Oncofertility is an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of oncology and reproductive science. While those two fields make up the breadth of this discipline, it only touches the surface of what future clinicians need in their academic repertoire to successfully navigate this field. In “Preparing an Interdisciplinary Workforce in Oncofertility: A Suggested Educational and Research Training Program,” in Oncofertility Medical Practice: Clinical Issues and Implementation, author Christos Coutifaris, MD, PhD, argues that the education and training of oncofertility professionals should involve, “oncology, pediatrics, reproductive science and medicine, biomechanics, material science, mathematics, social science, bioethics, religion, policy research, reproductive health law, and cognitive and learning science.”
Going forward, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has an ambitious agenda requiring multifaceted scientists and clinicians properly trained in both research and medicine. Ideally, physicians would be trained not only clinically, but they would also be prepared for investigative careers. According to Dr. Coutifaris, “the ultimate goal is to prepare reproductive endocrinologists, pediatric and adult oncologists, and surgeons, for investigative careers that focus on the reproductive, endocrine, and fertility needs of cancer patients and survivors.” By doing so, oncofertility specialists would be at the forefront of translational medicine, further benefiting the reproductive outcomes of cancer patients.
Dr. Coutifaris presents a well-laid training program for future oncofertility specialists. This includes establishing an executive steering committee responsible for the overall direction of the program, an advisory board to aid and shape the content of the program, an expert and diverse group of faculty members to mentor trainees, and research training, specifically focusing on the human oocyte. There should also be a comprehensive program evaluation in place to monitor the success of the program.
Having a dedicated oncofertility program in place to ensure that fertility options for young cancer patients is factored into their cancer care, is imperative. Training and educating the next generation of oncofertility specialists will lay the foundation for improved cancer care and reproductive outcomes. Read, “Preparing an Interdisciplinary Workforce in Oncofertility: A Suggested Educational and Research Training Program,” to learn more about educating the next generation of oncofertility specialists. Participate in our new series of CME-accredited Virtual Grand Rounds to increase communication and education among healthcare providers.