ASCO Education Scholars Program strengthens expertise, leadership skills of UF Health Cancer Center faculty educators 

By Reagan Malenius

Educating oncologists is at the forefront of the UF Health Cancer Center’s mission, representing a key strategy to reduce the burden of cancer. For practicing oncologists, gaining expertise in learning science and education design is key to ensure they have the skills to teach others, including fellow oncologists, trainees and patients. 

Julia Close, M.D., serves as a coach for the ASCO Education Scholars Program.

To meet this need, as well as cultivate education leaders, members of the UF Health Cancer Canter have participated in a prestigious national education program run by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the world’s leading professional organization for physicians and oncology professionals caring for people with cancer. 

The Education Scholars Programs (ESP) is a competitive yearlong professional development program for oncology medical educators. Participants learn to design innovative educational curricula across the oncology spectrum, run effective training programs, facilitate trainee and faculty career development programs, and empower patients and families through education. 

“Teaching does not just start and end with medical students, residents and fellows; rather, we have a duty to educate those who are practicing because oncology changes so quickly,” said Julia Close, M.D., a professor in the division of hematology and oncology in the UF College of Medicine who is now serving as a coach for the program. 

Close, who serves as senior associate dean of graduate medical education in the UF College of Medicine, was selected from a large, competitive pool of national applications to participate in the inaugural cohort of the program in 2018. Since then, other UF Health Cancer Center members have participated, including Martina Murphy, M.D., an associate professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology who directs the UF hematology and oncology fellowship program. 

The UF Health Cancer Center team at the ASCO 2023 Annual Meeting from left: Alison Ivey, R.N., M.S., M.B.A., O.C.N., CCRP; Thomas George, M.D., FACP; Brian Ramnaraign, M.D.; Merry Jennifer Markham, M.D., FACP, FASCO; Martina Murphy, M.D.; and Julia Close, M.D.

Close has dedicated herself to helping the next generation of trainees and has been instrumental in implementing changes to enhance the support system for residents and fellows at UF, ensuring their well-being remains strong through the rigors of training. Similarly, her role in the ESP allows her to use her skills to give back. 

“Serving as a coach allows me to use my medical background to provide richer oncology-based information for those in the program who come from a primarily education background, share the professional and educational skills I have acquired throughout my career, and provide support for those seeking a career pathway in this field.” 

Julia Close, M.D.

Learn more about the program and apply.

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