Quality Training Program FAQs

What is the Quality Training Program?

ASCO’s Quality Training Program is a 6-month data-driven course in quality improvement for oncology providers who need to measure performance, investigate quality and safety issues, and implement change. It is the only oncology-focused improvement training, as all faculty, coaches, and participants are providers and quality improvement specialists with oncology experience, making this a unique opportunity for networking and knowledge-sharing.

Experience-based learning: Participants attend the course in multi-disciplinary teams, usually of 3-4 people, and bring a problem they wish to solve in their practice.  Each team is assisted by an experienced improvement coach throughout the project.

Professional Development Opportunity: Participants are encouraged to write articles and present work in poster and plenary sessions. Alumni are invited to coach teams or teach as faculty in subsequent sessions. 

What is the Purpose of the Quality Training Program?

The Quality Training Program seeks to educate oncology providers in designing, implementing, and leading successful quality improvement activities in their practice settings. In addition, ASCO hopes to train oncologists to:

  • Assume quality leadership positions
  • Champion quality initiatives inside and outside their respective practices

What are the Mandatory Requirements for Participation in the Program?

All teams must meet the following criteria for participation:

  • Assemble a core team of 2-4 participants. These teams are led by a physician member of ASCO in good standing (physician member may also be a fellow in training).
  • Core team members must be able to attend the three in-person sessions of the Quality Training Program at ASCO headquarters.
  • Assemble a larger team that will support the quality improvement project at the practice level.
  • Designate a team sponsor (typically a senior institutional leader) to support their work.
  • Identify a quality problem for the improvement project.

Is Participation in the Program Limited to Physicians Only?

A physician member of ASCO in good standing (may also be a fellow in training) leads the core team from each practice. However, the other members of the core team may include staff from any area affected by the quality improvement project and interdisciplinary teams are encouraged. For example, team members may come from clinical, operational, or administrative personnel. 

Can Any Oncology Specialty Practice Apply for Participation in the Program?

ASCO encourages applications from any oncology specialty along with applications from diverse practices and institutional settings (e.g. academic, community, geographic location, practice size).

Will ASCO Consider Applications From Practices Based Outside of the United States?

Yes, ASCO will consider applications from practices based outside of the United States. However, keep in mind that the sponsoring practice/institution or participants (members of the core team) are responsible for covering the program fees. The sponsoring practice/institution or participants are also responsible for covering lodging, travel, and incidental expenses. 

Will ASCO Provide Financial Assistance to Program Participants?

Unfortunately, ASCO is unable to provide financial assistance to program participants. Participants or their practice/institution are responsible for covering the program fees, lodging, travel, and other incidental expenses.

When Does the Quality Training Program Take Place?

Typically two courses are held per year: one from January - June and another from July – December.

Additional coaching and communications will take place virtually via conference calls, webinars, and emails. The virtual coaching calls occur at least once each month during the course.

Are Continuing Education Credits Available for Participating in the Program?

The Quality Training Program is approved for the following credits:

  • CME credit (AMA PRA Category 1 Credits)

  • CNE credit (ANCC – American Nurses Credentialing Center)

What is the Time Commitment?

The Quality Training Program consists of 5 in-person days in three sessions over 6 months.  The first session is two days at the beginning of the course. The second session is two days at the mid-point (3 months). The third and final session is one day at the end of the six months.

Who Should Attend the Quality Training Program Course?

Participants attend the course in multi-disciplinary teams, usually 2-4 people.  Depending on the problem identified in their project, the team could consist of a physician, nurse manager, pharmacist, practice administrator, data analyst or quality specialist.   Each team should have an ASCO member as a participant or project sponsor. The project sponsor does not usually attend the course, but supports the team by removing obstacles and providing needed resources. 

How to select a project:

Selection of an improvement project for the Quality Training Program should consider these three levels of projects:

  1. Small, discrete tasks that need to be completed fall into the category of ‘just-do-it’ and may not be a good improvement project.  Most people will perform a job well if they know how to perform the function, understand they are accountable, and there are consequences of not completing the task.  
  2. Large, complex projects such as IT implementations and practice transformation are likely to require extensive planning and resources and will take longer than 6 months to complete, so these are not good choices for the Quality Training Program.
  3. Problems in practice where the cause is not known might be a good potential project for the Quality Training Program. Here are some examples:
    • 30-day readmissions are 30% and comparable benchmarks are 20%
    • 40.4% of patients with solid tumors admitted to the ICU died with advanced stage disease.
    •  Patients admitted for scheduled chemotherapy average 7 hours between arriving on the inpatient unit and starting chemotherapy.

Each of these projects requires an analysis of causes, collection of data, and a multidisciplinary team to improve the process.  These requirements are the fundamentals of the Quality Training Program.

What is an Appropriate Scope for a Quality Training Program Project?

Not too large: Often a project team starts with a goal to improve a process for the entire practice and later reduces the scope to that only a specific disease type or some subset of the full patient population.  Starting small enables a project team to test and refine an idea before rolling it out to the entire practice.  Later, the intervention can spread to the rest of the practice.

Not to small: Do not set the scope to a narrow population with a project to reduce or eliminate rare events.  For example, if the scope of the intervention is limited to solid-tumor lung cancer patients for the project of reducing patients who die in the ICU, possibly not enough patients would be seen in a week or a month to fully assess the results of the intervention. 

Just right: The Quality Training Program improvement phase is typically 10-14 weeks (between Session 2 and Session 3).  Within that time, teams should plan and execute at least one, and possibly two or three tests of change, and each test of change should evaluate at least 20 patients.  A test of change will take 2-4 weeks, so scope should be broad enough to have about 20 patients during that period.  

The Improvement Coach assigned to the project team can help determine the appropriate project scope.