Oncologist Forecast Highlights Need for Team-Based Care

Jacqueline Fellows, March 27, 2014

Advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment and longer-term survival rates point to a growing need for interdisciplinary provider teams to meet the needs of patients as the supply of oncologists is predicted to decline.

We've been hearing dire warnings about physician shortages to come. Now we're starting to see specifics. A report on cancer released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology this month projects a shortage of 1,487 oncologists by 2025.


Richard Schilsky, MD
Chief Medical Officer of ASCO

An aging workforce, longer survivorship of cancer, and an increased need for oncology services will all contribute toward the future gap in supply and increased demand, the report finds. Closing that gap would require a bigger care team that is clinically trained and educated to care for cancer patients, says Richard Schilsky, MD. He is ASCO chief medical officer.

"We think it's important that the oncology care team in the oncologist's office be expanded to include nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, [and] advanced practice providers," says Schilsky. "They can see the uncomplicated patients; the patients who are in for a follow-up visit, leaving more time for the oncologist to deal with the very sick and very complex cases."

Giving NPs, PAs, and APNs a bigger role with patients probably sounds familiar. That's because these roles are also being pointed to as an answer to a projected PCP shortage, though some PCPs are not as open to the idea.

Jacqueline Fellows

Jacqueline Fellows is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.


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