Integrative Medicine: Integrative Oncology Physician Training

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Integrative Oncology Physician Training Program is designed to train physicians in integrative oncology practices and research, to prepare trainees for successful academic careers in integrative oncology, and to develop future leaders in this emerging field.

Summary

  • Goal: To train physicians for an academic career in integrative oncology
  • Trainees: Board-certified internists are preferred, but other physicians who have completed at least one year of postgraduate medical training in an accredited residency program will be considered
  • Length of visit: Six to 12 months
  • Mentors: Faculty members of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Integrative Medicine Service
  • Curriculum: Didactic sessions, core reading list, critical review and presentation of literature, participation in clinical research, clinical service under supervision, Grand Rounds attendance, and meetings and other activities in the Service and in other relevant services throughout the institution
  • Evaluation: Progress report and discussion with mentors every two months; final evaluation at the end of the six- or 12-month training period
  • Certification: Trainee will receive a certificate attesting to his or her satisfactory completion of the training program

Curriculum

The curriculum consists of the basic components outlined above.

A core reading list is prepared to provide the trainee with fundamental knowledge of the following subjects:

  • Overview of current cancer treatments, their benefits and limitations
  • Concept of integrative medicine and integrative oncology
  • Use of complementary therapies by cancer patients, including their reasoning and expectations
  • Theories and practice of common complementary therapies
  • Botanical agents, and preclinical and clinical studies of their applications in cancer care
  • Clinical approach to patients seeking integrative oncology services
  • Symptoms that may be successfully managed with complementary therapies
  • Clinical research methodology
  • Review of the current state of science and evidence-based practice guidelines
  • Ethics and legal issues associated with integrative oncology

The didactic courses lay the foundation of trainees' knowledge base in integrative oncology. Mentors will guide the didactic component of the program on the subjects listed above. Trainees are expected to demonstrate thorough understanding of all subject matter and to engage in in-depth discussion with the mentors. Trainees will meet with practitioners/therapists in the Integrative Medicine Service to learn the basic principles and practices of acupuncture, mind-body techniques, massage therapies, and other interventions.

Trainees will participate in a selected institutional seminar series. Although many seminars are open to trainees, the Integrative Medicine Research Meeting (biweekly) and the Department of Medicine Grand Rounds (weekly) are required. Trainees will also attend the Palliative Medicine clinical conferences and rounds, the President's Research Seminar Series, and activities of other relevant services. Participation in such seminars will broaden trainees' knowledge of cancer care and research. The seminars will also present cutting-edge science conducted by experts in the field.

Once a month, trainees will select a recent research paper reporting a significant advancement in integrative medicine and present it at the Integrative Medicine Research Meeting in journal club fashion. Trainees are expected to critically evaluate the objectives, design, findings, and significance during the presentation, and to stimulate thought-provoking discussions. This practice will prepare trainees for future critical review of manuscripts, proposals, research protocols, and grant applications.

Trainees will spend two days a week shadowing and assisting attending physicians as they work with integrative medicine patients in the outpatient clinic located on East 53rd Street, in Manhattan. Trainees will observe and learn to identify patients' needs and put those needs in the proper psychosocial context of the particular patient, gain patients' trust and respect quickly, carry out an open and evidence-based communication, discuss patients' specific questions, formulate a treatment plan that addresses patients' specific and global medical problems, inspire and motivate patients to carry out the plan, and partner with patients to bring about lasting change. Toward the end of the training period, trainees should have developed the ability to provide independent clinical service and achieve the best possible clinical outcome and patient satisfaction.

Research training will be provided on a daily basis, including participation in Integrative Medicine Service research projects that are under way or in development. Attending all Integrative Medicine Service research meetings provides exposure to the full research spectrum, including the generation of ideas and the development, protocols, and problem solving essential to the research environment. Trainees are expected to demonstrate the ability to identify meaningful research questions, generate innovative ideas, formulate a sound research plan, defend it against criticism, and troubleshoot any existing or potential problems that arise.

Timeline

Trainees will spend the first two weeks of the program getting oriented to the Service and the Institution. Work on the core reading list and the didactic sessions will start no later than the third week. After two months, trainees are expected to be fully integrated into and capable of contributing to the daily operation of the Service’s clinical and research activities. A midterm evaluation will occur after three months for six-month trainees and after six months for one-year trainees. Trainees will be given increasing responsibility for research activities, including project development and the initiation of clinical trials. A final evaluation will include review and discussion of trainees' achievements and future career directions.

Eligibility

Candidates applying for the Integrative Oncology Training Program must hold an MD, MD/PhD, DO, or other medical degree that permits them to practice medicine within their jurisdiction. In addition, candidates must have completed at least one year of residency training in an ACGME-approved residency program that will lead to board certification or board eligibility in a specialty. Applicants may come from one of the following three groups of physicians:

  1. Resident physicians currently in a postgraduate program, e.g., a transitional or family practice intern wishing to receive training in integrative medicine in between PGY1 and PGY2
  2. Physicians who are completing a postgraduate program but wish to continue postgraduate training, e.g., a graduating internal medicine resident who has decided to develop an academic career in integrative medicine
  3. Attending physicians who have been in practice for a number of years and who wish to receive formal training in integrative medicine

Applicants are not required to have received subspecialty training in oncology, although such candidates are preferred. Candidates who have completed training in a general specialty, such as internal medicine, general surgery, pain and palliative care, physical medicine and rehabilitation, or family practice are eligible if caring for cancer patients or cancer survivors is their main clinical focus. They also must express a strong commitment to pursuing an academic career.

Applicants are required to provide:

  • A cover letter/career statement
  • CV
  • Letters of reference from individuals in supervisory capacity
  • Medical school credentials
  • If in training, letter verifying the status of the training
  • If training is complete, certificate verifying completion
  • Board certificate, if applicable
  • License, if applicable
  • Health clearance
  • Malpractice insurance policy documents

Fees

The fee for the six-month program is $3,000, and the fee for the 12-month program is $5,000, payable to the Integrative Medicine Service.

How to Apply

To apply, please contact Irina Vinokur, Education Programs Coordinator at IntegMedTraining@mskcc.org.