The Indiana Hemophilia & Thrombosis Center in Indianapolis will next month pilot a national education program to address a shortage of doctors specializing in classical hematology. The weeklong Partners Physician Academy will include physicians looking to advance their careers while working at a hemophilia treatment center and foster development of a physician network of mentors.
“We’ve been struggling – both in Indiana and nationally – to find physicians who are interested in focusing in classical hematology,” said Chris Roberson, director of medical programs at the IHTC.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Roberson says the shortage was an issue long before the pandemic.
“We’ve seen over the past 10-plus years a pretty consistent decline in the number of physicians who have been exploring this career path for reasons I think understood by the general population; there’s just more notoriety in the field of oncology, and more physicians have seemed to be kind of migrating in that direction,” said Roberson.
The IHTC says the specialization of hematology includes both classical hematology, which is the treatment of bleeding disorders, and oncology, which focuses on cancer. The center adds doctors who are trained in both are typically more exposed to oncology work during fellowships than patients with rare bleeding disorders.
“So, the Hemophilia Treatment Center Network across the United States, which is comprised of about 150 centers like ours have really been struggling to recruit and retain physicians who want to focus on the disease states that we treat,” said Roberson. “So, we thought [the academy] would a really engaging way to sort of network with these physicians and connect them with more senior mentors in the community.”
The program, which runs Sept. 12-16, will include 15 physicians either in fellowship or early in their career.
Roberson says about 25 faculty members will come to Indianapolis to give a variety of presentations including the infrastructure of the HTC Network, deep dives into some of the specific diseases treated in the field, and advancements in therapies, medications and gene therapy.
“That’ll be the general format…and then because we want to really foster a network and mentorship relationship, in the evenings, we’ll be exploring a variety of entertainment offerings in Indianapolis,” Roberson said.
Roberson says the IHTC expects the program to become an annual event with more participants in the future. He adds the program could also expand to other specific specializations such as gene therapy.