Dr. Grover concurred but commended IOM’s effort to bring together different professions within the cancer care umbrella with a unified purpose of determining what cancer patients need. He suggested that all these factions voicing a unified message will impress policy makers more than fractious efforts. Dr. Shulman added, “We’re only going to make progress if we band together with physicians, nurses, social workers, physician assistants, and all the other groups. If we’re all squabbling and have different ideas about how to divide up the pie and who’s in charge and who gets reimbursed for what, then we’ll be nibbling at change and won’t foster the bold changes that are needed.” Dr. Bednash agreed and urged physicians to join with nurses in lobbying for more support for the clinical training of nurses and their reimbursement in a collaborative care setting. She also suggested that the numerous consumer advocacy groups for various types of cancers join this unified effort to address oncology workforce issues. Ms. Smith added that the cancer survivor community should be tapped to advocate for oncology health care needs.
Mr. Salsberg suggested learning from what was done to promote efforts to address the shortage of primary care providers. Studies documenting the shortages of primary care providers led to public media campaigns and lobbying efforts in Congress, he noted. “There were a number of alliances and principle statements coming out that increased awareness on the part of the public about the shortages of primary care physicians,” he said. He also noted the speed and creativity of the government efforts that are under way to address the current economic crisis. “It does seem that this country seems to respond more quickly to crisis so maybe we need a public relations effort to really help our leaders understand that this is a crisis that needs urgent attention,” he said.