got from course. “I'll never stop thanking ESMO and its course because I've come home with a wider understanding of oncology and a stronger will to one day become an oncologist.”

Gianluca Arrichiello, Naples, Italy, Best Student Award 2015, highly recommends the course. “I had the chance to learn from leading oncologists and winning the Best Student Award made me even more determined to do well in this field.” It wasn’t just the course content that was valuable. “I met some incredible people and I made great connections. ESMO helped us to create an Alumni Group to keep in touch with each other and with members of the ESMO Young Oncologists Committee, and the faculty members gave us their email addresses. Hopefully, through ESMO, the course will give me an opportunity to better develop my career right from the start.”

According to Andrés Cervantes, University of Valencia, Spain, 2016 Co-Chair, “The course provides an ideal environment for students to meet like-minded peers from across Europe, to discuss the pros and cons of medical oncology as a career and to form future working relationships. The faculty includes young oncologists, making it easy for the students to relate to them. The benefits of the course cut both ways and I for one am motivated by the energy and enthusiasm of these well-prepared, knowledgeable young people,”  he says. “Given the popularity of the course, with 314 applications from 63 countries for just 59 places in 2016, ESMO intends to extend it in 2017 to enable more students to benefit.”

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