Teaching specialty cancer medicine in rural hospitals: The Cancer Outreach Program as a model

T. J. Smith, C. E. Desch, C. J. Simonson, N. E. Kane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cancer doctors and nurses are clustered in the metropolitan areas of Virginia. However, cancer patients are found throughout the state, and cancer mortality time trends are worse in the rural areas. Efforts to recruit cancer physicians and nurses to rural hospitals have been unsuccessful due to the practice characteristics, educational isolation, and economic disincentives. Our rural cancer education program involves the physicians and nurses currently in practice at two rural hospitals. We provide hands-on training in cancer care, continuing education, and intense week-long educational sessions. We have observed changes in physician and nurse practice styles that benefit the cancer patient including effective pain management, enrollment of patients on clinical trials, increased use of adjuvant therapy, and breast conservation. We are providing state-of-the-art cancer care at the rural hospitals in the Cancer Outreach Program. We have improved the educational opportunities and increased utilization of the resources of the academic career center. We can modify the practice characteristics by providing needed clinical programs and enhancing the rural hospital/academic medical center link. We have shown that rural cancer care can be revenue- neutral or positive, and we are seeking creative solutions to the financial disincentives of rural specialty practice. We can assist the rural hospital in the recruitment of oncology specialty nurses and physicians by providing cancer care services, and the patient caseload is available to teach prospective rural subspecialty practitioners at the rural hospitals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-240
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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